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  • Writer's pictureSeth Flora

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Social Media Agency

Once you know that you need the assistance of a social media agency, it can be hard to determine which one will be the best fit for your business. There are so many agencies out there that it can feel like comparing apples to oranges, and you’ll want to be sure you choose the one that matches your budget and needs most effectively. Luckily, with this ultimate guide, we’ve boiled down the most important factors to consider when choosing a social media agency, so all you have to do is fill in the blanks! Let’s get started!

Realize There’s No Magic Bullet

At some point, it’s possible that you may have considered using a social media agency as an instant fix for your social woes. After all, who wouldn’t want a Social Media Fixer Upper, right? Unfortunately, that kind of thinking can lead to misunderstandings and trouble. For example, if you think a ready-made solution will solve your issues without any work from you or your company (or if they claim they can do so), run away! There is no such thing as a magic bullet and there are no silver bullets. (No matter what anyone tells you.) Agencies can help make social media management more efficient—but it doesn’t make it easy!

Assess What You Need From An Agency

For starters, you need to know exactly what it is you want. What sort of audience do you want to reach? Do you want your brand or product featured in press outlets? If so, are there any specific publications that would be good for exposure? How many posts a day would you like an agency to create on your behalf? Are there certain kinds of posts (e.g., long-form, link roundups) that would be better suited for your business than others (e.g., contests and images)? Do you want any SEO or analytical work done as part of your service agreement with an agency?

Vet Out Good Agencies By Looking At Their Work

Finding a good social media agency is hard. There are no credentials for social media experts, there’s no social media degree, and there’s a lot of bad advice floating around out there. To help you separate social media gold from dirt, check out an agency's work before handing over your cash. Google brand name + [insert company name] + Pinterest or something similar to see what kind of content they've been making for other companies—this will give you a good idea of what they're capable of producing.

Research Current Clients

Before hiring a new social media agency, do your research and learn about their clients and past work. While agency staff members can provide you with information about their capabilities, their statements are not always 100% truthful because they want to win your business. When you see examples of previous clients' campaigns it allows you to get a better idea of what types of results they have previously produced for others in similar industries as yours. Before hiring a new social media agency ask them if they can provide two or three examples of recent campaigns they have worked on that are similar in size, goals and industry to your own business (if applicable). If an agency is confident enough in their work that they're willing to let you speak with recent customers then that's probably an indication that they do great work.

Meet With Potential Agencies

The first step in finding an agency that's a good fit is meeting with them. Use these meetings as a way to get an idea of how long they've been in business, what clients they've worked with, how many people are on their team and how you'll be able to reach them in case you have questions or concerns along the way. This way, you're not just hiring based on one conversation—you're also considering things like experience and reputation. Before your meeting(s), make sure you have answers prepared for common questions like: What is your budget? What is your timeline? And why are you looking for an agency?

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Negotiate Payment Terms

Once you have a good idea of what type of agency you need, it’s time to get down to brass tacks. Of course, there are plenty of things that matter more than money (think about how much time and energy you want your social media team devoting to your account), but never discount cost completely. You want value, not a bottomless bank account (which is pretty much impossible anyway). Here are three questions you should ask: How much experience do they have? Which clients do they typically work with? What kind of results can they offer? And for each: How does their service compare with other firms in terms of price? Does it meet my budget requirements?

Understand Contract Requirements

Agencies have very different structures. Understanding what you're getting into is critical to finding a good match. Some agencies are generalists, offering services beyond social media such as email marketing and web design. Others focus exclusively on social media strategy and execution. Knowing which services you need can help narrow down your search for an agency that's right for you. If you already know what you need, look for an agency that offers those services specifically (for example, if you want a Twitter campaign but don't need new website content, look for a company with experience in both). If no one meets your requirements exactly, it's OK; there are still many good options available to handle a variety of needs. Check out 10 Tips on How to Hire a Web/Social Media Marketing Company .

Ask About Support (Turnover, Training, etc.)

If you can, find out how long your potential agency's key staff members have been with that company. While that doesn't necessarily guarantee success, turnover among agencies is fairly high. You don't want to pick an agency just for it to go through a major overhaul in a year or two and leave you stuck with someone new (and potentially unprepared) heading up your account. If you can, also ask about an agency's turnover rates among their support staff. Often times, companies offer extremely low rates because they keep costs down by outsourcing basic tasks like content creation and other behind-the-scenes work.

Have an Exit Strategy in Place

It is important that you have a plan in place should your relationship with your social media agency not go as planned. Having an exit strategy should ensure that you are always thinking about what’s next, and it can help make sure that you keep yourself from getting into a bad situation where you have little control over your reputation online. What is an exit strategy? An exit strategy can come in many forms depending on who, or what company, initiated it—but essentially it’s any sort of pre-planned action that happens when things between two parties don’t work out. No business partnership will last forever (not even marriage) so understanding how each party will move forward if they do eventually decide to part ways is key. You never want to be caught without answers!

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