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Hiring an Agency to Help with Social Media? Here’s Where to Start.

By Jesse Baines. Business Tips Content Strategy and Marketing
Image Credit: Death to Stock

Social media is a crucial part of a successful marketing strategy, but it’s important to focus on building a strategy before getting started. When collaborating with an agency, here are some of the issues that need to be addressed when you begin.

“Can you do our social media?”

Well, yeah. Totally. But, as I’ve said before, social media is by no means a standalone project. It exists as an arm/leg/torso/whatever of your overall marketing strategy. So, truth be told, I get a little nervous when someone asks me if we can “do” their social media.

Generally, this question comes up because the client has yet to invest substantial time or thought in social media as a critical lead generation tool. B2B organizations in particular are missing the opportunity to have a conversation with a swarm of potential clients. Social media becomes an afterthought that generates a couple of relevant posts per day by someone on staff who doesn’t have enough time to invest in social media on top of her other responsibilities. And (surprise!) the social media presence sucks.

Don’t worry, no one is offended. These clients know their social media sucks. Which brings me back to the question–– “Can you do our social media?”

How to stop sucking at social.

Most often, community managers are told that a campaign is what they need to launch brands out of the suckdom. And yes, a strong, controlled, goal-oriented and data-driven social media campaign can rock socks and bring your numbers out of the doldrums. Check out Salesforce’s list of greatest hits for some inspiration on brands doing it right.

Campaigns are important––and don’t worry, we’ll get there––but let’s take a step back and define your brand’s voice and overall social media strategy first. It’s important to give all of these awesome upcoming campaigns a stage to stand on. Here’s what you need to consider before diving in.

What’s your brand all about?

Most businesses have a surprisingly rich history, even if it’s a short one. Whether you are GE or a sharp new Industrial IoT firm, there is a story of innovation and (re)invention there that will help potential clients and customers relate to your brand. It’s also SUPER important for anyone managing your social media to know about any past PR mishaps. Air that dirty laundry before it gets aired on Twitter.

Most businesses have a surprisingly rich history, even if it’s a short one. Whether you are GE or a sharp new Industrial IoT firm, there is a story of innovation and (re)invention there that will help potential clients and customers relate to your brand

Along with this, you’ll need to define what your brand stands for: If you’re a SaaS platform for invoicing, do you want your social media to focus on value for money (positioning yourself as the cheapest platform around), or would you rather spotlight the fact that you take a more personalized approach than your competitors? These messaging criteria are important to get down on paper before you start Tweeting, so make sure you take the time to hone in on your brand guidelines for social before you get started, especially if you plan to bring on an agency for help with day-to-day social media management.

What are your competitors up to?

Social media marketing isn’t exactly new, and chances are there is a competitor out there doing it really well. When you get started working with a partner, come armed with a list of competitors in your space, or even unrelated companies whose strategies you admire. Analytics tools such as Fanpage Karma and LikeAlyzer can help us drill down on your competitors’ social metrics and get a granular view of their strategy and who their audience is, so we can offer informed recommendations on how to amplify your own brand based on industry best practices. Be your own brand and develop your own voice, but don’t feel like you have to reinvent the wheel.

Discover primary rationale.

What are your overall goals and how can social media best support those goals? Perhaps you would like to increase top-of-funnel lead health, or promote content that engages thought leaders around your brand. Of course, we want it all, all at once. But, much as in general marketing or sales plans, social media success requires focus and targets and priority tiers. Your agency can help you determine what you’re really looking to gain from social media, which will inform the plan for achieving those goals.

Develop success metrics.

Once priorities have been set, your agency can help you ID the right success metrics to hone in on. Most often, brands and businesses have a difficult time understanding the value of social media, but with specific success metrics in place, measurables such as lead volume, Klout score, employee engagement, client engagement, and other desirable outcomes can be clearly stated. Don’t dwell on specific numbers, but look for upward trends in each of your chosen KPIs, and regroup with your agency team on a regular basis to analyze reports and optimize what’s not working as well as you’d hoped.

Analyze your current audience.

Even the most minute social media audience can provide insight into what is working and what’s not. Chances are, your current crew of followers are already clients or customers. Tools like Facebook Page Insights can help ID some of their commonalities, such as age, sex, location, and other interests—all good intel to help your agency build buyer personas, which can be used to determine what type of content to promote. Let’s find out what resonates with them and build.

Create a channel plan.

Everyone is on Facebook and Twitter, we know. But don’t be a lemming: Look at where your audience (or the audience you’d like to have) is hanging out. If you’re in B2B tech, do your prospects tend to talk shop on semiconductors over Facebook in between Liking family photos, or would a more professional-focused outlet like LinkedIn be a smarter place to greet them? Take a good look at who your audience is, and your social media team will help you define a channel plan that helps you tap into their natural social networks, and build a distinct messaging strategy for each social platform.

Determine your investment to build reach.

It’s a misconception that social media is free. It takes time (or money) to curate compelling content that meets your brand’s messaging requirements, and to build a community around your brand. On top of that, organic reach is flatlining: On Facebook, average reach recently measured at a measly 2.6% of Page followers (ouch!). In order to generate an audience for all that great social content you’re creating, invest in boosting your content through targeted social ads. The right agency can provide a highly targeted plan for social media advertising to maximize ROI, and focus on strategies for optimizing each ad campaign, providing you with benchmarks to track how well your ads are performing.

Let’s make your brand not-boring.

Not all of us get to be Red Bull, but that doesn't mean taking yourself too terribly seriously all of the time is a great approach either. A brand on social media can (and should) demonstrate high-level mastery and authority with regard to the industry, vertical, or product at hand. Work with your agency to ensure that they are well equipped with the necessary resources to represent your brand well––but don’t be afraid of a little humanity. Pics from the office, staff photos, live-tweeting, events, and even production shots are really interesting to your followers. Most importantly, let them know that there are people behind your product.

Oh-man-you-guys, there is still SO much more to talk about. But for now, if your company is considering partnering with an agency on social media, I do have one more suggestion to realize a solid ROI on your investment. Have one person in house who is responsible for the success of your social media, acting as point-person for the agency. Perhaps this glorious human is your head of marketing or a junior staffer. No matter his or her rank, if you expect an agency to do great by you, give that agency an enabler on the inside––someone providing the information and resources necessary to be successful and share in that success. This is step #1.

Learn more about building and implementing a content marketing plan in our free 19-page guide, or contact us for a free consultation.

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Jesse Baines

Jesse is an experienced writer and social media strategist who loves finding the good in the world. She serves as a client account manager here at Eucalypt Media. A lifelong Mainer, Jesse is an avid cook, outdoor adventurer, and lover of a good beer and a great story.

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