Nearly a third of the world uses social media regularly, and 92 percent of marketers claim it’s important to their business.
However, many organizations are too busy to focus on bringing social media marketing into the fold; instead they outsource their social media management to outside firms.
It’s important to make an informed decision before hiring a social media agency or consultant.
These questions will give you a strong understanding of exactly what they’ll provide, what your involvement would be and how the two of you would work together.
1. Who will be managing my social media account(s)?
When you talk to an agency or firm about managing your business’ social media marketing, make sure you ask who will manage your account(s). Will they have a dedicated team member focused on your company or will they have a few people working on it? Who do you contact if you have questions or new information about your business?
2. Do you develop a social media strategy? How do you do this?
It’s really important to have a social media strategy in place before you begin your campaign. This provides a roadmap for which platforms you’ll focus on, how often you’ll update those pages, when updates will go live and what type of content you’ll be sharing.
If you’re talking to a social media expert that doesn’t create a strategy or can’t provide a brief overview of how they create one, move onto another potential partner.
3. Do I need to provide the content?
You must establish what exactly you’re responsible for providing during your social media campaign. Will the firm or agency provide images or video for your Instagram or Facebook account? Do you need to send relevant industry news or will they find it for you?
Their answers will give you insight into what the demands on your time will be as you begin working together.
4. Is the content you create shared or used with other businesses, or is it unique and exclusive to my company?
So many social media agencies out there use the exact same content for all of their clients—or even themselves! In fact, many subscribe to third-party vendors that create content for them, as well as other firms.
If you want your business to stand out in the sea of social media content, it’s important your pages share unique content that is completely customized to your brand
5. How do you develop social media updates, images and other content for my brand?
This question will provide you with some insight into the agency’s process. Do they have a team of graphic designers creating content for all their clients, or will you have a dedicated team member crafting images and updates based on their first-hand knowledge of your company?
6. What types of content will you be posting? Will all the updates be about my business?
Although you’re using social media to promote your brand, it’s important every update isn’t about your business. Remember, the key to social media is being social. Would you be interested in following a page that only talks about itself all the time?
Instead, it’s better to strike a balance between updates that provide something of value specifically for your followers (such as an interesting article, inspiring quote or funny meme) and updates that are directly promotional.
7. Will the content have my brand’s voice/personality?
This goes back to ensuring your social media content is carefully crafted to reflect your business—and only your business. Any social media expert you hire should have the abilities to learn your brand’s voice (or personality) and craft each and every piece of content to fit within that voice.
8. How will I know what you are posting on my social media channels? Will I see updates before they go live?
Before you hire a social media partner, it’s important you establish clear expectations. While some businesses may prefer not to spend the time reviewing updates before they go live, it’s an important step in quality control. By spending a few minutes looking over the content before it goes live on your page, you can make sure it’s a message you want to share.
9. Will you be posting different content on each of my social networks? How do you tailor updates for each platform?
Each social media platform has its own culture; it’s important your updates are crafted to make the most of the network’s capabilities, as well as the “language” of the channel. Any social media expert that tells you to just post the same update on all your platforms isn’t worth your time.
10. How will you set my brand apart from my competitors? Do you look at what they are posting, too?
This is a fantastic question to ask to find out how much research your possible social media partner will put into your account. Will they take the time to see what your competition is doing well, or what they’re not doing well? Will they use what they see to inspire creativity on behalf of your brand?
11. Will my social media followers see that it’s not me posting the content?
On some platforms (such as Twitter and Instagram), you’d share the login information with your social media manager so they can post on your behalf; on others (such as Facebook and LinkedIn), you’d give them access to your brand’s page so they can post updates as the brand. On these channels, you might see who exactly shared the update based on the admin data, but you can rest assured your followers just see the update is from your company.
12. Who responds to my followers’ questions, comments and messages?
This is another important expectation to establish. Will the social media agency you hire monitor your account for interaction? What do they do if you receive a question, comment or message? Will they expect you to respond, or will they take care of it for you?
13. How much will my fan base grow, and how quickly?
Before your campaign begins, it’s important to establish clear expectations and measurable goals. A lot of your social media growth will depend on a variety of factors, such as how often you’re updating the page, if you’re running an ad campaign at the same time, etc.
Take the time to ask this question so you can establish reasonable expectations with your social media partner.
14. How often do you review my analytics? Which analytics will you be looking at? What does success look like?
It’s really important your social media manager takes the time to review your analytics regularly – at least every 4-6 weeks; this provides them helpful data to tweak the strategy to make it stronger as you go. Before you begin your campaign, be clear about how often they’ll review analytics, which data they’ll focus on and how they’ll use that to revise the strategy. Make sure they know if you want to be involved in this process, too.
15. What other digital tactics would complement my company’s social media? Do you offer those services as well? How customized are they to my brand?
Social media is simply one facet of content marketing, which is a powerful way to raise your company’s online visibility. In addition to investing in social media, you may want to consider blogging, email marketing and social media advertising. Ask your potential social media partner if these are services they provide as well, and if they can cross-promote your content across these channels to make the most of your investment.
Emily Sidley is the senior director of publicity for Three Girls Media, a PR firm based in Yelm, Washington. A version of this article originally appeared on the Three Girls Media blog.