We’ve seen it all before, a potential client coming to us for help having been burnt by their last agency so badly, they’re still smoking.
Like most industries, you’ll always find bad apples, but unfortunately in this industry, there’s lots of them.
So, whether you’re looking for a social agency to do some work for you for the first time, or you are indeed currently suffering from some recent ‘charring’, how do you qualify a social media agency when you don’t know much about social in the first place?
Well, we’ve put together a quick and easy checklist for you. This is by no means a complete list, but will arm you with what you need to make an informed decision:
1. Check their Facebook Pixel!
Anyone who has anything to do with Facebook marketing in the slightest, should know what a Facebook Pixel is. Better yet, if they’re claiming to be any good at Facebook marketing, they should have one installed and working correctly on their website.
How do you check this? If you’re a Google Chrome user, you can simply install a little tool called Pixel Helper. Once installed, when you visit the potential agency’s website, you need to look out for this symbol in the top right hand corner of your browser:
This means there isn’t a pixel installed so run away! There is a possibility they have it installed on their Google Tag Manager, but in any case it’s not best practice, so not a good sign all the same. Some of the self-entitled ‘best agencies in…blah blah blah’ are kindly demonstrating this for you.
If there is a Pixel, it will look like this:
That’s great, but then click on it to see something like this:
If so, consider this good news! However, if you see any yellow warning symbols, it means it’s broken, again not a good sign!
2. How big are they? Does size matter?
Sometimes, depending how you look at it. If the agency is quite substantial with multiple services across multiple offices and sporting pictures of loads of staff, it’s normally an indicator that social is an add on not a speciality and they will probably be expensive with so many mouths to feed. Is size a sign of success? Absolutely not! Oddly enough, most of the time it’s quite the opposite. Most of the best agencies out there are small teams of 8 or less.
3. Do they have lots of awards but little to no customer testimonials?
This one always makes me smile. You’ll find plenty of agencies or self-proclaimed guru’s that sport lots of random awards or being a ‘finalist’ (meaning they didn’t win). Unfortunately, there’s plenty of awards to win and showcase but there’s very little that actually mean anything. The same goes with social media ‘qualifications’. Speaking as an agency owner and employer, if you really want to know if they’re qualified, find out what results they’ve driven for their clients. That brings me on to;
4. Are they blinding you with meaningless results?
Unfortunately, this is a big one to watch out for. Looking at their websites you’ll probably see such results as “Facebook page views up 278% in the first month” and “Facebook page Likes up 184% in the first month”. Sounds great but that’s meaningless without more information. For example, page views are great but how much budget was spent to achieve that and with what ratio in mind? Did the client start with 200 page views per month and saw an increase to 368? Or 15,000 and saw it increase to 28,350? Did they spend $500 or $5,000? The same goes for the page Likes scenario, but you have to ask why on earth are you targeting a Like increase anyway? A Like increase is a byproduct of enagaging your target audience correctly, it shouldn’t be a key metric of a campaign.
5. Do they promise a certain amount of posts per week/month?
Quite simply, if they do run away! If you’re asking why, the answer is far too long to explain here but in a nutshell, it’s an outdated, prehistoric strategy not relevant today and simply highlights everything they don’t know – which is a lot! Oh, and you’ll achieve next to nothing.
6. Do they promise to boost posts?
We have a saying in our training course that is becoming a bit of a catchphrase “Never boost a post again”. If they’re boosting posts, it again highlights what they don’t know and what little you’ll achieve.
7. Are you contracted in?
Ask yourself, why do you need to be locked in? Any agency confident of their abilities should be month to month with no lock-ins. But, I would expect a 30 days minimum notice period to quit as the nature of the beast demands that they must work ahead of time and of course should be compensated as such.
8. Do they bill you for your Facebook Ad spend?
If so, run away! It means they either don’t know what they’re doing or they are intentionally looking to take a commission from your Ad spend or own the data you generate – or both. Whichever way you look at this – you lose!
9. Have they asked what you want to achieve – are they listening to you or are you listening to them?
So many people get blinded by the pitch the agency gives them in an effort to win the business. Instead, most of the talking should be coming from you, not them. Are they listening to your needs/requirements? Any agency worth their salt should be qualifying you as much as you are them to ascertain if they can truly help or not.
10. How quick is their communication?
When you first enquire, how long does it take for them to reply to a message, email, or phone call? Need we say more!
11. Do they have a dedicated social media manager or a team managing your campaign and are they based in Australia?
Simply put, how can anyone successfully market you or your business, if they don’t know you or it? Also, you should be able to get in contact with the person responsible for your campaign easily. If that means contacting a team, it’s pretty much like contacting Telstra’s customer service. No one person knows everything about your campaign and will spend most of your time catching up with the details than being able to help.
12. Finally, do you really need to outsource in the first place or should you learn it yourself and keep it in house?
Have you considered the prospect of learning what you need and managing your own campaigns? After all, knowledge is power! If you have the time and/or staff available, there are a number of advantages to be had by training yourself or your staff. One big reason is yes you save money and should you get to a point in the future where you have to outsource, you’ll know what to look for in an agency, thus making a blog like this one totally irrelevant because you know it all anyway. When looking for a training company, it’s the same as how you would qualify a social media agency, don’t get caught up in awards, badges or specialist training companies. Instead, if you’re looking for real world experience, choose a company that’s not only teaching it, but indeed doing it every day. That’s imperative.