Most companies believe they can create and manage social media internally. And they can. In fact, I believe it is best handled internally: staff is closer to the day-to-day action, lives and breathes the brand and can respond immediately. Working for an agency, it is almost blasphemous for me to recommend that.
Reality eventually sets in and these companies that had good intentions of managing the social media themselves find that they are stretched for time, for ideas and finding repeat successes. It happens. When it happens, it is time to shop for a partner who can create and manage social media in such a way that they seem part of the internal brand staff.
Here are some things to look for and think about when it comes time to find a social media agency:
- Process. First, do they have one? If not, walk away. If so, what is it? You will want to understand how they are going to learn about your brand, how they will come up with the messaging, when will you see and approve it, when fans/followers are responding to and how, etc. Be sure you are fully comfortable with the process before signing on.
- Staff. First, do they have someone dedicated to managing social media and nothing else? If not, walk away. Managing social is a specialty and a full-time job. If you are paying a company to manage your social media then you want them only managing social media. If they do, how many people and how many accounts are they managing? This is a fair question, though whether you are comfortable with the answer is up to you. For example, if one person has over 10 brands to manage, you may want to look at the social media accounts of those brands to make sure you are comfortable with how they are being managed.
- Solution Options. Are there set packages that you have to choose from? Or can you mix and match based on your specific needs? For example, maybe you want the agency to write the content, but you are planning to post, monitor and respond. Will they do that? Or maybe you want them to write and post, but you monitor and respond. Make sure you choose someone that is willing to be flexible to your specific needs (and budget).
- Other Agency Services. If you have an agency that does your advertising, public relations, website, etc., I strongly suggest you consider that agency first for your social media management if they offer that service. Having a team that is working together for the entire customer-focused brand is important for consistency and communication clarity. But most of all, it makes it easier for you to manage one agency rather than multiple!
It is okay to hire out your social media management! Just do the research to make sure you find the right partner; social media is how many of your customers will find you first and expect to engage with your brand.