Rough Guide to: Selecting a Social Media Agency
With belts tightened, and so many self-styled social media consultancies out there, how can marketers know who to trust? New Media Knowledge looked at the important things to consider when looking for a social media consultancy.
As companies get increasingly web-savvy, a new breed of consultant has developed: the social media consultant. While many of these consultants in this new industry may deliver excellent value and results, some have wrought the ire of bloggers as expensive and ineffective.
So, for firms looking closely at social media as a way to expand their online presence and reach a wider audience as part of their marketing programmes, what should they look for in a social media agency and what questions should they ask of potential suppliers? NMK asked three leading practitioners for their verdicts.
Roger Warner, Managing Director, Content & Motion
What makes a ‘good’ social media consultancy?
Choosing a good consultant is all about how well they can ‘tool’ you up for things like monitoring what people are saying about you, identifying good channels for you to start participating in, and offering constructive advice about how you can use social media for concrete benefits. The best question to ask them is ‘why should I bother?’ If the answer is in any way fluffy, then ignore it.
You ought to be interested in three things; what are people saying about me and/or my brand? Is it worth connecting with them and how? And, how can I use this stuff to do better sales or support?
What should firms consider before engaging social media?
The crux of the issue is: don't do social media just to be social. ‘Build it and they will come’ is a really bad maxim for this domain as sometimes people just won't turn up to your party.
My advice is that if you're interested in pursuing these tactics then you need to think long and hard about the value that your audience will get from it. There are plenty of great examples of expensive stunt campaigns and CEO blogs that did nothing by return. But if you have a concrete commercial objective and you can identify a community out there that cares for you and can contribute to your goals and activities then go for it.
Will McInnes, Managing Director, NixonMcInnes
How do you measure the success of a social media programme?
Measurement is a complex subject. The PR industry never successfully answered how you measure PR but did build some credibility around advertising equivalent value (AEV), which has become a yardstick for PR measurement.
You have to understand the goal of the project and anchor it to a real-world metric, such as sales figures, traffic to the website and amount of online chatter about a brand.
Measurement is something the industry is still working out. Industry figures get together at ‘Measurement Camp’ on the first Wednesday of every month to work provide a framework for measurement.
James Cherkoff, Director, Collaborate Marketing
What should companies ask a social media agency during the selection process?
How long have you been using social media tools and how has your usage changed during that time? What specific job do they do for you? What can't social media do for me?
Social media has moved beyond the theoretical stage. Now it's about identifying the right tools for the right job and applying them intelligently. At all costs, avoid the allure of the shiny and new, and concentrate on long term trends and data.
How will the industry pan out during the downturn?
Very difficult to say. No doubt many social media budgets will be cut along with other areas. And the term social media could quickly lose all meaning, which would make it a tricky niche to operate in. But much depends on consumer behaviour in the next year. There are some parts of social media that will become stronger than others. It comes down to finding specific jobs that can be done and, as ever, excellent execution. That said I'd rather be involved in social media than selling ad space on a local newspaper!