It’s not easy being social.
While 92 percent of social media marketers say that social media marketing is important for their businesses, more than half struggle to measure ROI and effectively manage multiple social media campaigns, reports HubSpot.
Sound like your business?
Sure, setting up a Facebook page or Twitter account is pretty straightforward. But before you know it, you’re spending all your time responding to customer complaints and failing to strategically use these channels to achieve marketing goals.
Even the best time-saving apps, scheduling tools, and college interns can take your business’s social media marketing efforts only so far.
If you want to get serious about social media marketing, you need to partner with an agency that offers social media advertising services. But just because you’ve picked an agency partner doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing. Many small businesses find the subsequent onboarding period to be just as challenging, too.
The first three months of working with a social media marketing partner are critical for future success.
Small businesses need an agency marketing partner who understands how to help create the best possible social media marketing operation so you can efficiently and cost-effectively scale your efforts. And agencies need small businesses to understand that even with the most aggressive strategy, results won’t happen overnight.
Set appropriate expectations with your marketing partner from the beginning by asking these three key questions:
1. How Long Does it Take to Go Live?
Of all the questions to ask, this one is the most important.
The last thing your business should do is commit to partnering with an agency that’s going to spend the next four months putting together a social media campaign while you’re paying an arm and a leg for the agency’s premium advice. Onboarding doesn’t happen overnight. Your current digital marketing team will need to work in lockstep with the agency’s team to transition roles and adjust to new responsibilities.
But if the onboarding process becomes drawn out and takes longer than expected, you’ll incur extra charges with no leads to show for this investment.
Worse, there’s a risk for hidden and unexpected costs.
If you’re launching a new product in six weeks, for example, be sure that it’s sufficient time for the agency you hire to put together a social media marketing campaign in conjunction with the product’s launch.
2. What is the Average Payback Period that Clients See Working with You?
There are no guarantees in the wild and wooly world of social media marketing. What works for one business does not always translate well to another company. That said, you still want to hire an agency with a solid track record of success.
The right social media marketing company will not only create fantastic content at scale to support your business, but also drive top-line business results like brand lift, improved customer relationships, or more qualified leads.
Return on investment can vary based on your business’s goals (e.g., building brand awareness vs. lead generation). Ask to see examples of other campaigns for businesses with goals similar to yours and discuss the timeline for implementing programs and measuring success.
For how long did these programs run? At what point did clients start seeing a significant uptick in brand awareness or lead generation? How sustainable was this increase?
By spending as little as six hours per week on social media marketing, over 66 percent of marketers report lead generation benefits. A social media marketing agency should deliver much stronger results. Otherwise, what’s the point of paying them?
3. How Does Your Platform Measure Social Media Marketing Success?
The key word here is “how” not “can”. Virtually every social media agency claims they can measure campaign success. Far too many agencies, however, rely on metrics like increased site traffic or more social shares.
According to HubSpot, 96 percent of social media managers measure number of fans and followers, 89 percent measure traffic, 84 percent measure mentions, 55 percent track share of voice, and 51 percent track sentiment.
While it’s great for an agency to show that folks are sharing your content, that’s not the same as delivering in-depth engagement insights. Examples of critical insight metrics include attention time, topic resonance, and A/B headline testing. Don’t pay an agency to measure what you can do yourself.
Instead, be sure it offers metrics that pinpoint the key reasons why certain social media content pieces are more successful than others – and then has a clear feedback loop for adjusting content in accordance with performance.
Social media marketing is as much an art as it is a science. Even the most experienced, creative and innovative agency can’t guarantee all its marketing campaigns will be a success — and that’s okay. That said, you don’t want to waste valuable funds hiring an agency whose marketing approach doesn’t mesh with yours.
Doing your homework in advance will ensure your expectations are aligned with what your agency actually offers.
Social Media Photo via Shutterstock