Hiring a social media agency remains unchartered territory for many businesses. What factors are important when it comes to finding the right partnership for your business? What separates a good agency from a great one? How do you know what to look for when choosing a social media agency? We have put together a collection of key aspects to consider when selecting your social media agency. Read on for insight and advice to help guide this critical business decision:
References, recommendations & research
An excellent starting point is checking out an agency’s references. Who are their clients? What services did they provide these clients? Do they have case studies and testimonials? If so, take a look at these case studies and past services, including campaigns (where relevant). This will provide you with insight on whether the agency would be a good fit for your business based on your priority needs. It’s also a great idea to ask your own professional network for recommendations. People often only refer you to a business that they have had a good experience with themselves.
A bit of research on your part is also required. View the agency’s own social media platforms. Ok, so sometimes a business may neglect its own needs somewhat (I’m sure you’ve heard the term “the shoemakers kids go barefoot”). But you should be able to see the type of social media content they put out, the frequency of posts and if content is value-rich (not just salesy). You will also get a feel for the quality of the material they produce in terms of both visual appeal and engagement potential.
Means, motives & opportunities
Ensure that the selected agency has the means and resources to fulfill your business’s requirements. Do they have the internal resources, tools and systems to successfully manage your brand, along with their other clients? When enquiring about their capacity and capability, take into account future needs such as upscaling based on changing business demands. In addition to volume and expansion, well prepared agencies can cater to most, if not all, creative requests. For instance, supporting your entire digital presence and activities e.g. website optimisation, dynamic content, videography, animation etc.
Analyse their business model to find out what motivates their actions. While all agencies exist to make a profit, do they also take a client-first approach? For example, being agile; responsive and adaptable instead of having a rigid service structure. Customer-centric agencies are flexible in matters such providing personalised solutions, being available outside of normal business hours and adjusting in accordance to varying client and market needs. An efficient agency will also continually look for opportunities to boost your brand. Not just when it comes to marketing, but also factors like business growth, increased market share and so forth. This type of above-and-beyond attitude creates a mutually beneficial relationship between your company and the agency.
Expertise, execution & ethics
Social media management is not simply about posting pretty pictures and nice words. It requires practical experience, industry knowledge and in-depth expertise. To be a potential candidate, an agency should have a team of experts, each a specialist in their field AND in social media. This includes graphic designers, copywriters and strategists skilled at creating content for social media. It also extends to the execution of social media activities and campaigns. The implementation of solutions should be done in a highly strategic way, taking into account social media best practices as well as your business and its clients. Skillful agencies understand the various elements such as timing, frequency, algorithms, audiences, design and specific nuances per platform.
The social media landscape can be a minefield if not managed correctly. Partnering with an agency with questionable ethics not only poses a financial risk, but a legal one as well. Not to mention the possibility of serious brand damage at the hands of an ill-equipped agency. This applies to the service they provide to you, as well as how they represent your brand on the public platforms. Consider their level of legal compliance, industry knowledge, business acumen and customer service quality. How to they respond to a negative comment or complaint? Do they have a crisis management plan? Are they knowledgeable about the various social media legal requirements?
ROI, results & reporting
Effective social media management should be result-driven and based on your business objectives. Before committing to an agency, find out what their internal KPIs are. Ask them how they measure the success of activities for their clients. Do they analyse and understand the metrics that matter? (Click to read more about social media metrics). In order for you to track the performance of your social media presence, you need an agency that is able to produce reports showing the relevant data sets. This will determine your return on investment, as well as promote informed business decision-making.
At Social Media 101, our aim is not just to meet expectations, but to exceed them. Consistently and continually. We would love to get to know each other better over a cup of coffee. CLICK HERE to set up a meeting with the Social Media 101 team.
Firstly, to clarify, a website is important for every organisation, across all business types and industries. But in isolation, a business website is just not enough when it comes to online visibility for brands. Furthermore, a website alone is not able to drive business objectives. Changing consumer behaviour and evolving markets dictate that businesses need a multi-point strategy to succeed in the current landscape. In this article, we explain why a website should not be your only online platform. Instead, we propose an integrated approach, with social media forming a central part of your digital strategy.
WHY A WEBSITE ALONE IS NO LONGER ENOUGH
In a highly competitive environment, the brands that win are those that best meet customer needs and wants. As these change, so should business activities. Recent developments such as millennials entering the market and increased digitisation resulted in a changed consumer base. Characteristics of this evolved market include a change in:
Customer demands: Customers expect brands to be client-focused. These demands include convenience, responsiveness, personalisation, user-value and relevance. Customer experience is based on how well these needs are met.
Purchasing behaviour: Purchasing decisions are increasingly being based on the above-mentioned customer-centric values. As a result, improving customer experience has become a primary business objective globally.
Digitisation: Increasing use of digitisation by both businesses and consumers have changed the commercial landscape. This includes the rising use of e-commerce, mobile, social media and other technologies.
Business Trends: Trends indicate a growth in the customer experience approach, and a decrease in disruptive marketing tactics (such as unsolicited calls and untargeted messaging).
Based on the above, it is evident that a business website alone simply does not satisfy present customer needs or brand objectives. Fortunately, you can overcome these shortfalls by incorporating social media into your business strategy.
SOCIAL MEDIA AS PART OF YOUR DIGITAL STRATEGY
In terms of customer satisfaction, market trends, business objectives and overall brand growth, social media offers a wealth of benefits over a website alone. Such customer experience and business benefits provided by social media include:
- Business Visibility & Exposure: Your website being seen depends on users finding it themselves. This means they either have to explicitly search for it, or it needs to show up on search engine results. Even with SEO optimisation, the search phrase used has to match the wording on your website. This means only a small percentage of users will come across your website. And what’s the point of having an awesome website if no one sees it? However, you can use social media to drive traffic to your website. You can even customise posts so each one links to a specified landing page to showcase different elements e.g. a list of your services or your contact page.
- Outbound & Inbound Customer Targeting: Again, as a website relies on inbound traffic, only people actively searching for your brand or product will potentially become customers. Social media, on the other hand, allows you to find and target your core demographic. Messaging is placed in front of your selected audience, even if they have never heard of your brand. In addition, social media targeting uses advanced data and algorithms to determine other users that are likely to be interested in your business offering. This promotes customer growth and could even reveal new untapped customer groups.
- Sales: Social media can be used to drive online sales – both directly via a social platform, as well as by channeling traffic to your website. It can also be used to generate in-store sales through marketing and advertising messages. Studies show that a multiple-touchpoint approach is effective in driving sales, and social media is an integral part of the client journey. It also supports the non-linear way in which content is consumed – its about speaking to the right person at the right time with the right message. Ads on social media play a huge part in influencing purchasing decisions. In fact, statistics show that 90% of shoppers use social media to research products and services as part of purchase decision-making (Sprout.com). In terms of a basic marketing rule of thumb, 6-8 touchpoints are required to convert a sale. Social media speeds up this process, and as a result, can shorten the entire sales cycle for businesses.
- Client-focused approach: Social media is customer-centric by nature, and able to achieve customer experience goals. For example, by communicating directly with clients when it comes to customer service tasks, or publishing value-rich content such as articles or tips. This enhances customer satisfaction and leads to an increase in both sales and client retention.
- Location & Convenience: Social media is where your customers are – and therefore where you should be. It is where consumers research brands, consume content and even make purchases. Customers also prefer to interact with businesses via social media when it comes to queries and customer service requirements. Consumer preference of using mobile devices for online activity makes social media a convenient option as it is highly optimised for mobile.
- Relevant content: Unlike website content which is quite generalised, social media allows you to send targeted information to relevant market segments. For example, marketing your men’s range to men, and women’s range to women. Post links can be used to direct users to the related section of your website instead of them having to navigate. When needed, social media content can be adjusted with ease to ensure constant relevancy. Making changes to website content is a less viable process.
To summarise, a static website alone does little to aid in marketing, customer satisfaction or business goals. On its own, it is just not enough for online visibility. However, by integrating it with social media activities, you can develop a strategy that meets both client demands and brand objectives. Social media also provides data and insight into customer behaviour, promoting informed business decision-making. The convenience, responsiveness and value-rich approach of social media position the business as being client-centric. And as customer behaviour indicates, a positive image boosts brand affinity and, ultimately, sales. Coupled with its advanced marketing and business functionality, social media is vital for brand visibility and growth.
Ready to take your digital strategy to the next level? CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101.
While media platforms have always been used to attract public attention, it’s undeniable that social media has substantially increased the ability to drive publicity. This is great when it comes to desired communication like marketing content or positive messaging. But the problem arises when there is negative or controversial news that businesses would prefer to minimise. Many brands think that the best solution would be to avoid social media altogether. However, a lack of social media presence is not the answer. In fact, it’s likely to be a detrimental choice in the case of negative public fallout. If you are terrified of negative feedback on social media, read on to find out how you can turn a scary scenario into an opportunity.
Lack of Social Media Presence: Business Risks
Even if you are terrified of negative feedback on social media, not having an account does not prevent online commentary. It is actually likely to make things worse for a brand should unwanted publicity occur. Here’s why:
- The conversation happens whether or not you are there: if people want to talk about a brand, the discussion will take place regardless of whether or not social media pages for the brand exist. A brand can trend as a hashtag without having their own active social media accounts. Therefore, avoiding social media does not avert a possible scandal or bad publicity.
- Limited ability to respond: not having an established social media presence limits a business’s ability to respond should the need arise. Social media provides a way to communicate quickly and to reach large audiences. A brand without social media accounts will be at a disadvantage to every other online entity commenting on a matter due to a lack of infrastructure and existing audience.
- No crisis management plan or process: while no one wants to think about their business being in the spotlight for the wrong reasons, the reality is that it’s always a possibility. The difference between experiencing or avoiding major brand damage lies in being prepared. Having a crisis management system that includes internal processes, a social media response plan and contact list of advisers (legal, PR, HR, social media experts etc) is imperative.
- Prevention is better than a cure: the best way to protect brand reputation is to have a well-managed social media presence. Experienced social media planning and management aims at mitigating risk on an ongoing basis. This includes the content posted, responses to customers and other communication. And should an unforeseen issue arise, the impact will be minimised as well through the use of a specialist social media agency.
Social Media Risk Mitigation & Effective Management
The key to a positive social media presence lies in doing it properly. Platforms and activities should be managed by a team equipped with the necessary knowledge-based skills. In addition to publishing content in line with social media best practices and business objectives, great customer experience is vital. Customer service has to be responsive, agile and solution-based. When used effectively, feedback (both negative and positive) offer the following benefits:
Opportunity for improvement: Patterns in terms of negative feedback reveal areas that need immediate attention. Taking corrective action results in an improved service offering.
Opportunity to shine: The way that negative feedback or a complaint is handled can have a major impact on customer perception. Impressing an unhappy client by resolving a matter excellently is likely to turn that person into a satisfied ambassador singing praises about the brand.
Research & Business Development: Feedback provides valuable insight into consumer preferences and behaviour. By analysing the correct social media data, businesses can base future plans accordingly, thus maximising success potential and promoting positive business growth.
In a consumer environment fuelled by social media and public commentary, the importance of an online presence is inescapable. The “ostrich” approach (head buried in the sand, ignoring reality) just does not work for businesses. Avoiding social media does not reduce the chance of trending online for all the wrong reasons. It just reduces the brand’s ability to respond. You should not be terrified of negative feedback on social media. The real solution lies in having strategies in place to mitigate potential risk, as well as to effectively manage the situation should a crisis occur. If an organisation does not have the required resources, its best to call in the experts. Either way, effective management of feedback and activities can contribute to valuable business growth and positive brand affinity.
As part of our service offering, Social Media 101 are able to consult with your business with regard to implementing tools and process for crisis management and risk mitigation. Get in touch to find out more. CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101
Social media success – does your business have what it takes? Let’s say you need a new accountant or sales manager for your business. You shortlist candidates based on experience, skills and knowledge specific to the position in question. You then choose the best person based on your criteria as well as their proven ability for such a role. Great! Now let’s say you need someone to manage your social media. Do you research and select employees with the same level of scrutiny and detail? Is your business aware of what selection criteria to consider for a social media manager? How would one even measure competency for this role?
For most companies, the ability to perform basic social media tasks such as uploading posts and replying to messages would seem sufficient when hiring. Worse still, many companies assign their social media management to in-house staff members that are not qualified for the role. In our book, this is not just unfortunate, but also decidedly risky. Here’s why:
Risks of not hiring the right team to manage your social media
The risks of leaving your social media management to a junior or non-skilled employee are many and can have serious consequences. These are just some of the problems that occur:
Although seemingly simple, social media is a science and entails a steep, on-going learning curve. Yes, most of us are capable of populating and managing our personal social media pages. However, it is not quite the same when handling a business page or brand online. The impact of a business’s social media presence is far reaching, and involves company staff, clients and stakeholders. Pages should be managed with a great level of maturity, power and responsibility on behalf of the brand. Furthermore, this field is evolving at a rapid pace. Most social media platforms themselves are striving to keep abreast of their own advances to ensure user safety and online integrity. And social media managers need to stay on top of these changes. An effective social media manager needs to have impeccable business acumen, a hunger to constantly learn and upskill, as well as high EQ and risk mitigation abilities in order to protect the brand’s best interest.
Content published via social media (including replies to comments) has the potential of enormous reach, regardless of your page’s audience size. Usually such viral reach occurs in response to something negative or controversial and could even result in a crisis. This power lies with your community manager, so think carefully about who is placed in charge of this impactful public touchpoint. Aside from an actual crisis, a poor quality or poorly handled social media account leads to a negative portrayal of the business. It may even cause serious brand damage. Companies spend large amounts of money on impressive traditional advertising, yet all efforts could be undone by a low quality social media presence. The role of brand sentiment and perception is huge when it comes to consumer decision-making, and should not be taken lightly.
Social media should be used strategically to drive organisational objectives. It is a business tool that provides return on investment when used effectively. Simply putting out posts without any clear strategy does not offer much benefit to the business. It becomes an inefficient use of funds and resources. However, when used correctly, time and money spent on social media becomes an investment that offers tangible business value and boosts growth.
Components for a successful social media presence
To ensure a successful social media presence that offers real business value, you need the following:
- Strategic content planning & execution
- Content (images, videos and text) created by skilled designers & copywriters with in-depth knowledge of social media platforms, rules, specifications, algorithms etc.
- Posts that are both aesthetically pleasing & are structured around customer-centric principles
- Excellent audience targeting
- High quality, responsive community management
- Ability to meet agility & adaptability demands
- Skills to generate, analyse & understand the data behind the platforms
- Keeping abreast of technological advancements & industry trends
- Apps/tools to manage & report on different aspects of activities & campaigns
Practical solution for social media success
Major or global brands have the resources to employ the team needed to achieve all aspects mentioned above. However, most companies lack the resources to hire staff to fulfill all their social media needs. The cost of employing the different specialists required becomes too excessive to be a practical option for many. But yet, a high quality social media presence is becoming increasingly imperative in the current competitive market. The solution is to outsource this function to a social media specialist agency. By doing so, you get the benefit of an entire team, with each person an expert in their specific social media function. You get a digital strategist, community manager & data analyst. You also get designers and copywriters that specialise in creating content for social media. In addition, other needs such as live event coverage, videography, animation, social media legal advice and more form part of the service offering. That’s a great deal – as I’m sure you’ll agree.
If you are ready to take your social media presence to the next level, get in touch with Social Media 101. We provide custom solutions to suit your specific business needs. CLICK HERE to contact Social Media.
Are you unknowingly hurting your brand on social media?
How agile is your marketing strategy?
Some hail social media as the greatest business and marketing tool of all time. Yet others view it as a frivolous concept that has no place in business. Why are there such vastly different opinions when it comes to social media? The answer lies in how different businesses use their social media platforms. Those who use social media effectively as part of their business strategy realise the ROI offered by social media. Others are understandably sceptical – after all, incorrect use of social media is likely to provide limited benefits and questionable returns.
Let’s start with this question – what does YOUR social media do for you? Does it drive sales, or any other primary business goal? Does it provide returns? Do you even get reports so that you can assess the performance of your online activities? If your answer to any of these questions is “no”, you are not alone. On a survey done with business marketing managers regarding their social media:
- Only 20% are referring to the data & using it to measure the performance of their activities
- 36% know that it has a positive impact (qualitatively), but are unable to quantify the benefit in terms of actual numbers
- A whopping 44% have been unable to measure its impact at all
(Statistics courtesy of www.mgadvertising.com)
Social media offers a wealth of benefits for business, and can be used for/to:
- Driving sales (online & instore), as well as generating sales leads
- Building brand awareness & affinity
- As a client-centric customer service point
- Consumer research & audience insight
- Marketing, advertising & promotions as a versatile platform that supports multiple media & messaging types
- Target core market segments with little or no wastage on irrelevant consumer sectors
- Source of accurate statistical data & reporting that can be used to measure returns
…and much more. In fact, social media can be used to promote almost any business objective. BUT only when used correctly.
The components of an effective, social media presence that generates returns include:
- A result-driven, strategic social media plan for all activities, in accordance with business objectives
- Designers & copywriters skilled at creating content for social media. This includes written copy & images that are not only visually appealing, but in line with each platform’s best practices & algorithms
- Targeted content sent to audience segments relevant to the brand
- Platforms & conversations handled by people experienced in both customer service & social media community management
- A social media presence that is agile, responsive & adaptable
- Analysis of business-relevant reports & data to measure the performance of social media activities
- Investing in qualified & experience social media specialists
Accessing the tangible business benefits including ROI offered by social media lies in having an experienced team managing all activities. This includes strategy, content creation, posting, audience targeting and managing the conversation. Unfortunately, most businesses leave this crucial task to unqualified employees. Others hire junior social media staff that lack the necessary skill and experience. Many companies simply don’t have the resources required to employ a team that fulfills all the needs of a high quality social media presence. The solution is to outsource this function to social media specialists. After all, if you want your car repaired, you take it to someone who knows the inner workings of cars, and how to fix them. Taking it to an unskilled person is likely to cause more damage to your vehicle. Well, the same goes for social media. Poorly handled social media activities could cause damage to your brand in the long run.
Should your business require assistance when it comes to tapping into the ROI offered by social media, contact industry experts Social Media 101. We can provide valuable advice and a health audit on your current social media accounts. We also offer custom solutions to meet your business’s social media needs.
CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101