That is, you shouldn't select a stand-alone “digital” or “social” agency. That is simply a red herring. If you want to succeed in social media, you ought to look for an agency which can implement a stakeholder relations and reputation management programme across all media. Social and digital media simply offer different channels through which to spread your message. They complement traditional media and should be utilised holistically.
Your efforts need to be part of a rounded programme, seamlessly integrated across all media. And if you do opt for different agencies or practitioners, be sure to keep them fully informed regarding your projects and activities. For example, we found out that one of our clients had a radio advertising burst when we heard it on air for the first time. What a pity we weren’t informed earlier, as the message could have been amplified via social media.
We have previously written about the option of outsourcing your social medial campaign (Are most small and medium businesses wasting their time on Twitter?) ), but how do you know that an agency can handle social media?
There are essentially three reasons to outsource the management of your social media campaign, and these give insight into the way to choose an agency.
Running a social media campaign requires specific skills in terms of:
A well-run social media campaign is time and labour intensive. It is “social” for a reason: it requires human interaction. This cannot – and should not – be faked, whether it is proactive or reactive engagement. Companies and agencies often resort to using automated programmes to deal with the issue of time management. These can be excellent tools to organise and manage accounts, especially across different accounts and different media, but they need to be used with caution: imagine the scheduler pumping out tweets at night or over a weekend when some heart-breaking disaster occurs which make your tweets seem very inappropriate or even insensitive.
“Bot” accounts are absolutely fine, if they are clearly identified as such. Two examples would be @MarmiteBot which replies with “My mate marmite” to every tweet with the words “marmite” and “toast” in it, and @RedScareBot which responds with a random comment each time “socialism”, “communism”, “communist” or some other variation feature in a tweet.
So how do you identify an agency that would have the capacity to handle your account and use intelligent beings to manage it on your behalf? Look for the following factors:
We have frequently referred to the importance of quality content in social media (see: Content is King). This is no different to ANY stakeholder relations programme and the agency should be able to reflect that.
To determine if an agency can handle the generation of suitable, high-quality content, ask the following questions:
And finally, you need to consider the agency’s overall ability:
4. Track record
You need to take into account an agency’s success factors and overall ability within stakeholder relationship management in general and social media in particular.
Consider the following elements:
Outsourcing a social media campaign can be liberating for a business, but only if the correct agency is selected and the two parties can operate together for the overall benefit of the business. By taking the time to uncover the most suitable constancy to
manage your business, you will be in a better position to reap the rewards of a social media campaign.
From the desk of Gillian Findlay
Economist, data translator, communicator and fascinated by the world around us.