Social media might be something your company has been avoiding. Or like so many businesses out there, you have created an account on each site, but have failed to reach an audience. Maintaining an active presence on social sites is time consuming and often overwhelming, which is why many businesses outsource their [reputation management strategies](/services/reputation-management/). There are many advantages to this arrangement, but before you leap into a contract, consider what is required to be truly successful.
–Why are you jumping on the Twitter bandwagon? Everyone tells you to, and they’re right, because businesses absolutely need a social presence in order to thrive in this age. But what are your personal goals? To collect a library of testimonials on Facebook? To increase online sales? The second thing to ask yourself is how do you want to measure the success? The answer to this depends upon what success means to you. It’s perfectly fine if you donat know the answers to these questions. A digital firm will help you understand what different doors social media can open for you, as well as what is to be expected from a successful strategy.
–Honestly assess your internal team. This is when you determine whether your staff can adequately implement a social strategy. Is someone available to create content? Direct the project? Who on your team can manage the role(s) necessary to accomplish your companyas objectives? Many businesses initially feel that this type of project requires 5-10 minutes a day, and that the strategizing is minimal. Unfortunately, those companies are the ones that continually leave social media on the backburner, due to lack of time or structure. Brands like these understand the importance yet have no room in their client-fixated schedules to focus on their own personal gain. In the case of such companies, it is common to seek assistance from a digital firm. This outside source must be professional, dedicated to your success, and exceptional at client communications.
–Do NOT send out a Request for Proposal. Many CMOs think they can make a better decision by forming a scorecard, conducting a “cattle call” and making a decision by committee. In fact, this actually lowers the talent pool to the lowest common denominator. Do your research online for a couple weeks and narrow the field down to a maximum of 5 digital agencies. Then call for phone pre-interviews. The goal should be to narrow the list of contenders down to one or two firms. If one stands out as a good match, contact them and initiate a one-on-one meeting.
–Be transparent. Once a selection has been made, you must be willing to share information, including budgets. A true digital marketing partner in the social media field must be able to understand your business in order to assist in your online initiative.
–Prepare to commit. Social media plans do not occur overnight. Drastic changes in the social media landscape can occur monthly. A digital agency must have the means to combat these shifts. Before signing with a particular agency, be willing to pay between 12k and 24k for the plan. Your first choice should have the option to write this plan and execute most portions of the plan alone or with your team. However, as described earlier, brands often have trouble pivoting attention and focus away from customers and toward their social media platforms. Therefore, don’t think that your team should be the only choice for execution. Development of the plan should take between 30 and 60 days. Furthermore, the plan should be written so that another digital agency could execute if necessary.
acExecute the plan. Once the plan has been written and reviewed, it will be time for digital execution. Roughly 75-85% of the time, this responsibility will be that of the Digital Agency that write the Strategic Digital Plan. The remaining 15-25% will be implemented in-house or with another agency. Be willing to sign a yearlong agreement, but insist on a 180-day out. In most cases, that should be enough for you to start gaining traction and see how your digital agency of choice performs in quality and in achieving deadlines.
The creation of content is only the tip of the iceberg. Social media is as effective as it is because of the social factor. Consumers enjoy being able to directly communicate with brands. And likewise, brands enjoy the personal interaction and engagement with consumers, both current and potential. It can be easy to get lost in the conversation, which is why a structured plan is essential. The right digital agency can jump-start your social media success with a tactical plan that is tailored to your brand and designed to reach goals.
This was a guest post by Scott Miller, president of Marketing Matters in St. Louis, MO. Scott’s experience in marketing includes creating and producing both traditional and non-traditional media for Fortune 500 companies. To connect with Scott, follow him on Twitter at @tuxmiller.