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What to look out for while choosing a social media partner?

Srinivas Chari
10th Apr 2013
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This is the 5th article in the series of seven articles on social media. To read the previous four, click here...Once you’ve decided that social media marketing might actually benefit your business, you will realize that you have two options to set up the entire process in your organization. You could:

a)     Set up an internal team to handle social media

b)     Consider partnering with social media experts who will manage the whole process from start to finish

While setting up an internal team sounds like the easier thing to do, it is also the trickier option. To start with, one needs to hire dedicated resources who have considerable expertise in the field. To expect an existing resource to take on social media marketing in order to ‘learn a new skill’ would be a risky decision to make as a manager. Not only will that mean that the effort won’t get the kind of attention it deserves, it will also result in minimal results if at all. The other risk is that putting rookies up to the task as a learning exercise means that you should expect sub-par outcomes and a not-so-great reputation in social circles.

The smartest thing to do, therefore, would be to hire professionals for the job. Social media marketing isn’t just about creating Facebook pages and setting up Twitter accounts. Starting from creation of a comprehensive strategy to measuring RoI and outcomes, you are better off having an expert on your side.

So what does one need to consider while partnering with a social media expert?

Precious pitching

Contact prospective vendors and ask them to pitch ideas so you can decide on the approach that is best for your organization. If a vendor insists that you ride solely on their previous work to make a decision, be wary.

Customized solutions

When attending the pitch meeting, seek to understand if the vendor’s approach includes effort to customize the solution to your needs. A one-size-fits-all approach is the worst thing you could do for your social media marketing efforts. In that case, you might as well get a pre-schooler to go crazy with your social media accounts!

Knowledge is powerful

Seek to understand the depth of experience of the vendor. Check to see if they have experience specific to your industry. Experience in multiple channels is also crucial.

Walk the talk?

Do a little background research on the vendors. Do they have a powerful social presence themselves? Or are they strictly into preaching but not practicing? A social media marketing partner who doesn’t have a great social presence could be indicative of lack of capability or sheer laziness. Either way, it is cause to worry.

Dig Deep

When meeting the vendors, look for cues that show you how well they know the social media space. Delve a little deeper into what they are saying to identify if they actually know what they are talking about or just reeling off buzzwords from the internet. Ask for examples of proven expertise.

Content Generation

Knowing how social media works is one thing, but knowing how to tweak copy for social media updates is a whole other ball game. Here’s where you need to make a carefully thought out decision. If the vendor offers to take care of generating content, ask to know what expertise they have in the same. Ask to see samples. Ideally, organizations should be involved with their vendors in content generation for social media marketing since the organization is likely to be a better subject matter expert in that particular industry rather than the vendor. Explore your options and pick the arrangement that would suit your marketing strategy best.

Credentials

Ensure that you are taken through some of the work that the vendors have done for other clients. Ask for success rates. A good indicator would be timely execution of innovative strategies rather than tired old schedules for updates.

Price&Nature of contracts

Though this is usually higher on the list of priorities while choosing the right vendor, it appears at the end of the list for the simple reason that it is the most obvious. Find the balance between being a cheapskate and going over the top in terms of payment agreements. A vendor who’s worth the trouble will try meeting you halfway with options that work for both parties. As for the nature of contracts, ask to know what your options are before deciding what is best for your organization’s interests.

A competitive vendor should offer you:

  • Realistic promises
  • A variety of solutions
  • Sound reporting

Most importantly, you need to check if the agency is willing to spend the time and effort understanding your organization’s requirements and mapping it with the best solution for your brand.

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