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How to Choose Social Media Marketing Agency for Small Business?

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Ivanna Shepetyuk
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Social networks is a place where your business demonstrates itself, communicates with customers and spreads information about goods and services. If you do it right, you will strengthen SEO, increase sales and brand awareness. If wrong, the effect will be reversed. Therefore, the question of how to choose a marketing agency to promote small businesses in social networks should be approached with all seriousness and responsibility.

Step 1: Define Your Goals, Tasks and Budget

Choose Social Media Marketing Agency

Criteria for determining marketing goals using the SMART method. Source of the image

Marketing goals. Before you start looking for an agency, you should formulate marketing goals for yourself - general directions for promoting a brand or a specific product, on the basis of which a marketing strategy is drawn up. Usually these are business benefits (increase in sales, average check, launch of a new product on the market, become a leader in the industry, etc.) or expected result (increase in subscribers and activity on social networks).

Now marketing goals are usually determined by the method SMART:

  1. S The more specifically a marketing goal is indicated, the more likely it is to achieve it. In addition, you also need to consider the rule: one goal - one result. If there are several results in the plan, then several goals are needed. Examples: gaining leadership in your niche, increasing sales, brand awareness or customer loyalty.
  2. M Use specific criteria and numbers to measure the immediate progress of the goal. Examples: you need to get 100 thousand subscribers on Facebook and Instagram, increase reader engagement by 10%, get 300 likes per post, increase conversion in advertising texts to 5%.
  3. A The goals set must be achievable. You should set real goals for marketers, not your dream goals. In addition, it is important for motivation: too distant and abstract goals do not trigger the dopamine reaction in the brain (dopamine is the hormone of motivation, its “fuel”).
  4. R The goals must be realistic, that is, those that you can achieve in the current state of affairs. For example, you are unlikely to be able to get 10 million followers on Instagram from scratch in one or two months, while 10 thousand is a very realistic goal.
  5. T Goals should be tied / time limited. Clear timelines and boundaries make the process controlled.
Marketing tasks. The marketing goals formed on the basis of the SMART model will serve as the basis for setting marketing tasks (actions), with which you can achieve your goals. The marketing agency will deal with the definition of these tasks and their implementation.

In summary, it may look something like this:

We will publish relevant posts on Facebook five times a week: memes, life hacks, informational texts and GIFs, which will tell about the culture of our company and will be useful / interesting to readers. The marketing goal is for the average post to receive more than 10 reposts and 300 likes, as well as to increase the conversion in advertising posts to 5%.

Marketing budget. Understanding what exactly you will do and how often will provide an opportunity to formulate a marketing campaign budget. Based on the above example, we will need to calculate the cost of posts and their promotion.

If one post costs $ 10, then for a month we will spend $ 200 on them (5 posts per week × $ 10 × 4 weeks), plus $ 150 for advertising your page on social networks (from $ 5 per day × 30 days). The cost of advertising depends on the social network, niche, demand, etc.

Step 2: Make a List of Potential Candidates

Where to look. Having determined the approximate marketing goals and estimated budget, proceed to the search for artists. You can do this in these ways:
  1. Search engines: Google, Bing, Yandex, Yahoo, Baidu. To do this, enter the query “Marketing Agency” plus your location or niche. The location is important, because the target audience of small businesses is in many cases residents of a particular region, city or even street (repair, taxi, retail, organization of holidays). In this case, the local agency is likely to have an advantage in understanding the specifics of promotion in the selected region, as well as the needs of its residents.
  2. Company listings: AgencyList, GoodFirms, Clutch and others. There are a lot of such sites. They are useful because, as a rule, there are ratings, reviews, lists of partners and completed projects, contacts and brief information about the company. You can also search for marketing agencies on Craigslist, OLX, and other online bulletin boards.
  3. Social networks: LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. All marketing agencies involved in promoting small businesses on social networks should have a page in each of them. You can find such pages using the search or in the profile groups: write the post “I am looking for an agency for ...”, and in the comments you will be offered many options.
  4. Referrals: colleagues, partners, relatives, friends. Ask about the companies with which they worked and achieved their goals.
Who to look for. During the initial search, you should pay attention to the presence of a portfolio, information about the legal entity, reviews and recommendations, a page on social networks, as well as experience in the right niche, communication language, etc. Make a small checklist and check every agency found on it.

If the company goes through all the points, enter it in the table with a list of potential candidates and continue the search. Companies that have not passed the checklist also need to be written in the table to know whether you checked them or not.

Who to look for Choose Social Media Marketing Agency

The price at this stage can be found only approximate or starting (the minimum set of services), since the cost of the services of a particular marketing campaign depends on many factors: goals, timing, niche, site, season, etc.

Step 3: Examine Potential Candidates

Company Portfolio. An extensive, detailed portfolio with the results of customer promotion is the main criterion for a good agency. Since if you want to know what a company can do for you, then the best way to do it is to see what they have done for other customers.

In the portfolio you need to pay attention to such things:

  1. Is there any experience promoting a small business, which one.
  2. What niches are the marketing agencies used to dealing with?
  3. Are there well-described use cases: initial state of a social page, marketing goals and objectives, tools used, budget, results. If use cases are not in the portfolio, sometimes they can be found on the blog.
  4. The issue of the cost of promoting a business on social networks.
Customer reviews and comments. Further, when choosing a marketing agency for promoting a small business, you should check what their clients and employees write about them. Customer reviews can be found on the agency’s homepage, LinkedIn, Goodfirms.co, Clutch.co and social networks. Many such assessments are written by the agency itself or by freelancers (this is normal), so do not believe everything that is written there. Estimates should be trusted if there is information about who wrote them: name, surname, position, link to a page on social networks.

review Choose Social Media Marketing Agency

How the real review looks like

Employee reviews can be found on Fairygodboss, Glassdoor, Vault, CareerBliss, JobAdvisor, WorkAdvisor and other such sites. With their help, you can learn about the internal "kitchen" of the company, which is sometimes very important, for example, if there is a big turnover and an unpleasant atmosphere that does not contribute to normal operation.

Blog and social media pages. The publication of blog articles and posts on social networks shows that the marketing agency has something to share with its customers and partners. The blogs describe use cases, industry trends, significant news, changes in the operation of social network algorithms, and also create familiarization and educational content. It’s not necessary to read everything, just check the regularity of publications and make sure that they are expert.

On social networks, they usually share news and successes, as well as links to blog posts. Sometimes there is entertaining content (memes, gifs). For you, the regularity of posts, their indicators (reposts, likes, comments), the design of the page and each post are important.

It will be rather strange if a company specializing in promotion on social networks has an ugly and unpopular page. Such artists should be screened out right away.

Public activity. Many good marketing companies participate in conferences, lectures, webinars and other industry events. Higher-class specialists conduct research and create training courses on Coursera, Udacity, Udemy and other e-learning platforms. If one of your potential candidates is noted in something like that, then this will be a big plus.

Step 4: Talk with candidate representatives

At this step, usually 5 to 20 candidates remain. All of them with a high degree of probability will be able to help you in promoting your business on social networks. It remains to choose a marketing agency with the best combination of price / quality. And here you can not do without a call and a personal meeting.

What to ask during the first call:

  1. Have you worked with similar projects, can you talk about them?
  2. What SMM services do you offer, what you do yourself, and what do you outsource? Often an agency is a curator and intermediary between business and freelancers: copywriters, SMM and SEO specialists, designers.
  3. How is the cooperation going? What, when, how and why they do. What is required of you. How is the communication.
  4. Cost issue.
At this stage, you can get a bonus - a free audit. Most marketing agencies are willing to spend a small amount of time for free to do a quick project analysis and consult. So they will have the opportunity to show their qualifications, and also this is an opportunity to "hook" on a client.

You need to use this: get a free audit from several companies and compare their analysis, conclusions and cost. Find the most professional (portfolio) agency and compare its analysis and findings with other candidates, if there are similar and cheaper options, choose them. Some clients specifically do a free audit at well-known marketing agencies (without even thinking about hiring them later), and then use it to look for cheaper options.

Step 5: Select Your SMM Services

Typically, marketing agencies provide comprehensive promotion services, which include all the elements of promoting a business on social networks - from writing a short note to a serious study of the target audience. However, not all of these services you need. They need to be selected based on the characteristics of your business and marketing objectives.

For example, for a regular online bookstore, texts and photographs are almost always enough (they can be obtained for free from the network). Whereas to promote a page on household appliances and electronics can not do without videos. If we are talking about architecture, then we need 3D models that work in a browser and / or VR devices. To promote analytical, financial and insurance agencies, you need infographics, studies, specialist interviews and market reviews.

Description and cost of various types of content:

  1. The simplest and most common option. The author writes a post that should attract the attention of current and potential subscribers (customers) and complete the task: like, repost, subscribe, sell, go to another site, etc. Usually this is 10-100 dollars per post. Some companies entrust artificial intelligence with writing texts.
  2. Image, photos, pictures, memes, gifs, comics. They attract attention more strongly and can simplify the presentation of information (meanings). Cost - from 5 to 1000 dollars (professional photos).
  3. Video content. Typically, videos are used to clearly demonstrate how the product works, what are its advantages and features. For example, this shows the operation of water and air filters. Cost - from 20 to 10 000 dollars (professional video).
  4. Graphics, 3D models, VR, AR and MR scenes. Needed to demonstrate spatial models, interiors, landscapes, architecture. Cost - from 50 to 10 000 dollars. You can greatly reduce the cost if you take a 3D shot from a real object (in miniature, if it's large).
  5. Promoting a page and individual posts using Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, Google Ads, and similar tools. It is not necessary to use them, but it is desirable, since this accelerates the achievement of marketing goals. Cost - from $ 5 per day.
If you are not sure which agency to choose and which SMM services your business needs, then you have the right to hire a company for a small test project. So you, without spending a lot of money, can see the real result of the agency's work on your project. If the result satisfies you, you can proceed to long-term cooperation; if not, choose another artist.

Merehead does professional development of Choose Social Media Marketing Agency. If you have questions, contact us for a free consultation.

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