How The Best Social Media Marketing Agencies Grow Brands
Expert marketers have access to top social media tools that enable them to pinpoint trending topics to share on social media. However, the most crucial aspect of identifying buzzy content isn’t just finding it -- it is then determining how it fits your brand and followers, and which channels the information will perform well on.
Additionally, the best social media marketing agencies will know how to “listen” to each social network and target demographic to learn what they are talking about. This is a different form of trend identification because it is directly targeting your demographic and learning what issues and information they care about. From there, the agency can create content tailored to them. Bonus: You can even listen to your competitors’ posts and followers’ public conversations to expand your fan base and stay in-the-know about your industry.
Top social media marketing agencies have teams in place to facilitate strong community management. Essentially, community management refers to the “unscheduled” posts to your social media accounts that foster a feeling of commonality and increase brand awareness.
Common tactics include engaging in conversations with other accounts and brands, responding to comments, and answering questions that your followers ask. Community management is simple but can be extremely tedious and time-consuming, so it is extremely helpful to have a team of trusted experts dedicated to the task. What’s better? It caters to many social media algorithms, like Twitter and Instagram, ensuring you rank higher in feeds and Discover tabs.
Great social media firms utilize their expert teams to create the content your brand will be sharing online. Production ranges from creating editorial calendars to copywriting, graphic design and even short-form video creation, depending on your needs and strategy.
These teams will also understand how to optimize each piece of content for its specific channel to secure the highest amount of impressions, engagements, shares, and click-through rates. For example, certain video lengths, images sizes, and caption characters are proven to beat social media algorithmsand perform better than other content. The good news? A reliable agency will handle these little (yet important) details for you.
It’s no secret that social media has the ability to drive traffic to a brand’s website. However, it takes a dedicated strategy, regular schedule and reliable content to really improve click-through rates and conversions -- which great social media agencies can supervise and execute!
Top firms manage multiple digital marketing tactics, such as sharing evergreen -- or always relevant -- content multiple times on multiple channels and writing the perfect copy to encourage users to complete an action without spamming your follower’s newsfeeds. They can also help you secure new ploys, such as Instagram Stories that swipe up to a web page without leaving the app -- even if your brand doesn’t have a verified account (although they can help with that, too…).
Strategy & ROI
Top marketing agencies can look at every aspect of social media -- including goals, trends, content, and demographics -- and use that information to formulate a specific strategy with concrete, achievable objectives. They can then they can track the success of individual campaigns and overall initiatives, and regularly report on them and provide suggestions to continually improve performance. After all, every social media post needs to drive a strategy further towards a business goal and, ultimately, result in a return on investment.
In terms of hiring the best social media marketing agency, search for the firm that has the experience and top professionals who can deliver the results you need to grow your brand. A higher upfront cost may produce a better return on investment, so look at the big picture and long-term ramifications before signing a binding contract.
Questions To Ask A Potential Social Media Marketing Agency
Ninety-five percent of adults ages 18 to 34 are likely to follow a brand on social media, and those various networks directly influence thousands of dollars in revenue and brand loyalty. Therefore, find the top social media marketing firm that is equipped to identify your consumers correctly, engage them naturally, and simultaneously market your business. The following questions will assist you in locating the agency who can combine their expert strategies with your objectives and brand identity.
- How will you determine our demographic on each social media platform?
- How do you determine a strategy to turn social followers into consumers?
- How will you find trending content that should be shared on social media? How will you determine the channels it will perform well on?
- How do you determine the right influencers or brands to partner with on social media?
- Do you have a process for combining social media trends and strategies with our business goals and brand identity?
- Do you have a team of designers or videographers on hand to create images, graphics, and social videos? Will they cost extra?
It’s imperative that you hire a team of social network experts that have the tools and abilities to identify achievable goals that will grow a business, then formulate a specific strategy to achieve them. The questions below will help identify the best agencies to take your brand’s online experience to the next level.
- How do you identify goals for each social media platform and large-scale campaign?
- After determining an objective, how will you formulate a strategy to achieve the goal?
- How do you plan to determine timelines and deliverables?
- What tools do you use to manage daily social media activity and community management?
- What resources help you identify trends and popular content for various networks?
Top social media marketing agencies have comprehensive case studies on their previous projects and campaigns, outlining every objective, deliverable and outcome. Be sure to ask each potential company about their previous successes and failures, plus what they have learned from them.
- What clients have you worked with in the past?
- What social media tactics do you have experience in (strategy, daily management, community management, dedicated campaigns, cross-platform campaigns, influencer marketing, etc.)?
- Tell us about some successful projects. What aspects made them so rewarding?
- What projects have you worked on that didn’t produce the results you desired? What did you learn from those campaigns and initiatives?
- How do your processes and results differ from other social media agencies? What makes your work stand out?
Analytics & Results
End results are the most important aspect of any social media marketing initiative -- and the top agencies have top-of-the-line tools to track data and a team of experts experienced in analyzing the numbers, drawing conclusions, and adjusting strategies. As the questions below to determine how best agencies track goals and report back to the client.
- What programs do you use to track analytics? Will we have access to those tools as well?
- What metrics do you report in? What is considered a strong performance on the major social media platforms?
- How often will you report to us on social media and/or campaign success? What will be included in each report?
- What process do you have in place for adjusting a strategy based on data?
Understanding exactly how much partnering with a great social media marketing agency will cost you is crucial. Learn how their pricing structure works, the dedicated team members you’ll have, and how many drafts and deliverables you’ll receive. Plus, ask if an agency’s pricing includes any programs or platforms that the team may use to avoid getting slapped with extra fees that your business is obliged to pay after you’ve signed a contract.
- Is your pay structure by-hour or a flat fee?
- Which team members will be dedicated to our account or project?
- How many drafts of each project can we expect?
- How many in-person and/or digital meetings will we have each week or month?
- Are deliverables or meetings capped?
- Will any day-to-day operations have any extra costs, such as labor, external public relations or program subscription fees?
- If we execute a large-scale digital campaign, is there a possibility of extra costs?
How To Choose The Top Social Media Marketing FirmFor Your Business
Your team of social media strategists and marketers are the key to creating a successful game plan. They will be the voices representing your brand across the entire Internet, determining the content to share and targeting the perfect demographics on every network. Make sure you know how often they plan to work with you, the workflow structure, and what platforms they use to identify trends and schedule posts.
Personal attention is important in social media marketing. Seventy-one percent of consumers are likely to recommend a brand if they receive great customer service or community management on a social media site. The right social media marketing agency will be cognizant of the consideration you and your consumers need.
Before you hire a social media marketing agency, take stock of your needs. Do you need full-service strategy and management, or are you hoping to focus on one or two channels? Perhaps you have a strong everyday social media team in place but need assistance with large-scale campaigns. Regardless, there is an agency with a team of experts who are equipped to handle your personalized business objectives.
Social media marketing is a wide category and includes networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, plus lesser-used platforms like Pinterest, Reddit, Quora, and StumbleUpon. Every business will have different needs on various channels -- or may not need certain networks at all. Your demographic and analytics will clue you into the social platforms that your consumers gravitate towards, and the best social media marketing companies will have experience in the specific channels that will grow your brand.
The best social media marketing agencies will have concrete work that can back up their top tools, analytics, and marketing buzzwords. Research their clients, campaigns and general community management to make sure they can deliver the results you want. Then, ask them specific questions about their prior projects and results.
Plus, check their own social media accounts to see how they are performing. If an agency claims that can boost your followers by thousands, but only have a few hundred followers themselves and caption copywriting that you don’t find compelling, odds are they won't be the best marketing agency to increase your brand awareness.
Top social media companies have a Rolodex of clients who are willing to speak to other potential clients regarding their experience with the firm. This adds a trustworthy layer to the agency-finding process.
Obviously, a social media marketing agency will portray their partnerships in a positive light. However, testimonials from clients -- or, better yet, specific recommendations -- will give additional insight into what the partnership itself will actually look like on a day-to-day basis and how the agency collaborates with clients to reach business goals.
Request An Audit
The best way to determine if a social media marketing agency is the right fit for your brand is to watch them in action with your brand. Request an audit or trial period for their services to see what they suggest to determine objectives, grow your brand and reach your business goals.
Keep in mind that many great agencies won’t give away all their knowledge without a signed contract. However, worthwhile firms will be able to produce partial audits, concrete advice, and enough strategy suggestions to show whether or not they have the skills and expertise to produce results.
Top Value Propositions & Differentiating Factors Of The Best Social Media Marketing Companies
Effective social media marketing is a core element of any successful digital marketing strategy. Social media has tremendous power to influence consumer opinion and behavior. It’s an important element of online reputation management, and brands that ignore it do so at their own peril.
Like any channel of digital marketing, effective social media management requires a high level of expertise -- expertise which many brands do not have in-house. Social media marketing companies exist to fill the gap and provide an even higher level of strategy and insight based on their breadth of experience working with customers of many varieties.
Despite the fact that social media is so important for brands in the modern digital landscape, there’s a pernicious idea that “anyone can do it”. Because nearly all of us manage our own personal Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts, it’s sometimes easy to minimize the level of experience and skill necessary to handle social strategy for brands. This has meant that a lot of fly-by-night social media agencies have been able to develop a foothold.
The key question for brands, then, is how to distinguish between reputable, trustworthy social media marketing companies, and those that promise big things but ultimately fail to deliver. Part of understanding the difference is in knowing what the key value propositions and differentiators of the best social media marketing companies are.
Top social media marketing companies are strategic
Social media marketing is anything but a series of random and lighthearted posts. In order to be effective, brand social media needs to be carefully strategized and executed according to plan. Top social media marketing companies understand the value of a marketing strategy and they often position themselves on their research-based approach to their campaigns. During the strategy phase of the project, the agency will engage in a discovery process that allows them to better understand the client, their branding and unique differentiators, and any challenges they face in the social landscape. This baseline knowledge allows the agency to craft a plan that is based on real insights as opposed to gut feelings.
Leading social media marketing companies are data-driven
Hand-in-hand with an emphasis on strategy, is a tendency to be data-driven. The best social media marketing companies use the tremendous amount of user data at their disposal to make informed decisions that impact their client campaigns. These companies pride themselves in being both creative and analytical. When searching for a social media partner, look for ones that take a data-driven approach to their work, and who monitor and analyze their campaigns on a regular basis. You can ask pointed questions about how often reporting will take place and what metrics you can expect to be included in each report.
The best social media marketing companies know good content
Quality content is at the heart of all effective marketing campaigns, and that’s equally true for social media. There’s no such thing as good social media marketing without engaging content, so the best social media companies are quick to establish their content marketing capabilities. You should expect that any social media marketing company you partner with will be able to help define and shape a content strategy as part of your engagement. In fact, any agency that doesn’t get involved with content, or at the very least doesn’t ensure you have a strong strategy lined up internally, isn’t one that will turn out to be a worthwhile partner in the end.
Great social media marketing companies invest in creative talent
Creative talent is at the core of the success of the top social media marketing companies. Without passionate, creative employees, they wouldn’t be able to do the innovative work that attracts attention from both clients and consumers. When evaluating social media agencies, you should pay attention to the ones that put the spotlight on their employees. How do they recruit talent and what types of qualities do they look for in the people they hire? How does the agency infuse creativity into everything they do? Look for agencies that are proud of they people they hire, that bring together diverse groups of people with wide-ranging creative skills for the betterment of the work they produce.
Reputable social media marketing companies earn accolades
Recognition and accolades are by no means the most important differentiating factor of top social media companies, but those that do manage to earn them are justifiably eager to promote their accomplishments. Awards and accolades for well-executed campaigns are indicative of a level of respect and achievement in the industry that can help distinguish cutting edge agencies from the competition. For many clients, though awards are not a determining factor in the agency selection process, they can help narrow the field and instill that final vote of confidence that will seal the deal.
Effective social media marketing companies focus on ROI
When companies are resistant to investing in social media marketing, lack of understanding of the value and ROI of the channel is usually at the root of their reluctance. That’s why top social media marketing companies tend to position themselves on their ability to achieve measurable results for their clients. The most effective companies know that in order to demonstrate value and keep clients happy, they must establish a set of clear, measurable goals before the campaign kicks off. Regular reporting and ongoing analysis are required to keep track of progress against these established goals. Look for agencies who can talk specifically about what they can achieve, and avoid those that rely on vague promises and platitudes.
Service offerings of top social media marketing companies
Many full-service agencies offer social media services, but there are also plenty of companies specializing in the channel. The best social media marketing companies are equipped to execute campaigns on any social media platform. Among their service offerings you’re likely to find:
- Social Media Audit - Before major work can get underway, a social media audit may be necessary to establish the baseline. This is where the agency makes an assessment of the client’s current social network presence and social media efforts, including successes, lost opportunities, and challenges.
- Social Media Strategy - A research and planning process in which the agency identifies the client’s target audience and the methods by which to best reach them. The social strategy will include social media listening to gain audience insights and will ultimately establish a blueprint for executing a social campaign.
- Content Development - The creation of content based on the recommendations and insights from the content strategy. Content can include anything from the most basic written content to full-fledged multimedia campaigns.
- Community Management - Day-to-day social media management which includes scheduling and deploying posts and responding to mentions and comments across social accounts.
- Social Media Campaign Management - The execution and management of targeted social media campaigns per the strategy laid out in the early phases of the client engagement. Will include both paid and organic content deployment.
How the best social media marketing companies market themselves
Social media marketing companies are majorly invested in digital marketing -- after all, it’s what they do best!
Websites and social networks are hubs of content for social agencies, and these properties are where they promote their work and highlight their client results. They also use web properties to demonstrate thought leadership on topics related to the industry.
Most companies will also rely on paid search and display to gain traffic from search, as well as SEO to establish organic rankings for relevant search terms.
Despite heavy focus on digital, offline tactics are not to be ignored. Many top social agencies sponsor and participate in offline events like conferences, seminars, and speaking engagements as another way of demonstrating commitment and engagement to their field.
Though social media is a relatively young field of marketing, it has quickly become an essential channel for businesses to invest in. The absence of a clear social strategy is detrimental to a brand’s ability to achieve success online, and in their marketing initiatives in general. To achieve the best results, brands partner with specialized social media marketing companies. The best of these position themselves on a few key differentiating qualities:
- Focus on strategy - Does the agency approach social campaigns based on a thorough and well-researched strategy?
- Data-driven - How does the agency use data to enhance their campaigns? What data is used and how is it reported back to the client?
- Content expertise - Does the agency make content central to their operations? What level of content expertise do they have and how do they partner with clients on this aspect of the campaign?
- Top notch creative - Is the agency as invested in the creative aspects of what they do as the analytical ones? What types of creative people do they employ and how do they ensure they attract and retain the best in the business?
- Respected and recognized - Is the agency respected within their industry? Do they demonstrate thought leadership on the biggest question of the day? Which awards and accolades have they earned?
- ROI-driven - Does the agency focus on generating results, or are they prone to make flimsy promises that aren’t tied to hard metrics?
Top Qualities Of The Best Social Media Marketing Companies
Any good social media campaign begins with research into the client’s target audience, their habits, and the types of content that appeal to them. Top social media marketing companies will engage in a thorough discovery phase where they learn about the client’s business, audit past and existing social media campaigns, and delve deep into audience insights. They’ll also look at what the client’s competitors have been doing and how successful their initiatives have been. All the data used in the research phase is used to inform the strategy that’s recommended.
The social media marketing companies worth working with always recommend completing a strategy before diving into execution. The strategy document should include key findings from the discovery and research phase and detail how these findings inform the approach the agency recommends. A good strategy will also document campaign ideas, milestones, goals and targets. Having a strategy not only keeps the agency accountable for the work they’re doing, but it also gives the client a clear understanding of how their money is being spent and what deliverables they can expect in return. This helps keep everyone aligned on objectives and working toward the same end goal.
Social media marketing is a highly creative field. Top social media marketing companies are able to come up with creative concepts that will make your brand stand out in a crowded and competitive social landscape. Look for an agency that has gathered together a team of talented social media specialists who have solid experience but aren’t afraid to experiment with new tactics and technologies. Case studies and examples of past campaign executions are a great way to get a sense of the team’s creative abilities.
Analysis & Optimization
Social media marketing is a channel that requires ongoing maintenance and optimization. Top social media marketing companies understand the importance of having a team of experts dedicated to every account. The team you choose to work with should be one that will run campaigns and take care of community management in a timely fashion. The internet moves at the speed of light, and you can’t afford to let customer inquiries go unanswered, so regular monitoring is key. More than monitoring though, you should also look for a team that will proactively engage with influencers in your brand’s orbit. This is how valuable partnerships are built. The agency should be regularly assessing the effectiveness of their outreach and making adjustments to strategies as they learn what works and what doesn’t.
Reporting & Communication
As a client, you deserve to know where your campaigns stand. Regular reporting is a key deliverable of any top social media marketing company. The best agencies to work with are the ones who value transparency and eagerly offer insights into how the campaigns are going. In your search for a social media agency, look for a partner who demonstrates strong communication skills, provides clear deliverables, and responds to your requests and inquiries promptly.