With 7 in 10 Singaporeans being active social media users, a statistic that is more than double the worldwide figure of 34% (Hootsuite 2017), incorporating social media as part of your marketing strategy is no longer an option but a necessity, whether you are a conglomerate or a small business.
It then boils down to the question of whether you should hire an intern to do the job, or select a Singapore social media agency. I’ve highlighted the pros and cons before, but if you do decide to go with a social media agency, it’s vital to be able to work well with whoever’s in charge from the agency. Here’s a quick guide on how to sieve out the good from the bad, selecting a social media agency that’s pocket-friendly and suitable for your needs.
(1) Check the Social Media Agency’s Own Social Media Accounts
Most importantly, a social media agency must have a good amount of followers on at least 1 or more of its social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. Though this may not be the case for all, do note that many social media agencies in Singapore regularly purchase engagement, likes and followers, so do be careful and use audit tools to check whether the agency or the accounts under it have purchased engagement, likes or followers to boost their accounts.
For Instagram, for instance, you can also look into the Insights provided – if there is a sharp increase in followers or likes, followed by a decline, you can be sure this agency has purchased some form of engagement, likes or followers. It might also have been using automation or bots to gather more engagement. You can tell by some of its automated comments.
You might also want to check out the copywriting, creatives and ideas on your prospective social media agency’s social media platforms. Check out their Instagram, the quality of the artwork, photos and the way they engage their audience.
(2) Decide on Your Objectives
Before getting a cost or quote from a social media agency, decide whether you want to outsource the entire social media to them, or just let them handle a specific part of it such as the creative content management, ads, fans engagement or even handling customers’ feedback.
Also, did your prospective social media agency make an effort to learn more about you and your business objectives? During the first few meetings, the sales managers from the agencies will normally just talk about how good their work is, and what are their processes. Only a few will bother to ask you about your objectives and what you want to achieve. Only hire a social media company that genuinely makes an effort to find out more about your business objectives, your brand’s tone of voice, personality and visual identity before customising a strategy for your business. Hire the one that asks you many questions and send you surveys and business assessments to fill in. This will be immensely useful because in Singapore, up to 80% of small businesses do not map out their business objectives nor do they have a good brand manual or identity in place.
(3) The Social Media Agency’s Ability to Plan a Strategic Direction
It is important to work with a social media agency that will plan a strategic direction together with your input. The Singapore agency must be able to create the strategy, execute it and then modify it if it’s not working, until it finally works and you get a positive ROI for your business.
(4) Is the Social Media Agency In Sync with Your Brand’s Style and Culture?
If your brand is stylish and caters to a more professional crowd, your social media agency should be able to understand that or even better, exactly embodies what your brand is all about.
A good social media agency will attempt to stay ahead of your industry, be able to update you on the latest happenings or is able to understand and incorporate the latest technology into managing your social media platforms.
(5) What Does Your Social Media Agency Call Themselves?
Digital marketing agencies, content marketing companies or social media marketing agencies – what are the differences?
In Singapore, there are many companies that identify themselves as digital marketing agencies, offering all the digital marketing services there are out there, such as Facebook & Google ads, social media management, content marketing and/or web development. But the truth is, every digital marketing agency has its strengths and weaknesses, and cannot be considered experts in all areas.
I would be more prone to hire an agency that identifies itself as a social media agency if I am looking for someone to manage my social media, rather than an all-encompassing digital marketing agency or company because a social media agency is more likely to be skilled in social media than a jack-of-all-trade digital marketing agency.
In particular, look for a social media agency that’s skilled in design and/or photographic skills, because social media is all about being visual, and you definitely need a highly skilled agency with a strong content, creative portfolio and a keen eye for design.
(6) Case Studies or Portfolio
Does your prospective social media agency have some case studies or portfolio? Review them and ask for the account names of the campaigns that they are managing for their clients and see if you like the style or what have been done.
However, some social media agencies might be relatively new and hence do not have anything concrete to show yet, though the founders could already have tons of experience in their previous corporate positions and more than capable to steer your business’ social media in the right direction.
(7) Ease of Communication
Was it easy for you to get in touch with your prospective social media agency? How long did it take before they reply to your email or call? If it proves challenging to get in contact with them, you can expect to have a similar response rate or even worse when you engage them as your agency.
Communication with your agency is core, and it is important for you to be able to contact your agency shall there be a need to get in touch with them urgently or send you the information you need.
(8) Measuring ROI
Find out how your prospective social media agency will measure the success of your social media program. They should be able to define the key performance indicators and you should be able to do an evaluation of their efforts at the end of every month.
Gradually, customers and agencies in Singapore are realising that vanity metrics such as engagement, likes or followers are really not what’s important and what’s really vital are what percentage of those metrics will convert to leads, and subsequently sales and revenue. But you must also note that social media is primarily a branding tool, and not a sales tool after all and to achieve this objective, you need to work hand-in-hand with your agency over a period of time.
It is important to ensure that the social media agency that you’re going to hire have a defined plan that will help achieve those metrics you are looking for, especially those that are most important to your business. Here are some examples of metrics that you might want to look at:
Number of Conversions from Social Media: How many conversions or sales did you get through social media? This is especially important for e-commerce or social commerce retailers.
Leads from Social Media: How many new leads did you get from your monthly social media activities?
Social Media Engagement: How much did social media engagement (such as comments, shares, likes, etc.) increase by monthly?
Social Media Reach and Growth: How many new fans or followers did your account gain or reach monthly?
Website Traffic: How much did website traffic increase per month due to social media?
If you’re startup or a small business with a limited budget, you might be tempted to select the social media agency that offers you the cheapest price. But I would definitely raise a red flag if that agency has a relatively cheaper price than the others – check if they are outsourcing all their work to freelancers or other smaller agencies, or even keeping an unhealthy employee and accounts work balance.
You might just as well throw that monthly retainer on a new pair of shoes rather than spending it on a social media agency that has no idea what it’s doing, doesn’t produces ROI, or could even damage your brand or reputation with poorly designed visuals or half-broken copywriting. There’s always a reason why things are cheap. The old saying that “you get what you pay for” is definitely true.
According to my observations and findings, social media agencies or digital marketing agencies in Singapore have on average 10 – 15 client accounts that are being handled by a single employee. On average, a social media marketer or staff should only handle a maximum of 3 accounts every month and that would already take up most of his time. It’s next to impossible to have one person handle 10 to 15 accounts and generate good results for your business.
(10) Check Out Their Thought Process and Blog
Find out more about your prospective social media agency’s thought and work processes by reading through their website, resources or blog. It shows their professionalism, expertise and knowledge in their selected fields, and you can also get a good perspective of how much they understand about social media marketing and customer engagement.
Check also on their knowledge about other social media related elements such as SEO, design and customer psychology. All these will aid them in understanding their customers’ products more, and hence help them in mapping out an effective social media strategy. Select a company whose perspectives most closely align to your business objectives.
It’s important to hire the right social media agency that can meet your needs and help you achieve your business objectives every month. Do the proper research, check around for its reviews on Google, or ask around for referrals. If possible, do not sign a contract that’s 3 or 6 months even if it provides you with some savings or discounts. There’s a possibility that the agency you chose might not work for you, and you might then be wasting your retainer fees.
Are you looking to hire a social media agency or professional? Get in touch with me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s have a non-obligatory discussion on how I can help you produce results today!
If you want to find out about how the different social media can work for you, check out the following articles: