In my last post I talked about how to determine whether you should manage your own social media efforts or hire some help. In most cases, it benefits you to have a little help regardless of what that help looks like. So let’s talk a bit about how to choose the right agency or consultant if you’re ready to make that investment.

Standard disclaimer: I do manage a social media/creative agency and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that my time spent writing articles like these hopefully indirectly sends business our way, but I’d also be the first person to tell you if we weren’t a good fit for your needs as well. One size does not fit all so be sure to be thinking about these 5 critical areas before hiring someone.

1. Experience – It goes without saying that you should never hire a consultant or agency with little to no experience. You get what you pay for. Now that doesn’t mean you have to hire the most expensive option out there, but at the very least, demand to see real world examples of work that has been done, and the results that came from those efforts. Look beyond Facebook Likes and Twitter Followers. Did they increase engagement? And if so, what tactics did they use that were specific to each client? How did their social media strategies align with their client’s business goals and objectives? Did they increase sales or leads?

2. Walking The Talk – One tell tale sign of whether an agency is the right one for you is to take a look at their own social media efforts. Do they do a stand up job for themselves? It’s surprising to me to often see agencies tout their social media offerings yet fail miserably at doing it for themselves. Don’t necessarily look for huge social followings here. The reality is most agencies won’t have that. Look for whether they post unique content frequently, and have a consistent voice and effort in these areas.  Also look for helpful content.  Agencies that make a commitment to being resourceful, transparent and engaging in a public way is a good sign.

3. One Size Does Not Fit All – Avoid boilerplate proposals and strategies at all costs. Every company/organizations’ needs are different and the right agency knows that. The strategies and tactics that make sense for you, while similar, will have unique needs and a good agency will provide you with a game plan that recognizes this. If their suggestions and documentation they provide feel like they were copied/pasted, look the other way. You deserve better.

4. Wow’ing You With Likes/Followers! – We have actually lost contracts to other firms who lead with glorious promises of thousands of likes and followers within weeks! Quite honestly, we’d prefer to not do business with most businesses that fall prey to these sorts of delusions of grandeur. While growing your reach is certainly a part of an overall social media strategy, it is not the be all end all. Don’t fall for the shiny new toys and make sure you align yourself with an agency that has done their homework and delivered you an overall strategic plan that goes well beyond reach.

5. The Gut Check – Everyone has the gut check. Everyone has that inner sense of whether a situation just feels right or not. No matter what, make sure you are able to have meaningful conversations with your potential agency/consultant. Bottom line…do you like them? It sounds silly, but it’s important because these are folks you will work with regularly. Do they communicate well? Do they seem genuinely excited about what you do, and the work they would do for you? Trust your instinct. If you’re in a position to hire someone to do this type of work, then chances are you have the chops to make the right call.

When you hire the right people, great things can happen for you and your social media efforts. I’m very lucky to have a fantastic team, and if you’re in the market, we’d love to have a shot at showing you what we can do. Regardless, the above should help you navigate through your search for the right agency/consultant.

Good luck!