Social Agency Shopping? 12 Brutal Questions (& 6 Point-Blank Tests) Separate Innovators From Posers

Posted in Advertising Agency, Social Media

Shopping for a new social media agency can be a tricky process because so many poser firms have hung “social media agency” shingles. It’s extraordinary that some agencies making that claim have little background or depth actually executing social.  This article offers questions and easy to utilize flash knowledge-tests that no poser agency could bullsh*t its way through.

Poser agencies have pretty websites claiming social media services, but they’re actually old-world firms staking a claim as a recovery tactic for the obsolescence of that agency’s previous service focus. They’re often entrenched PR, SEO or link building companies searching for new relevance.

Finding an agency that can answer the questions and pass the tests below would be impressive. It’s likely that any agency that can will be a special partner.

Get Sample Answers

12 Brutal Questions

  1. poser-2How many years of history does your agency have actually providing social media services to clients? How many clients have you had? What brands?  Your agency blog has tons of posts about social media marketing. What clients have you executed these tactics for, other than your own agency?
  2. Social media communities now drastically restrict organic reach. What’s your agency’s strategy to support organic social content distribution?
  3. How does your social media management result in SEO success (social signals, links, SERPs)?
  4. How do your social media strategies serve public relations objectives?
  5. How will your social media marketing activities result in sales?
  6. What are the backgrounds of the employees who will work on my account? How many years of experience do they have? What other non-social-media marketing skills and experience do they have?
  7. Explain in detail how your agency proposes to use Google+. Why? Please explain why Google+ is important.
  8. What does “social share of voice” mean to your agency?  Please provide examples of your standard social SOV reports.
  9. poser-3Describe how the agency uses big data (Boolean queries, competitive social gap analysis, etc.) to reverse engineer and rout competitors’ previous and current social media strategies?
  10. How does the agency quantify branding, which can occur from social media?
  11. Does your agency understand current FTC disclosure rules? What safeguards exist to protect brand and agency alike from potential liability?
  12. Please provide examples of standard social media reports. Where does the data come from? What third-party reports and APIs are utilized to form the reports? How does the agency use the reports to increase attributable sales?

Point Blank Tests
The next questions are best levied in the moment verbally, as opposed to providing your potential social media partner time to research the answers. They’ll serve as a spot check as to the institutional knowledge of the account representative you’re dealing with. The more senior the rep, the more that person should know. These are the types of questions where, if you asked someone at a party, if they don’t know, they’re not serious social media professionals.

  1. poser-4Who are Facebook’s partner-data providers? Why are they important and to which aspects of social content distribution?
  2. What years were digg.com and stumbleupon.com most important to social marketers? Why were they important to the progression of social media? What evolutionary phenomenon diminished these communities?
  3. Why are social media and retargeting such a cool 1-2 punch?
  4. What are the most important differences between social media, PR and SEO?
  5. What do you hate about South by Southwest the most?
  6. What’s your agency’s philosophy as to how social is best tracked in an attribution model?

Now that old-school link baiting and building are long dead and buried, lines between social media, public relations, SEO and psychographic paid organic amplification are inexorably blurred. Near-ubiquitous attribution analytics facilitates a true understanding of how social fits in the online marketing ecosystem.  Targeted distribution of multichannel content (in a colorful array of organic, paid and hybrid page units) is no longer the problem.

Finding an agency that can answer these questions would be impressive. It’s likely that any agency able to would be a special partner indeed. Best of luck in your search!

Header Image © aleutie – Fotolia
Additional images © Scott Griessel, © nito, © Rrraum – Fotolia
  • Larry Kim

    re: “Why are social media and retargeting such a cool 1-2 punch?”

    Internet marketing guru, Marty Weintraub of AimClear argues that content marketing can and should always be amplified using both paid and organic social content distribution, no matter how strong the non-paid distribution, he argues that content is wasted compared to the exposure it could receive for relatively small money.

    Read more here: http://www.aimclearblog.com/2013/05/20/why-seo-link-builders-are-dead-without-paid-organic-social-content-distribution/

    :)

    • Marty Weintraub

      Larry, thanks for the thoughtful comment. We don’t think content should always be amplified. It’s just that there’s so little free social distribution that often times content is wasted if not amplified. Organic-only rarely results in false positives, meaning that if if it performs organically the content is likely good and scaleable. There ARE false negatives, meaning that organic only content that does NOT resonate may work if amplified. Some great content is missed by audiences that never see it.

      Great to see you in these threads Larry! Happy New Year.

  • Dennis Yu

    Marty– spot on, buddy!

    Smart to ask them about their process and reporting, since most social agencies don’t have that. Too easy to hide behind “strategy” or just running ads to boost engagement.

  • Poradnik

    Good article ;))

  • Steve Bostic

    Marty, we’re on an aggressive hunt for a social media, PR, SEO, Facebook, etc agency…We’re a mobile device oriented huge “cash back” shopping site.

    Question: How will I possibly ask the 12 questions of aimClear? LOL, seriously, I’d love to speak with you about your organizational expertise. We’ve heard great things and would enjoy exploring a possible fit.

    I suppose I’ll need to come up with some new questions. Although I suspect you’ll have some good answers!