We’re often asked for advice on how to hire a great social media professional or agency. That’s exactly what the first point is, you want to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. You can’t exactly compare freelancers to agencies because there are some distinct differences when it comes to which type of social media management company is right for your business.
What to Consider When Choosing a Social Media Management Company
Cost of Freelancers vs. Agencies
Freelancers do tend to cost less than a social media management company, which is a benefit for small-business owners or those businesses in startup mode. They also tend to be a little bit more responsive and flexible when it comes to change. You’ll find with agencies, it’s not uncommon to spend several thousand dollars per month: three to five thousand, to start on the low end, on up if you’re looking for an enterprise solution. That’s because they are hiring a variety of skill sets that they have on hand and available if you need them – that could be graphic designers, copywriters, strategists, and analysts, whatever it is that you might need. Overall it is a different type of provider offering a much larger solution.
The next step, then, would be to ask about strategy. How does the provider go about helping you to define goals and develop that strategy? What you’re asking is for them to set some expectations for what you’re going to experience. Typically, a campaign is going to start with an audit, so you want your freelancer or your agency to look at what’s currently working and what is not working. It might be that your visual branding is not cohesive, and they need to make some changes. It could be that they need to introduce a new social media platform or take one away. There are a lot of adjustments that might be made up front to set that foundation for a successful social media campaign.
What Metrics to Measure
Next, you’re going to want to ask them how they’ll know the strategy is working? So really, we’re talking about reporting, and the provider should want that information as much as you do. Ask them what numbers are important and how frequently you’re going to get them. And will you get guidance in looking at those numbers and understanding what they mean? They should be ready and willing to explain, even provide a narrative with those numbers.
Why Avoid Vanity Metrics in Reporting
There is some debate among social media professionals about what is legitimate, versus what is a vanity metric (metrics that make marketers feel good, but that don’t always equate immediately into revenue). When we talk about vanity metrics, we’re talking about things like impressions (how many people see a post), or how many people like (or follow) your page.
If you were interested in brand awareness, you would care about how many people are following you, and how many people are seeing those messages that you are putting out into the social media sphere.
Clients looking for ‘money in the bank’ tend not to care about impressions or followers – they care about conversions. You may not care about aggressively growing your followers – you could have lots of people who like your page that have no intention of ever buying from you.
Otherwise, if you’re looking for ROI — that’s generating cash, money in the bank — you want to make sure that you and your agency or freelancer are on the same page with the kinds of numbers that you’ll be looking at and how frequently.