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How to find a social media marketing agency

If you’re struggling with your social presence these days, you aren’t alone.

After all, businesses have their hands full when it comes to social media and customer expectations.

But perhaps what’s most striking is just how many goals brands are tackling at the same time. Here’s a quick glimpse from Sprout’s 2019 Social Index.

By working with a social media marketing agencies, businesses can reach their goals fasterWith so much on our plates, it’s no wonder why brands are looking for helping hands who’ve walked the walk on social media.
That’s where a social media marketing agency can be a lifesaver.
In this guide, we’ll help you understand what to look for in a social media agency and how to make sure your agency experience is a positive one.
Why hire a social media marketing agency, anyway?
OK, fair question.
The amount of information and resources available to modern marketers is staggering.
Heck, just look at what we offer at Sprout. Between our suite of social media management tools and strategy guides, we’ve managed to help countless businesses grow their social presences from scratch.

That said, a DIY approach to social media isn’t always ideal or plausible. Not every business can take care of social media in-house and hey, that’s totally OK.

How can a social media marketing agency help you fill in gaps or level up your strategy when it comes to social media and your business goals, though?

Agencies have an unparalleled level of expertise

Simply put, agencies are capable of running campaigns and providing a level of knowledge that simply isn’t possible in-house.

For example, an agency with a proven track record of running social ads has a definite edge on someone learning the ropes of Facebook’s in-depth ad-targeting.

And rightfully so. That sort of expertise is what you’re paying for.

Social media is so much more than clever captions and chasing the white rabbit of “going viral” (ugh). The fine details of social algorithms, audience segmentation and analytics alone require some serious knowledge to navigate. Again, that’s the benefit of hiring someone who’s been there and done that.

Whether it’s because of their years of real-life experience, their breadth of client work that has exposed them to a variety of social and marketing tactics, or just the fact that agency professionals live and breathe social and digital marketing strategies day-in and day-out, agencies are an untapped resource for so many brands … an expertise that folks can’t always replicate in-house.

The same rings true when it comes to growing communities or engaging customers. Sure, you could do it yourself. But would it make sense in terms of your team’s time and energy? A campaign that might take months for you to put together in-house can be done by an agency in no time

Agencies have access to top-tier tools

On a related note, any agency worth their salt has access to tons of tools and analytics platforms to help manage those campaigns and produce results faster. For example, we love to shine a light on success stories such as B Squared Media who used Sprout’s agency tools to increase their client’s campaign CTR by nearly 60% (and engagements by over 650%).

social media agencies can help drive engagement that would otherwise be impossibleAgencies can juggle multiple campaigns at once
It might be cliche to say, but time is money.
Agencies have the bandwidth to run multiple campaigns at once that could otherwise bog down your team internally. By working with a social media marketing agency, you can make better use of your team’s time and get more done with the people you already have.
Agencies can elevate your team’s own social skills
Contrary to popular belief, working with a social media marketing agency isn’t simply a matter of outsourcing.
In fact, working directly with an agency is arguably one of the best ways to invest in your own team’s social skills.
Think about it. Campaigns run by agencies can clue you in on what strategies, tactics and channels make the most sense for your brand. Each data point or success story on behalf of your business is a lesson in what works (and doesn’t) on social media. This mentality is especially important if you only plan on working with an agency for the short-term.
The common thread of these benefits? A social media marketing agency can be the key to uncovering a positive ROI for your social efforts.
Sprout’s 2019 Social Index notes that 63% of companies are concerned with explaining and improving their social ROI, with that number likely to tick upward in the future. The insights from a social agency can do the trick for brands still trying to wrap their heads around social.
How do I know if I need a social media agency?
You might be wondering whether you’re “big enough” to work with a social media marketing agency.
And on the flip side, you might assume that doing so is simply out of your budget.
The reality, though? Just as no two business’ needs are the same, there is no “one-size-fits-all” in terms of what an agency does or looks like.
Companies both big and small work with agencies big and small. Whereas an enterprise-level business might need help with community management or social content creation, small and solo businesses might invest in a one-off social audit.
Here are some questions to ask that can help you understand whether working with a social media marketing agency makes sense.
Do you need a fresh perspective and expertise to help define your social media goals and social media campaign strategy?
Are you struggling to grow your social following or engagement rate?
Are you failing to see a clear, definable ROI for your social media presence?
Do you suspect that you’re spending too much time or money in-house on social media?
Are you capable of sourcing leads from social media but aren’t sure how to close them?
Do you have a sizable budget for social media internally but aren’t sure how to maximize it?
If “yes” to any of the above, it might be time to explore what agencies have to offer.
What social media agency services are right for my business?
At this point, you may be wondering what the heck a social media agency actually does for clients on a day-to-day basis.
The short answer? It depends.
Based on our 2019 Agency Report, here are the most common social media agency services offered today.

social media agency servicesSocial media management. Allowing an agency to take the reins of your social presence can save you a ton of time and stress.
Paid social media. More and more brands are investing in social ads as the landscape becomes increasingly “pay to play.” An agency can help you craft paid campaigns that actually result in returns.
  • Content development. Creating social content can be complex and time-consuming depending on your industry. If you’re stuck in terms of strategy, an agency can certainly help.
  • Analytics. Breaking down your social metrics goes hand in hand with that ever-so-important ROI. Agencies can make sense of your numbers and take action accordingly.
  • Strategy.  What should you post? What should your priorities be in terms of channels and engagement? Whether as a one-off audit or through ongoing consultations, an agency can let you know.
  • Engagement. Social algorithms are fickle and platforms are constantly changing. Rather than second-guess the best practices of scoring social engagement, agencies live and die based on their ability to move the needle.
  • Community management. Creating engaged, active social communities is one of the most rewarding yet time-consuming aspects of social media. For some brands, an agency is the only way to really make those communities possible.
  • Chances are you might need help with more than one aspect of your social presence. Thankfully, most agencies offer multiple services and packages to help clients reach their goals.

    How to choose a social media agency

    Now, onto the good stuff!

    Let’s say you’re at the point where you’re trying to choose between social media agencies and wondering what to look for. Here are the major points to consider before you come to a decision.

    Start with their track record

    If you want to know what an agency can do for you, look at what they’ve done for other clients.

    An extensive, detailed portfolio with proven client results is what separates the best social media marketing agencies.

    Do the clients they’ve worked with mirror your own business or industry? What numbers are they boasting and how are they backing them up?

    Ideally, you can find someone who has published case studies which detail their track record and process. For example, Walker Sands has some incredible case studies that dive into specific metrics and results from their clients’ campaigns.

    social media agencies should be able to prove their track recordsSo does Thin Pig Media, a full service marketing agency that seeks to be a true extension of their clients’ teams.

    Figure out if they fit within your budget

    Before you get enamored with an agency, you need to make sure that you can realistically afford them.

    The good news? Investing in an agency doesn’t mean breaking the bank. There’s a rather wide array of pricing based on specific needs and services. You can learn more from our 2019 Agency Report noted earlier.

    average rates for social media marketing agency servicesAgain, some agencies package their services while others offer pricing based on your audience size.
    See what they specialize in
    Just like businesses occupy niche industry spaces, agencies can do the same.
    Some agencies might specialize in working with brick-and-mortar retailers. Others might work primarily with larger SaaS clients.
    Additionally, some agencies might have secondary services such as content marketing or SEO that go beyond the scope of solely social media. In addition to the services themselves, also consider how hands-on (or hands-off) an agency expects to be.
    For example, Chatterkick has an amazing services page which details not only what they do as an agency but also the level of involvements clients should expect.

    chatterkick social media agency servicesAnd hey, that actually leads us to our final point.
    The importance of expectations when working with a social media marketing agency
    To wrap things up, one of the most important aspects of working with an agency is mutual alignment and communication about expectations.
    Listen: agencies aren’t miracle workers. Businesses should be both patient and realistic in terms of what they expect an agency to do.
    Is it in an agency’s best interest to turn you into one of their success stories? Absolutely. Yet just because your business doesn’t blow up overnight doesn’t mean that an agency has failed. Not by a long shot.
    Investing in understanding the why and the how of the work that your agency does helps you develop a level of trust and proactive communication to build on day-to-day tactics, not feel in the dark and wondering how your money is being spent.
    Businesses and agencies must clearly communicate what they expect from each other. Although this isn’t a one-way street, many agencies note that the worst agency<>client relationships are due to vague or unclear expectations about what working together means. The need for business and agencies to develop an open, cooperative relationship can’t be stated enough.
    common pain points of social media marketing agenciesIt all circles back to businesses looking for a positive ROI and agencies being able to deliver. This is exactly why businesses and agencies alike work so closely with tools like Sprout to make sure everything’s on the up-and-up.
    Sprout's robust suite of collaborative monitoring and management tools are perfect for agenciesReady to find the right agency for your brand?
    With the tips above, you have just about everything you need to start hunting for a social media marketing agency.
    But we also have something else to speed up the process.
    We recommend starting your search with Sprout’s agency partners. Our directory can help you hone in your search and find certified agency partners that have Sprout’s suite of tools baked into their services. You can also search by specific parameters such as top-rated and tiers.

    sprout social agency partner directoryPssst – if you happen to be part of an agency, make sure to sign up to join our agency partner program yourself.

    To wrap things up, we still want to hear from you. If you’re on the fence about hiring a social media agency, why? What has your experience been like working with agencies in the past? Let us know in the comments below!

    This post How to find a social media marketing agency originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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    About Daniel Rodgers

    A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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    Tales from the Trenches: How to Transition from Marketing Doer to Marketing Leader

    I was roughly five years into my marketing career when I began managing my first direct report. It was the biggest challenge I faced yet. I was now being evaluated on the actions, successes, and failures of another person—and I also knew it was my responsibility to give them the support and tools they needed to have more successes than failures.

    I felt as if I didn’t know how to influence, motivate, or persuade another person. But I was given the opportunity to try and to learn. I had a great group of bosses, mentors, and peers giving me advice, listening to my concerns or wins, and allowing me to make mistakes.

    Quite a few years (and many direct reports) later, today I have a much better handle on how to manage a team. And as I’ve grown, I’ve learned that my job isn’t just to manage people, time, projects, or priorities, my job is to lead.

    But it can be hard to make the transition from a “doer” to a leader. And the stakes are high. In fact, a recent study from TINYpulse found that nearly 50% of employees have quit a job because of a less than stellar manager. In addition, those who don’t feel recognized for their work are two-times as likely to be job hunting.

    Whether you’re stepping into your first management role, moving onto middle management, or you have your eye on the CMO office, as a leader it’s your job to inspire, motivate, and grow a happy and high-functioning team. The insights below are designed to help guide you down a successful path to a fruitful career and happy, supported, and motivated employees. 

    Tip #1: Understand the landscape

    Whether you’re managing one team member or an entire department, you’ll be setting goals and playing an integral role in setting the marketing strategy your team is responsible for driving results with. But to do that, you must understand the broad and niche context in which your organization, department, or service line operates. This means getting to know your customers, prospects, and competitors more deeply, so you thoughtfully can guide and educate your team:

    • Seek out opportunities to hold monthly or quarterly one-on-one calls with your priority customers. Ask them what they value most about your organization or product, as well as where you can do better. 
    • Regularly research your competitors. Subscribe to emails, follow them on social media, and attend industry events where they might be speaking. This will give you unique intel that you can bring back to your team.
    • Get out of the marketing silo. Brainstorm with the sales team. Talk to your customer service team. These teams are intimately familiar with the challenges your customers and prospects face.

    Tip #2: Set goals … and exceed them

    Yes, you’ve probably be setting goals at all stages of your career. As an individual contributor, your goals were likely focused on what you could individually achieve. In a leadership role, you’re likely responsible for setting goals for your team that will ladder to corporate goals. If you are new to a leadership role, achieving goals that map directly to the success of the company, can be a quick win to build trust within leadership and grow your team and influence. 

    • Keep your goals top of mind. Discuss progress, roadblocks, and wins with your team, your boss, and other leaders. The more discussion around goals, the more likely you and your team are to remain focused and accountable on achieving them. 
    • Incentivize if you can. Big and small incentives can keep your team motivated to achieve their goals.
    • Make it a number. In my experience, setting and achieving a numerical goal has more impact on the organization and is generally more impressive than an accomplishment-based goal. For example, make the goal double MQLs, instead of rolling out a new marketing automation system. The marketing automation system is a stepping stone to reach the goal, not the actual goal. 
    • Set goals quarterly. Ninety days is long enough to achieve something big-ish, but short enough to keep you focused. We’ve found quarterly goals helps us track for the year and keep the team more motivated. 

    [bctt tweet="The more discussion around goals, the more likely you and your team are to remain focused and accountable on achieving them. @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

    Tip #3: Focus on scalability

    Once it’s time to step out of day-to-day execution and supervision and into leadership, you should focus more on optimizing and solving issues on a systematic basis, rather than local basis. When I was a new manager, I found myself constantly on the run putting out fires as they would pop up, instead of focusing on why it started and how to prevent it going forward.

    • Create make-sense processes. Identify the things your team does over and over again such as campaign launches, attending events, or adding new content to the website. These are replicable events that you can create process around and then optimize for efficiency, results, and so on.
    • Don’t feel like you have to stick to the status quo. Just because the marketing team has always had six copywriters, two content strategists, and an analyst, doesn’t mean that’s the ideal structure. Document the needs and functions of the organization and then map out the most make-sense roles to those needs. For the sake of the exercise, take the current situation out of it. You can employ a phased approach to get you from current situation to ideal. 

    Tip #4: Shift the spotlight to your team

    As you’re moving into leadership, you’re likely trying to build trust and show value to upper leadership, and it can be easy to lose focus on serving your team. Fostering a happy, well-functioning team is your top priority. Not only can you not do your job without them, but it is one of the best indicators of success to your boss and your boss’s boss. 

    • Shift how you find personal value from work. Most of us have moved into leadership, after being highly successful individual contributors and supervisors. As leaders, we must find more value from the task, result, or project we helped someone else achieve, rather than the work we did ourselves. 
    • Clear obstacles. Be transparent when you can; have your employees’ backs. These things build trust and create a secure, happy, and productive team. 
    • Cultivate the next round of leaders. Understand what your team wants to achieve personally within their careers within the next five or 10 years, and help them do that. As leaders, we should always be identifying and growing the team members who want to move to the next round in their careers. 

    [bctt tweet="Most of us have moved into leadership, after being highly successful individual contributors and supervisors. As leaders, we must find more value from the task, result, or project we helped someone else achieve. @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

    Tip #5: Stay fresh on the job

    At all levels of my career, I’ve found the best way to build trust with a team is to help them solve a problem. The more you understand your team’s job function, the more able you will be able to help them solve problems, innovate, and provide feedback to improve the function of their performance. 

    • Stay fresh. I find the best way to do this is to jump in and help execute from time to time. So, write a blog post or create the tactical plan. This keeps you from getting rusty, but also helps you empathize with your team and the challenges within their roles. 
    • Ask questions. Sometimes you won’t understand the details of what they’re working on, particularly if you’re leading a cross functional team. But ask questions. Help them look at the problem critically, and it’s likely you’ll guide them to their own answer. 

    Tip #6: Be the leader

    One of the toughest transitions from individual contributor to leader, is owning your role as the leader. For the first few years that I was managing a small team, I was more likely to be found deep in the weeds, doing the tasks I did in my previous job titles, than actually doing my work as a leader.

    There were a couple reasons for this. It was comfortable doing the work; I already knew how to do it and I was good at. I also felt like I was most helpful to my team if I was helping them get the work done by actually doing the work. 

    This was not true. See tip No. 3. You (and I) are most helpful to your team when you’re solving systematic problems, optimizing workflow and production, and creating a happy and secure work environment. If you’re always in the weeds, all you can see is the weeds. 

    [bctt tweet="You're most helpful to your team when you’re solving systematic problems, optimizing workflow and production, and creating a happy and secure work environment. @Alexis5484 on being a #marketing leader" username="toprank"]

    Tip #7: Keep learning

    The leaders I am most inspired by inside and outside of my organization are probably the most voracious learners. Continuous learning through a variety of mediums will help you continue to evolve your skill set, bring in fresh ideas, and help you be inspired to test something new. Here are a couple of the resources that I go to:

    • Read: HBR is a go to for great content on how to lead, manage and shape a business. 
    • Listen: Dear HBR has a great Q&A format about navigating workplace challenges. 
    • Attend: Industry events are great for providing outside perspective, networking with other leaders and inspiring the evolution of your tactics. MarketingProfs is a great event for marketers.

    Take Your Place at the Leadership Table

    Each stage of your career offers a unique set of challenges and opportunities. The way in which you handle those situations—tackling them head-on or leaving them for someone else—has the potential to make or break your success in that position… and the one that may or may not come after. Keep these pieces of advice in mind as you work to build your team, your organization, and career as a leader.

    Looking for more tips on how to inspire, motivate, and build a more effective marketing team? Check out our tips for getting your marketing team to work better together.

    The post Tales from the Trenches: How to Transition from Marketing Doer to Marketing Leader appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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