I’m not going to sugarcoat this.  Entering a contract with a social media marketing agency can be somewhat terrifying for business owners, marketing directors, or whoever is the lucky person sticking their neck out to bring on the selected firm.  Trusting your baby in the hands of an agency should not be without plenty of thought, a jittery stomach, and a hefty grilling of the owners of the social firm.

What saddens and frustrates me most is that while so many people are excited to work with social agencies, few can distinguish what is sexy and what is a shit sandwich.  This needs to change.

Listen, there are many agencies and consultants out there who can kick it hard for you, but there are just as many who either won’t be right for you or quite honestly, are faking it and are less than piss poor.

Less than.

Here are 15 questions to help you select the right social media marketing agency for your company:

1.  What distinguishes you from other social agencies?  The agencies that win business will know this answer right away.  They will have a process, a system, or a unique service that is valuable to your company.

2.  How many employees does your agency have?  You don’t want to work with an agency that has just a few people.  You’re looking for a football team, not a golfer and caddy in your social huddle.  Social is hands on and a social team must be relentless.  The 1 or 2 person teams won’t be able to handle your work load as they gain more clients.

Sorry Tiger, you just won't work out.

3.  How can I be sure you’ll capture the voice of our brand?  The social agency you choose needs to sound exactly like you.  Do you want to be edgy?  Do you want to be comedic?  The answer you shouldn’t get here is, “We’re very creative” or “We’ll figure it out”.  Great agencies will have a plan in place and will focus on this before the contract begins.

4.  How fast are you to respond to comments and questions on our social channels?  If the answer is any longer than 24 hours, then stop all questions and move to the next agency.

5.  Can I see an example of your analytics reports?  How often do I receive them? If they can’t provide an example for you, then they probably just don’t have any to share.  That’s bad news.

6.  Where is your office located?  Can I come for a meeting?  Virtual is great and all, but you don’t want your social agency working out of Starbucks.  You’ll be amazed at how much smoother the process is when your hired marketing firm works out of an office.

We'll pass.

7.  How will your social agency optimize my social sales funnel?  They should be able to explain to you each step of the process, from how they’ll grow your funnel to how the social strategy will lead to customers.

8.  When will I start to see a return on my investment? Smart agencies will know that it can take some time to get things moving in the right direction.  Look for them to say around 60-90 days.

9.  What happens if we receive negative and potentially harmful comments on our social channels? Each business is a little different, but you’ll want them to know whether to publicly respond or to remove and ban the user.  Different situations call for different solutions in this area.

10.  Can you provide customer testimonials or references? They should be able to give you 3-5 of their clients to call.

11.  Do you have a community recruitment strategy for my company?  How will you grow our channels?  If they can’t tell you right away, give them a day or so.  An experienced agency will quickly have ideas on how to find your target market and attract them to join your communities.

12.  How will the agency monitor social channels and the web for mentions of our company and relevant social conversations? They should be able to tell you that they own a number of monitoring tools for their team to quickly scan and take action on mentions and keywords relating to your business.

Someone should always be on the lookout

13.  Do you use a social dashboard? If they don’t know what you’re talking about, then I need you to run.  Very far away.

14.  How much information will you need from me in the first 30 days?  60 days?  90 days? Almost always the first 30 days includes a ton of hand holding.  Once a social media marketing agency understands their client, their community, and the products offered, there is far less back and forth in emails, phone calls, and texts.

15.  What happens if we don’t feel your social agency is successful after a reasonable amount of time?  You don’t want to be locked into a contract for a year.  Work with a social agency that is confident in their services and offeres a termination of contract whenever either party decides to break it.  Make sure to ask about client retention rates.


There you have it!  Go ahead and print these out and highlight 7-10 for your next conversation with a social agency. Oh, and feel free to let us know in the comments if there are other must-ask questions that we’re forgetting.