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Social Media Week: Do you need an agency for social media? – six key points to keep in mind

If businesses need agencies to handle their social media, and what the agencies should be doing were issues discussed at RAR’s ‘Snake oil salesman or guru?’ Social Media Week talk yesterday, held at STV.

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The speakers were Kirsty Bell, research and insight manager at Yomego; Steve Downes, managing director at Juice Digital; Iain McNeill, strategy director at Line; Murray Calder, board director at Mediacom; Joe Hughes digital marketing manager at Morrison Bowmore; and Gill Petrie, multi-platform marketing manager at STV.

Point one: It is important to have internal resources on social media, although it is also important to engage with external knowledge as well. Social media takes a lot of work so outsourcing parts can be helpful, and it makes sense to get the agency to help develop skills.

Point two: When choosing an agency, you should choose one who has worked in similar fields, for example, a distillery should first look at agencies which have worked on the social media for other drinks companies first – although some companies do not like to use same agencies as direct competitors.

Point three: Make sure you meet who will be doing the social media for the company. Most of the time it is the experienced pitch team that is met, and not the person who will actually be handling the job. Too many agencies say they do social media and it is just the intern handling it.

Point four: Find out what the agency has actually done, like you would for advertising or any other agency. Ask for examples of how they would integrate social media with other marketing: you want all the agencies you employ to be able to work together.

Point five: If the agency doesn’t mention return of investment within the first five or ten minutes of a pitch…run away. If they talk about number of Facebook users or Twitter followers then run away even faster.

Point six: If an agency agrees with absolutely everything you say then fire them: your agency should push you and tell you if what you want is impossible or not a good strategy, for example, if a company says it wants a million Facebook followers and don’t care about who these followers are, the agency should speak up.