What to ask a social media agency/consultant?

Photo by  Nathan Dumlao  on  Unsplash

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

If you haven't spent time working in digital marketing or social media in the past couple of years, it's going to very difficult for you to tell the difference between agencies that are mediocre, good or even great. If you've decided to put some money into getting support in the social media space, you don't want to be throwing money away. We've put together a couple questions (and things to watch out for) that should help you decide among all the technical jargon.


What does your agency specialise in?

What to look out for: There are a lot of agencies out there, and most will say that they can do anything — social media, SEO, SEM/PPC, Influencer, web design, UX/UI, content creation, etc. — stay away from these! It’s impossible to specialise in everything (as much as they try), and even harder for these agencies to have the right people working on the right things. If you’re looking for help in social media, look for social media experts — don’t for example ask for help from a PR agency, because they just aren’t equipped (and up to date) to properly manage social media.

Who will be working on the account?

What to look out for: You want to make sure that your account is being taken care of. There are cases that agencies will send their best business development people to the pitch meetings, and these people will disappear once the account is won (and you’re left with clueless junior staff). In general, you want to have a account director/manager who will be your key day to day and depending on your project, have experts in creative, management, analytics that help out as needed (whether it’s managed in-house or external). The key here is to make sure that they have a plan for making sure you account is handled as agreed (and they’re not stealing your money!).

What’s the social media strategy going to be?

What to look out for: If they answer right away without learning about your business, run away! The social media agency you work with needs to understand your business problems and needs — where are you struggling? What has been done in the past? Where do you need help? What needs to be addressed first? What is the competition doing? How much money do you have available? These are just some of the basic questions that need to be addressed. Blanket approaches won’t work, and you need to work with people that can help you where you need help the most.

What are the latest social media trends? Who’s doing social media well?

What to look out for: Social media is a changing landscape, and you want to make sure that the people you work with 1) know what’s happening and 2) have an opinion on where things are going to go. By asking this question, you should be able to see whether the agency is able to think independently and help drive your business forward. There should be a clear differentiation here, otherwise you might as well just hire a fresh grad instead. You want to be told what to do, rather than have to tell the agency what to do (they are after all the expert).

What social media platforms should we be on?

What to look out for: Building on the last point, the agency you work with needs to be the expert. Understanding the landscape they should be able to tell you which platforms make the most sense (can help convert) rather than just what’s the most popular (far too many recommend the basics — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter because that’s where everyone is, and not explaining how they can help the business).

What are we going to do with data/analytics?

What to look out for: Agencies should be able to talk about how to use data, and just as importantly when to use data. While there is a huge allure as to what data can do, in many cases companies aren’t able to take advantage of data simple because they don’t have a lot of data to play with (they’re way too small). Look for a social media agency that can use data to inform decisions, but doesn’t blindly follow the numbers (difference between causation and correlation isn’t addressed enough).

Where should we spend our money?

What to look out for: Find a company that can smartly look at a landscape and portion money as needed. You want to stay away from companies that are just looking to maximise their billings, and work with agencies that understand that digital isn’t always necessarily the best way to go (depending on the industry, many can still see a lot of benefit from events or CRM).

Who are your competitors?

What to look out for: Honesty. There are hundreds of competing digital agencies and consultants out there. This is a test to see if they’re honest people and whether they will be easy to work with. You want to work with a team that isn’t afraid to talk about the hard truth, and not just people that are good at kissing your butt.


These are just some of the questions that you should be asking when deciding on a social media agency. There are obviously many other questions you should be asking, but with all things being equal, the answers to these questions should help you put one agency over another.

Should you be paying for Marketing Services?

https://www.fuandg.com/resources/

https://www.fuandg.com/resources/

Short answer - NO.

People are busy, and any are often looking for shortcuts. In the world of marketing, you can pay for help in literally anything you can think of - but that doesn't mean that you should!

There are a plethora of free tools that you can use to improve the marketing that you're doing. From SEO, to social media automation to reporting - as long as you're willing to look and learn, you can find tools that fit your needs. There are tools that you can buy to help you automate things, but using them doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to get better results.

A lot of people use tools because it gives off the appearance that they're doing something useful. It's honestly a lazy way for people to feel like they have accomplished something. In reality, most people never fully utilise the basic tools that are available for free (e.g. Facebook Insights).

Using tools are fine, but don't use them as a substitute for learning. I've gathered a plethora of free tools and resources you can use today right here.

More than a digital marketing agency - we're community builders

Photo by  Anthony DELANOIX  on  Unsplash

The more I talk to people about what we do, the more I wonder what it is exactly that we do.

In the last couple of months, we've clearly evolved. We're not just a digital marketing agency in Hong Kong anymore, we're so much more than that.

A digital marketing agency is typically one that does content creation, social media marketing, marketing strategy. The bigger ones will also touch on PR/outreach, influencer marketing, SEO/SEM and PPC, maybe even some design work. But we've moved in a different direction - we're starting to help companies find and place talent because that's what they're actually looking for (and we don't want to be the same as everyone else).

However, lately, we've realised that we're more than that. We're not really a digital marketing agency because of the way we approach things. Our job isn't about marketing companies and building an audience (sure we do that as well) - our CORE JOB is to build communities. We build communities and engage them for brands, we just happen to do it through the use of digital marketing (social media marketing, content creation, paid placements, etc.).

We exist to help connect brands with their desired audience. That's what we do, and that's what we do well. While other similar agencies in Hong Kong are trying to sell a service (and trying to grab every available dollar), we're trying to engage an audience in a way that creates true fans - fans that will stick with the brand over time (and continue to buy their products as they come out).

We're not just a digital marketing agency. We're community builders.

Hire full-time or hire an agency?

Photo by  Brooke Lark  on  Unsplash

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

This question doesn't get asked as much as I would like. It seem people automatically assume that hiring a marketing agency is expensive and hiring full-time marketing support is better. But is that really so? *HINT* NO.

Hiring full-time support makes sense when you know specifically what you want, and you need someone to take on only that specific role. For example, if you're an e-commerce platform and you need someone to manage SEO/SEM. However, what tends to happen is that companies hire a digital marketer and expects them to do EVERYTHING under the digital marketing umbrella - this includes social media, content creation, SEO/SEM/PPC, influencer outreach among many other things. Sure these people exist, but they're few and far between (and expensive!). In reality, most digital marketers are specialists in only one (if you're lucky two) of the categories.

On the other hand, with agencies you can tap into their resources. For the same price as hiring one digital marketer (we'll assume they're a social media manager), you can hire an agency that has resources across content creation, data analytics, etc. Most companies are small and don't need full-time help across all the different areas, so hiring an agency makes more sense.

In many cases hiring a full-time digital marketer means that this person is just there to manage all the different agencies that the company is using.

Deciding to hire between a digital marketing agency and a full-time digital marketer really depends on what stage your company is currently in. In most cases you can't go wrong with going with an agency (obviously biased), but like everything there are many different factors affecting the decision.

I spent a bit more time analysing the different situations, and you can read them on MEDIUM.

Wednesday Updates

Things we're thinking about this week:

It doesn't matter how creative you are, how innovative you are or how smart you are - all that really matters is whether you can execute. There's no value in just thinking, you have to do something (and often just start, letting it snowball along the way)

  • Want to start a company? Write a plan and start talking to people 
  • Want to learn about digital marketing? Look for some free courses around you and ask for some book recommendations
  • Want to learn to ride a bike? Rent one and find a friend who can teach you

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Differentiate or die - can't repeat this enough. Drives me insane that marketing agencies are all evolving to become identical (offering the exact same services - graphic design, SEO, SEM/PPC). Where's the differentiation? Why don't they practice what they preach? That's why we're staying away from the same old and branching out into recruitment (among other things in the works). Never settle for good enough - we're going to die by that.

You can do better than THAT in interviews

Photo by  Sam McGhee  on  Unsplash

Photo by Sam McGhee on Unsplash

When interviewers are lazy (and this happens a lot), they ask basic, simple questions. When this happens, the answers they get are usually straightforward, standard and worse of all provide no new information.

If you ask a digital marketer if they know SEO, the obvious answer is 'YES' - because why would they say 'NO'? However, with the 'YES', as the interviewer, you really don't get a lot of information. A better question would be 'How would you take on SEO if you were given 3 months?' With a question like this, there's no hiding that you don't know anything about SEO.

The key is to realise that if you can guess the answer to the question, it's not a very good question (it's a terrible question). Instead, you need to ask questions that cause the interviewee to pause and actually think about the answer. Otherwise, you learned nothing and you might as well have asked the same questions to a random stranger.

Read more on Medium here.