• Alice Violet

5 questions to ask a social media consultant or agency in 2021

Being a social media consultant and running a social media agency in 2021 is incredible but sometimes incredibly frustrating. Strategic social media skills are a highly valuable and in-demand skillset - but can be somewhat tarnished by so many 'experts' offering get rich quick schemes, hacks or mediocre advice which don't translate or add value in a business environment.

With that in mind, when choosing a consultant or agency to partner with, make sure you do your research and ask the right questions.

Here are five of the key things to ask before deciding whether they're right for you and your business.

1. What brands have you worked with?

Not only do you need them to demonstrate a strong portfolio, but you'll also want to know they're proud to share it with you. Whenever I am approached by a potential client it's important that they match with my own values - not just that they'll pay my fee. I am a firm believer of quality over quantity to ensure the work I put out is something I am proud of. If there doesn't appear to be any quality in the accounts they're working on, it can indicate that they're solely in business to make maximum profit and not because they're passionate or knowledgeable about what they do.

2. Do you understand our demographic?

This is arguably the most important question because social media (like all marketing) needs to be tailored to your demographic. Many experts with hundreds of thousands of followers on their own accounts behave more like influencers than consultants or business owners. Influencers are an incredibly valuable slice of the social media pie, but there is a huge difference between being an Instagram influencer and a well-rounded social media expert. Although having a large personal social media presence is an indication of their abilities, ask to see some of the businesses they've worked with too.

I personally specialise in luxury and sustainable b2c brands and technical b2b audiences. These are both educated, intelligent audiences who expect high-quality content. To educate, engage and influence this demographic you must understand them.

3. How do you determine your fee?

Lots of consultants and agencies base their contracts around x amount of posts to x amount of channels. Although this does give you a business presence it's not a strategic way of working. The reason many agencies do this is to maximise profitability, they can work out how many hours that takes, and hire more or fewer people to accommodate the number of posts and channels. This approach shows a lack of understanding when it comes to the complex and demanding social landscape beyond the writing and scheduling of posts.

Another issue with this approach is that it encourages the client (you) to focus on the less technical visible output and not strategy or expertise. Performance calls and content planning will likely revolve around the number of posts to be made and not around the audience, ROI, KPI's or goals.

My fee is entirely tailored around my expertise, experience and the elements I am offering. E.g. consultancy and paid advertising or full management including content creation.

4. How will we measure the success of our partnership?

A good social media consultant or agency will set KPI's and goals at the start of the contract and have regular performance calls to check-in and see whether these are being met. A social media partnership should always begin with a strategy, whether that's building one from scratch or elevating one you've already built. If you have a rolling contract with an agency and no new strategy is created you'll have no goals and aims to achieve over the next time period.

If the primary focus is vanity metrics such as follows and likes and not demographic it can also show a knowledge gap in the purpose of social media marketing.

5. How would you handle a crisis?

No matter what your brand is, you're not immune to a crisis on social media. The most likely type of crisis you'll encounter will be a disgruntled client or customer - but it's important these are dealt with appropriately. I have a system I like to use which allows openness and transparency while protecting your reputation. Less likely but still possible problems include a campaign backfiring or a member of staff being involved in a scandal. It's crucial to know that your consultant or agency will be a safety net if this happens.

What questions would you ask a social media consultant or agency before working with them?

I am a social media consultant with over ten years experience in paid and organic social media spanning technology and travel. I've worked with many of the world's leading luxury brands before becoming producer of an award-winning podcast at a global tech company. I launched Alice Violet Creative to help brands to increase leads and loyalty via social media. I firmly believe content, brand and social media are the most potent of all marketing avenues in 2021. To take your brand presence to the next level email me at info@alicevioletcreative.com.