The traction that social media has gained in recent years is living proof that you always need to be 5 steps ahead of the Marketing game. Who knew that Facebook would suddenly be our way of being informed about the latest trends. Who would have thought that a 1080px by 1080px would turn the life that you knew, around? You thought you hate seafood? Guess what, suddenly you do not. All because someone shared their reaction to the lobster roll they just had.
This is when external help comes in the form of an influencer marketing agency. Made entirely accessible even to the smallest of businesses who have an absent Marketing Team, they are your eyes, ears, right brain, hands and limbs. Every one of them you meet will promise you the moon and stars. BUT. (A huge but) Who to say “till our contract do us part” to? How can we differentiate the one night stands from partner material? A sharp mind and these 6 evaluation criteria should do the trick in selecting your one true social influencer marketing agency (at least for the year).
An influencer is the Brand’s extension. The same should apply to the potential agency. Who they are in a working relationship with, will give you a rough idea if they might run your brand as a commodity or as an exclusive experience. There is no better or worse. It all boils down to how the brand / business in question wishes to be represented and of course, the target audience. If they work solely with micro-influencers, it could mean excellent news because your content messaging will likely reach the right audience and convert them. It will likely justify the fee the agency charges.
<READ MORE ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF MICRO-INFLUENCERS HERE>
It also helps if you understand what sort of content appeals to your target audience. Even if you are unsure, a good social influencer agency should be able to advise you with practical results on what could potentially work.
Many will tell you that the experience of the agency is definitive. No. Just because Agency X has 15 years of experience and has worked with major Brands does not automatically mean they are better than Agency Y, which has only been in the industry for 1 year with a selected client portfolio. The type of projects undertaken matters here. Agency Y might have 1 year of experience but have done some radical online campaigns that brought massive organic performance returns for a used-to-be-unknown ground-up brand. Experience should be indicative, not definitive.
Bear in mind, big Brand’s usually have their set of guides and require specific ways of doing things. Think about it, when was the last time SKII did something radical in their social media campaigns? Consider what you want to achieve with the assistance of the social media agency.
We only share the best bits of ourselves on social media platforms. The same applies to every social influencer marketing agency. Their portfolio will consist of flashy projects and success stories. And that is normal. Arrange for a coffee date or let them take you out for one. This 1-hour time investment can make your life with them easy. Ask them for their big picture approach to their strategies. Learn about their selection criteria for suitable influencers. Make it a point to talk about the boring things such as reporting schedules and preferred presentation style. A reliable social influencer agency will have you feeling assured. If the meeting ended with you feeling confused or having questions unanswered, run.
Lastly, be human. Ask about their working culture and respect it.
AKA. Optimisation. Influencer campaigns are one of the most volatile strategies in the book of Marketing. They function on a set of sensitive variables that can change its mind within a blink of an eye. Yet, they are so effective that they could make or break a brand. There is no 1 way to maximize profits. Same with every content that is produced. It is important to monitor, optimise to breathe in fresh opportunities on content for maximum capitalisation. There is one way to know the answer. ASK what is their optimisation strategy.
Marketers are masters when it comes to influencing you to keep them in your top-of-mind awareness. This is the time to go behind their backs and speak to brands and businesses that they have crossed professional paths with. Listen to their actual experience. This could come in the form of online testimonials left by them, reviews on 3rd party sites (even employees’ reviews on Glassdoor could give you a glimpse into the skeletons in their closet), or you simply calling / emailing the business and connecting with someone who had direct experience with the agency.
A tale as old as time, agencies fall out with clients because expectations are not well-defined. It is a hard topic to discuss, but necessary to lay it all out. This is not the time to be wishy-washy. Be clear about the goals you need to meet and make sure your Account Manager understands this. You have a business to run, targets to meet and a brand image to maintain. They too have deliverables. Time is precious and if either of you is toxic for another, end it.
Navigating the waters of influencer marketing is not difficult, but tricky. It is important that you connect with a social influencer marketing agency that is known to create the sort of campaigns you have in mind. Just like how you do not go to a pizza place and blame them for not serving a wide selection of pasta, you do not fault a social media influencer agency for not working with a big pool of on-screen celebrities.