How many times have you been duped by pseudo-social-media agencies whose promises were too good to be true?
Plenty of times, I suppose.
They must’ve made big promises in their sales proposal, throwing around terms like CPA, Relevance Score, Facebook Pixel, Retargeting, Custom Audiences, Lead Generation, and so on.
I’m sure, these technical marketing terms must’ve bowled you over.
In fact, it’s natural to feel positively overwhelmed when an agency uses such terms.
You’ll start to trust their capabilities (masked as promises), because “they know what they’re doing.”
But when it comes to execution, all they do is - run page like ads, boost posts and boast about reach.
What about all those fancy terms?
Disappeared in thin air… 💨
And here you are, dreaming about a kick-ass social media marketing strategy that would have elevated your brand’s online presence.
Well, it’s too bad that most agencies claim to “do social media”, but when it comes to understanding your objectives and target audience, their promises fall flat.
You see, social media isn’t something a kid out of college can do.
What he/she does is more of community engagement and uploading content.
There’s more to social media than just that.
A well-executed social media strategy can completely transform the image of your brand and create a fanbase of loyal followers.
Social media marketing cannot be implemented by simply reading about it or just knowing the theoretical aspects of it.
The right implementation and execution requires specialized expertise, with an eye for design and analytical abilities.
It’s crucial to create a social media strategy that aligns with your objectives and overall digital marketing vision.
That’s why, choosing the right social media agency in Dubai can be a task, especially when you need to gauge their capabilities from the limited information you have about them.
So, if you haven’t worked with a social media agency yet, this blog article is going to be your savior.
Consider this guide as the fool-proof checklist to filter out the most suitable social media agency for your business.
Every question in the following section is applicable for all types of businesses, so make sure you hold yourself accountable for it during your agency search process.
How to Choose the Right Social Media Agency in Dubai?
Ask Yourself these 9 Questions:
1. Do they show eagerness to understand your business’ objectives?
The difference between a good social media agency and a mediocre one is - their curiosity to learn about your business objectives.
A capable social media agency would strive to know more about your business and goals.
Whereas, an incapable one would just offer you a generic, strategy-less, monthly package with a fixed retainer fee.
The takeaway here, is to hire an agency that attempts to know your exact objectives and designs a social media proposal that suits your requirements.
Give priority to social media companies that send you questionnaires and professional briefing forms because they mean business!
If you come across generic companies with a ready-made social media marketing “strategy”, take it as a warning sign and stay away from them.
2. Are they able to understand your brief during the pitching process?
Before you go to google and type “best social media agencies in dubai”, do a little homework to ease the agency-hunting process.
Prepare a professional social media brief to make work easier for both parties.
This way, it’s easier to jot down your objectives, aspirations, design style, comments, brand guidelines and so on.
Once you’ve created the brief, send it to the agency with an RFP (Request-For-Proposal, just FYI)
Give them a timeline to send you back a strategy + sales proposal.
Doing so will help the social media agency do a better job with creating a strategy.
Once the social media marketing company has sent you their proposal, ascertain whether or not they managed to understand your brief.
If a digital marketing agency fails to comprehend a crystal-clear brief and sends you a proposal with generic ideas, it’s a red flag.
If they fail to understand your business objectives before even signing a contract, how will they even create a decent strategy to lead you towards success?
There are 2 takeaways here:
- Create a professional, detailed social media brief to enlist your requirements; and
- Gauge the agency’s expertise by how well they understand your brief;
3. Do they have any demonstrable case studies?
Before you even pick up the phone to give the agency a call, check if they have any demonstrable experience with social media.
The most reputable digital marketing agencies create case studies to educate potential clients about their capabilities.
If an agency is shying away from displaying case studies on their website, something could be fishy.
They either don’t have any remarkable social media work, or they are just too lazy to create any.
There might be a few cases where some agencies don’t flaunt their case studies online. In such a situation, ask them for links of their clients.
So, make sure you go through their clients’ social accounts and case studies before reaching out to them.
If they falter here as well, then turn back and run away.
4. What KPIs and Social Media Metrics do they use for measuring social media growth?
No strategy is complete without measurable KPIs.
That’s why, your potential social media marketing partner must have a list of KPIs that they’ll measure.
Keep in mind, the KPIs they choose will be largely influenced by your brief.
So, the clearer you formulate your briefing document, the wiser their choice of KPIs will be.
These KPIs shall be set at the start of the contract and tracked month-by-month.
The performance and deliverability of the agency will be judged by their fulfillment of these KPIs.
To learn more about how to set KPIs for each stage of the customer’s journey, refer to the table below by Socioboard:
5. Do they have prior experience in your industry or a niche that you fall under?
Choosing an agency is somewhat similar to hiring a candidate.
Job applicants with proven experience in the said industry are always more preferable.
But many a times, the most suitable agency may not have the exact industry experience you're looking for.
In a case like this, check if they have proven expertise in businesses that are similar to yours or have the same business model.
For example, if you're a marketer in the financial services sector, your preference should be for agencies who've worked with currency exchange houses, financial products and so on.
Some social media agencies in Dubai may have specialty in a niche, making it quite feasible for you to sign up with them.
This specialty helps the social media team understand the highs and lows of your business, enabling them to create strategies that help you survive during the low months of the year.
But, bear in mind that their current clients aren't competing directly with your brand, because it'll result in dilution of strategies and copying of content ideas.
6. What’s their scope of work going to be?
Before you sign along the dotted line, get clarity on the scope of work - between you and the agency.
More often than not, companies choose agencies with "generic" social media management roles, thus blurring the line of responsibilities.
Hence, it's crucial for you to discuss all the aspects of the monthly deliverables in advance.
Only a few social media agencies in the UAE (including us), offer complete social media marketing solutions, as listed below:
- Strategy Creation
- Identification and Documentation of Target Audience
- Content Creation and Curation
- Graphic Designing for posts
- Copywriting (both in-image and post text)
- Brainstorming content ideas
- Scheduling posts
- Community Management (includes responding to messages and posts, moderating comments, etc)
- Filtering out spam content and blocking inappropriate users
- Online Reputation Management
- Social Media Advertising
- A/B Testing of Ads and Optimization
- Analytics and Monthly Reporting
- Recommendations for Improvement and Growth
As a business owner/marketing manager, it's your right to get the best value for your money.
That's why, make sure you get most of the above boxes ticked in the agreement to reduce the burden on your team.
It's also important to set expectations rightly at the beginning by mutually agreeing on contingency plans and unexpected emergencies.
You do not want to sign up with an agency that will give up on you at the wrong time.
7. How easy is it to communicate with them?
In most agencies, the social media manager is also the account manager.
These candidates are hired for their mixture of social media and interpersonal skills.
Don't work with companies that don't communicate with you regularly.
The secret sauce to an amicable client-agency relationship is constant communication and feedback.
Most of the time, social media agencies in Dubai get so focused on running campaigns and meeting deadlines, that they forget the most crucial element of a client-agency relationship:
I'm sure you would agree with the statistic given below (by What Clients Think 2017 Report)
That's why, work with a marketing agency whose account managers are always in touch with you, and keep updating you with out-of-the-box ideas for trending topics, content performance and suggestions for improvement.
Their team should respond to emails and calls within a reasonable time, instead of taking days to simply acknowledge your message.
The key takeaway here, is to prioritize agencies who value your business.
Apart from simply responding to emails and sending monthly reports, their team should ideally set-up regular meetings or Skype calls to communicate with you regularly.
8. Do they outsource their social media work to freelancers or abroad?
We're all aware of the sad reality of most social media marketing firms.
They outsource work to developing countries where "skilled social media managers" are cheap.
Since you get what you pay for, opting for such companies will reflect poorly on your online image.
You need a social media partner that elevates your position in the market and creates a robust image of your brand in the eyes of fans.
If you pay peanuts, you'll simply get a job done by monkeys.
An agency that's too cheap runs on underpaid staff with a poor work-life balance.
Don't be a contributor to the misery of those employees.
That's why, work with local agencies who charge a fair price in exchange for decent social media services.
Another reason to decline working with "middle-men" social media agencies is their lack of market knowledge.
Not only are they unfamiliar with the local landscape, they're not even well-versed with the nuances of communication in this region.
Their strategy and content will be generic, disengaging and not optimized for the local market.
If this isn't convincing enough, let me show you the reality of outsourcing social media services to unreliable sources abroad.
Following are a few screenshots from actual groups and forums where your account could be getting compromised with fake followers and video views.
If you're still considering outsourcing work to save a few hundreds of dirhams, think again.
Although these freelancers may "deliver" work in the short run, the negative image of your brand will be obvious over time.
And remember, it's not easy to regain the trust of your actual fans after such a pitfall.
9. Do they share their social media expertise in the form of blogs and other educational content?
In a world where Gary Vee and Neil Patel dominate the content marketing landscape, social media agencies are now expected to provide educational content on common marketing mistakes with solutions.
So, before you go ahead and sign up with them, find out if your shortlisted social media agencies create educational content.
This content can be of different types, such as:
- Case studies
- Social Media Statistics and Reports;
and so on.
Not only does this help them establish thought leadership and increase their website traffic, it also gives you, the client, a fair idea of their social media marketing ideology.
An agency that's hardly social on their media channels is a red flag for you.
Their lack of social media content strategy tells you a lot about how they'll deal with your account.
Since we believe in complete transparency, and the fact that we're a Hubspot-Silver partner agency, we love creating detailed content for you.
This not only helps you become more informed, but also helps you make better digital marketing decisions.
Just FYI, here's a screenshot of our blog.
You can click on the image below to browse our articles.
This article wasn't necessarily written with the objective of dissing low-performance social media agencies.
My objective here is to help you make better, and more-informed decisions about your marketing budget.
Finding a dream social media marketing company can be a task, because the market out there is filled with promises.
No matter who pitches to win your business, these 9 questions will help you set the bar high, resulting in a thorough and rigorous selection process.