There are a number of reasons why you would do well to outsource your business Twitter account to a specialist social media agency rather than to a PR or marketing agency – but how do you know how proficient the social media handling will be? This blog provides you with some useful questions to consider during your selection process. The key is to do your homework before you entrust anyone to showcase your business to the worldwide social web.

There is a growing number of marketing and PR agencies who claim to be experts in social media, and yet their own social channels are poorly run and show little sign of growth and engagement. Many marketing agencies classify themselves as ‘integrated’ agencies, covering the broad marketing and advertising spectrum, but in our experience, the deep hybrid expertise needed for social media is often missing in these organisations. One of our clients is a marketing agency, and they acknowledge their own limitations in social media skills. The interesting element is that despite this deficiency, they will still take new clients on as an integrated package – which includes social media. The agency we represent is not alone in this – which tells us all a clear story.

First and foremost, we strongly recommend that when you choose an agency to manage your social media, you use the social feeds of that company as a useful benchmark. Check what channels they’re on, check how many followers they have and what growth rate they have, and check how much engagement they receive. If they can’t create a thriving and engaging presence for themselves on social media, then how on earth can they be effective for your company? If you hear your marketing agency explain how your social media channel management will be bundled together with a larger marketing programme, it’s a warning sign. Social media requires specialist expertise to stop you looking like a clone of that marketing company, slightly impotent, unengaging, and perhaps worse still. As obvious as it may sound, they need to make you look successful and professional or your credibility will take a nosedive.

So let’s be more specific and explore what exactly you should be looking for in a social agency if you’re looking to outsource management of your social media. The following questions will all need answering, whether via light online investigation or outright interrogation under harsh spotlight.

Can they command growth themselves?

We recommend the company you choose has at least seven thousand followers on Twitter, preferably more.

Are they genuinely keeping it real?

Check that these followers are real, because (as explained in a previous blog), false followers are easy to buy and can result in unprecedented damage to your reputation and Google ranking. There are free tools such as you can use to quickly check the authenticity of another’s followers, seeing how many are fake. We’ve grown many of our client Twitter accounts north of ten thousand followers, and we do it quickly owing to in-house software targetting tools we’ve developed. A couple of thousand followers just won’t do and we suggest you run a free follower audit on an agency before even talking to them.

Are they regular?

We’re not drawing parallels with your daily ablutions, but it’s true, it’s important to be regular! It’s well established that tweeting multiple times daily is ‘optimum’, and if an agency doesn’t recognise this themselves, then we’d advise against you entrusting them with your business. If the agency doesn’t believe in, or isn’t knowledgeable about optimum postings (times of day, quantity of tweets), then look elsewhere. Google now crawls social media feeds and helps with ranking, authenticity, and trust. Ask to see growth rates of their client accounts.

Are they obsessive about accuracy?

Spelling errors, grammatical errors, tone of voice discrepancies or duplicate postings on an agency’s own Twitter feed are unacceptable. You need to ensure that your social management agency will positively represent the quality of your business via style, tone, accuracy and unfailing attention to the small stuff. How well are THEY representing themselves as a quality business? Steer away from working with organisations that fail on quality control – it talks to a broader question of quality and management of processes. If you see warning signs in the shape of poor spelling, grammar or general sloth, then sprint like Usain Bolt away from their offices.

Do they understand Twitter protocols? (i.e how to use a hashtag)

One of our clients left another social media agency to come to us, and we witnessed terrible mind-scarring scenes of hashtag misuse on their Twitter feed. Our first job involved multiple deletions of #Star #Wars rather than #StarWars and #business #travel instead of #businessTravel ad nauseum. OK granted – these are first world atrocities – but if your management agency doesn’t know how to use the most elementary resources on Twitter, then walk. They’ll make you look naïve and unprofessional.

Do they know what platforms you need? (and DON’T need)

Make sure they understand the benefits of choosing the right social channels for you. If they’re represented on Facebook and have a single post on Instagram, we’d question their general credibility. Why would they be as a B2B business? They’re certainly not going to exemplify their skills through engagement if that’s their intention, and they need to consider return on investment just like any other business. Generally, Twitter and LinkedIn are useful for B2B businesses, and Facebook and others such as Instagram are useful for B2C businesses. But this isn’t always the case, and a social media agency should be able to justify which channels should be attended to.

Have they discussed your ROI and business strategy with you?

Social media isn’t a trophy channel and you shouldn’t select an agency that doesn’t understand return on investment – even if the return isn’t directly monetary and comes in the form of credibility, quality or heightened visibility. An agency needs to understand the strategy and goals of your company to determine not only what social channels are suitable but how best to use them in order to align with your long-term and short-term business goals.

Thanksocial’s team comprises a hybrid of professional writers and social media authorities who have deep expertise in the social network space. We’re also experts in expediting relevant growth and have developed in-house engagement technology tools that allow your social activities to snowball forwards 24/7.