So your company needs a new social media agency. You just hit Google and choose the best one, right?

Easy. Done. Viral posts commence!

Well, not so fast. First of all, this blog was written by someone at a social media agency. Which means that like a lot of the articles and content online, it’s biased. While we of course would love for more brands to hire us, we also have limited bandwidth and know we’re not a fit for every company out there. For the sake of argument, let’s assume you aren’t going to select Bandolier Media as your next social media agency, despite our expertise and creativity (sorry, had to get that in there).

6 Things To Consider When Choosing A Social Media Agency

1. Check Their Engagement.

Don’t just look at the work on their agency website. Go to their clients’ social channels and see how audiences are responding to their posts in real time. Are they getting good engagement? Consider the size of the page’s audience when looking at engagement. For example, if a brand has 300,000 followers but is only getting 10 likes a post on Facebook, is that good? Probably not.

2. Ask About Boosts.

The second element of engagement is boosts. If every post in the world was amazing, viral content, then nobody would have to spend a penny to get their posts in front of their audience. That’s not the world we live in. Boosting is necessary. However, the key is the efficiency of the boosts. Are the posts being targeted to the right audience, and what is being spent? Ask. Don’t be shy. Show the agency a client post with 500 likes and ask what they spent to get that engagement. If they don’t want to tell you, fine. Ask for some benchmarks and what your brand might expect?

Make sure your vision lines up with a potential agency’s strengths.

3. What Kind Of Content Does Your Brand Need?

Just like every brand has certain attributes, every agency does, too. Some are great at capturing lifestyle photography. Others are more steeped in design. Some are strong in the video world. If you know the kind of content you’re looking for, then make sure your vision lines up with a potential agency’s strengths. If you don’t know what’s best for your brand, then ask for various types of content examples to make sure the agency is versatile enough to deliver whatever kind of content you end up landing on (after you work with them on the strategy front). Beware of any agency that says they’re “great at all kinds of content.” That’s usually not true. Know what platforms (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) that are important to you.

4. Budget Matters.

This one is a bit obvious, but requires mentioning. Think of your budget as the total monthly spend, including the boosts required to deliver quality engagement and growth on each of your platforms. What good is it if you can afford the content, but there’s no money left for boost?

5. Scope. Scope. And…Scope.

What are you hiring a social media agency to do for you? Well, that depends on your internal resources. If you have an employee who handles posting and community management, then you might just need creative services. If you’re looking for an agency to run every aspect of your social media, that’s a different ask entirely. Think of who is best suited for each role. On the community management front, you may want an internal person responding to posts and questions if your product is extremely technical or complicated (or sensitive in terms of customer confidentiality).

6. Have Goals.

It sounds simple, but you need to have some objectives. Are you trying to sell products or services? Does your board of directors simply want to see 100,000 fans on Facebook? Is audience engagement the KPI? What about influencers — how will they play into the mix? Different goals result in different strategies. Your agency will be in the best position to succeed if you align on goals.

Different goals result in different strategies.

At the end of the day, the key is to do some serious thinking before you even engage an agency. Know what you want to spend. Know (or at least have a general idea) of the kind o content you want to put out into the world. And be realistic. Even the best content can sometimes struggle to find an audience every single time out. The goal is to find the right creative partner who can consistently deliver quality, on-brand content that propels your company forward.

Oh, and here’s a bonus one: Find people you like. Life is too short to work with jerks.