Last week I published A Digital Marketing Primer for C.E.O.s Part I because C.E.O.s themselves must grasp the fundamentals of digital before they’re able to make wise digital marketing choices.  Companies on the losing side of digital who’ve recently assigned budget dollars to social media are under great pressure to claim some online territory.  C.E.O.s want to see their companies build both quality connections and brand advocates.  Yet, catching up to one’s competition takes months of time, precious budget dollars, and real skill.  Referrals from old media friends (who have no real digital presence of their own) are no longer useful.  With dollars, time, and even jobs at stake the answer to the burning question, “How do I vet a digital marketing agency?” is explored here.  Special Note:  Social media, content creation, design and SEO are inexorably linked and part of a good pull marketing strategy. All are under the digital marketing umbrella.

How do I vet a social media or digital marketing agency?

1. Search for them (online) using industry and geographic specific keywords. If they don’t show up on free search (unpaid search links) then your product/company won’t show up either.

2. Read their blog which should be filled with comments and replies.  Blogging is the heart and soul of social media. Run their blog through Blog Grader to check their grade and traffic score.  No blog?? No traffic?  No comments? No responses? No community? Blog not found in search? Move on.

3. Don’t assume they participate appropriately in social media. Instead, find out which social media platforms they participate in and evaluate what they’re doing.  Ask, are they building a community? Are they interacting with others? Do they understand reputation management? Are they responsive? Remember, social media marketing is about creating a community and inspiring that community to share your brand. Look for concrete evidence.

4.  Do a creativity check. Read their content and ask: “Is it creative?” “Is it educational?” “Is it inspiring?” “Does it show up in search?”

5.  Do a construction check. Do they use RSS? Is it easy for others to comment and share their posts on other social platforms?

6.  Find out how they use analytics and ask which analytics tools they prefer. Do they use them to evaluate and refine your campaign?  How often? Do they share your analytics with you? In what format? How often?

7.  Ask to see an SEO success story. They should have at least one client who ranks very well in Google’s natural search. Then, do a little legwork and search for this company on Google yourself.

8.  Listen to the questions they ask you. One size doesn’t fit all so they should be asking you what a successful social media campaign looks like to YOU.  They should ask you about your goals and be able to show you how success is determined and measured throughout your campaign. Expect to hear questions about your customers and your current social resources.

9.  If you’re considering a big agency, then vet the junior level staff person who will do your work. Ask this person to share his/her personal brand.  Check out her/his blog, social media accounts, and community.  Go through steps 1 – 8 above.

Many of my esteemed readers are competent digital marketers and I invite each of them to add to my list in the comments area below.  To contact oz 2 designs LLC about digital marketing for your company, email cl@oz2designs.com. Keep an eye out for upcoming post, ” A Digital Marketing Primer for C.E.O.s part III (Sherryl you were right – LOL !) which answers the question, “What should I expect to pay a social media agency?”