“I tell people to ask the prospective agency to show the agency’s social media presence. Ask about such things as blogs, Twitter feeds, YouTube videos, Web site(s), Facebook profiles, and any other stuff you have.”
I think this is a valid point and it is something that as an emarketing agency we feel is key. Most of our team have personal blogs, twitter accounts, and we are active in various forums and online channels. I wrote about this in a previous post as this constant experimentation is part of our philosophy which we call ‘living the web’. Understanding and having first hand experience of these channel is critical to be able to guide clients in these projects. We often use our learning from our direct experience with platforms like wordpress (for blogs) or ning (a free platform to build your own social network) and we translate this to our client needs (as we did with a packaging company called SCA Packaging as part of an online design contest).
However I would disagree with David when he says that this is ‘the one question’ you need to ask. I would say that you also need to look at two other key factors in selecting your agency:
1) What is the depth of experience that this agency has (how long have they been working in this field with the type of client you represents). There is nothing worse then choosing a recently converted ad agency that is trying to reinvent itself for the web. They might have a nice blog, some cool videos, but what they really need is years of experience working on web projects with real companies, in the real world.
2) Project management skills. The hardest part of our work in communication, be it online or offline, is to translate a strategy into a concrete and effective campaign. This requires more than great ideas and passion about technology. This requires the ability to manage projects, to hit deadlines, to align different skills in different organisations to reach a common goal.
So my suggestion for selecting your agency would be that there are three questions to ask:
1) What’s your experience (years and clients) in social media/web communication?
2) Do you walk your talk (show me what you do as an agency and what your team does in this space)?
3) Can you make things happen (show me what you did)?