How (Some) Social Media Marketing Agencies Try to Screw You

If you are an entrepreneur whose business has reached a point where it makes sense to outsource your social media marketing, congratulations!

Delegating your business’s social media marketing is a wise decision if you need to free up some of your own time, or if you would rather someone with more expertise in the area takes over.Screw for Insta

But before you hand things over to a Marketing Agency, or a Media Company, or a Public Relations Agency, or a Social Media Ninja Dojo or whatever they might call themselves, make sure you know what you’re getting into.

It is the job of your agency to manage your expectations. What I mean is, not only should they deliver what they promise, but they should be promising to deliver things that matter. So how do you know if an agency has your company’s best interests at heart? Here are a few red flags to watch out for:

They guarantee “likes” and “followers.”

If an agency GUARANTEES they are going to get you a certain number of likes or followers, my spidey sense tells me they’re simply going to take a portion of the fees you pay them and purchase fake followers.

What’s so bad about that, you wonder? Having legions of un-engaged, fake followers not only doesn’t help your business, but it can actually do your social media presence more harm than good. On Facebook, for instance, having a high number of followers on an otherwise inactive page will HURT your reach.

They guarantee you’ll “go viral.”

Having a video or image or post go viral doesn’t just happen every day. Sometimes a video is dormant on YouTube for years, for example, and then one day an influencer or celebrity will discover it and BOOM you’re viral all of a sudden.

But more importantly, if an agency is obsessed with getting things to go viral, it’s a warning sign that their head isn’t in the right place. You shouldn’t worry too much about going viral. Going viral is nice, but reaching the right audience, no matter how small, is more important. We hear about videos and images going viral all the time but do they change ideas? Do they sell product? Do they achieve the mission they set out to achieve? Do they even have a mission?

I have the perfect formula for making a video go viral. Here it is: Kittens plus Kardashians. I’m pretty sure a cute kitten video with a popular celebrity will go viral but will it sell your service? Will it raise your credibility? Will it attract the audience that will help you grow your business?

Bottom line, if your agency doesn’t tell you that it’s more important that your message reach the correct target market, as opposed to reaching the bored masses, then they don’t understand the first thing about branding and marketing and they shouldn’t be handling your business.

They bill by time

Traditional PR and marketing agencies bill by the hour, just like lawyers! Some agencies (not all of them) still operate this way.

That means every phone call, every meme design, every post, every response to a client on Instagram racks up minutes on your bill. Yes, you can put a cap on this time. But that’s not the point.

The point is that instead of being task -focused, your agency is simply clocking minutes. If you call them on this, they will likely tell you they will get a Junior Marketing Associate, or PR Coordinator, or Ninja Minion to handle the less strategic aspects of your social media campaign, such as physically uploading images and pre-approved written captions to Instagram.

Make sure you know exactly which tasks are being delegated to whom. Many companies – even huge ones with tons of money for marketing – have been torn apart on social media just because someone less than qualified said the wrong thing to the wrong irate customer on Twitter or Facebook.


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  1. Tony Aziz on November 24, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    Love it.

    Tony Aziz Vantage Business Leadership

    Sent from my mobile device.


  2. Nishi on November 25, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    Thank you, Sensai!