Selecting a Social Media Agency

How to Write an Effective RFP for Selecting a Social Media Marketing Agency (from 451 Heat):

Our agency receives a decent number of requests for proposals (RFPs) each month for social media marketing campaigns and services. The RFPs we receive can vary greatly in length, scope, requirements, and style. Many of these requests are fairly comprehensive, while others are lacking.

What we have done below is take components from some of the best and most comprehensive RFPs that we have received in 2009 to help you build a comprehensive social media marketing RFP for selecting an agency for your organization. If there are components that you think would also be helpful, please feel free to add them to this list. Once we’ve gathered feedback, our team will put together a whitepaper, citing anyone who contributes to this post!

Here are what we believe to be the necessary components of an effective social media marketing RFP:

Background Information/Summary – These sections are primarily used to give agencies the “411” as to who you are, what other marketing activities you have going on (include your media mix), your objectives for using social media, and any necessary background information about your organization that potential partners may not find on your website.

Targets – Along with your background information, it is recommended that you define who your customers or prospects are. Many organizations have segmented target groups and those groups use a company’s product and/or services for many different reasons. The more information you can give about who you customers are, the reasons for using you (pain points), and what’s important to them – the better!

Competitors – Adding a section about your competitors is a great way for you to paint a picture about your competitive landscape. Even if a social media marketing agency does their necessary homework when preparing their proposal, this information may not be that apparent. An effective response to your RFP should consider the activities of others in your space. This is a way to help solicit more thoughtful responses from your prospective firms.

Goals for the Campaign – This section is a MUST. Often times, when we find that this section is not included in an RFP it’s because the organization supplying the document is not fully aware of why they should participate in a social media campaign (or possibly just the person writing the RFP). If at all possible, you should try to tie your goals to some sort of quantifiable metric. For example…

Our firm is looking to engage people on Twitter to find potential prospects in our space. We have set a goal of acquiring 450 new customers over the next 6 months.

One should remember that metrics can be tied to just about anything (e.g. referral traffic, downloads, demo signups, special offers, subscribers, fans, followers, events, etc.).

Process Timeline – It is important to let your prospective firms know when their responses are due. It is a common (and helpful) practice to also let them know when you will be conducting vendor interviews and an expected date for selecting a firm.

Scope – This is where you can separate an average firm from a great one. This section is more about you asking your prospective firms to detail how they are going to approach your campaign. This will ensure that you reach or surpass your stated campaign goals.

Questions that will help you make the best decision include the following:

  • Ask them to detail how they would go about identifying where your audience and “influencers” are online.
  • Ask them to explain in full detail what tactics they are proposing to help you reach your goals. This should include a strategy/action plan along with their tactics.
  • Ask them what types of information they would need and/or consider if they were hired prior to beginning the campaign.
  • Ask them to describe how they would measure each component of the social media campaign they are proposing, as well as the overall success of the social media campaign.
  • Ask them to them explain how this campaign may potentially integrate with your master marketing plan and larger media mix.
  • If your goals are tied to monetary or lead metrics, ask them to detail how they propose to convert a Twitter “follower” or a Facebook “fan” into a lead or a customer.

Bios – Ask the firms to include the project manager’s bio and those of any team members who will be working on your campaign. Specifically request their social media experience, tenure at the agency, and to list similar campaigns and clients that they have worked on.

Agency Background – Request general agency information from any submitting agency. This information should include core competencies, history, clients, and recognition.

Budget – We have never seen an RFP that doesn’t ask for agencies to detail fees and/or associated campaign cost, but we thought it never hurts to state the obvious!

Again, if we have missed anything above, please comment below and we will include you in the published paper!

AJ Gerritson, @ajgerritson

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