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5 Signs of a Bad Social Media Agency

If you’re taking your social media presence seriously, then chances are you have an agency involved in your activity. This might range from them looking after your community and managing your content, or to running your social advertising campaigns. But, how do you know that your agency is doing not just a decent job, but a great job?

1: Engagement Levels

The engagement level of your Facebook page or Twitter profile is hugely important. Whilst it gives an indication on content relevance and consumption, on Facebook it directly affects reach levels.

If your social media agency is not focused on your engagement rate then you may have a problem. The key is to set engagement targets to aim for continual improvement. The use of data can help with firstly measuring this metric, but also with content optimization in order to see that continual improvement.

2: Page Growth

Facebook page growth is something that doesn’t come naturally anymore. However, if you are creating great content and distributing it effectively, then page growth will happen, even if you’re not running a bespoke fan growth campaign.

If your Facebook page is completely stagnant, it’s a sign that your agency isn’t doing their job properly. If strong content is being created it should be distributed with some paid post boosting in News Feed to relevant audiences. If this targets the right people, then this naturally leads to increased engagement and growth in fans on the page.

3: Ad Hoc Content

One clear sign that your social media agency isn’t up to scratch is when your content starts to become ad hoc and disjointed. Your social content across all channels should be based on strategy, and be scheduled and planned out in advance. This allows you to ensure that the full spectrum of your audience is fairly served, and that your content is of a higher quality as it is thought through.

However, many agencies simply think of and create content on the fly. This leads to an uncoordinated approach that lacks clarity, and can lead users to be unsure of the message you are trying to portray.

Ask to see your content calendar, and get involved in its creation. After all, you know your brand best and therefore need to have an input.

4: Advertising Targeting

Many Facebook ads are poorly targeted. Ask to see who your agency is targeting for your brand at regular intervals. Data, rather then opinion should inform these targeting sets. However, many agencies target too simply to get a broader reach. This leads to lots of wasted impressions, and ultimately wasted ad budgets.

Your advertising can be targeted in multiple ways across the different platforms, so make sure that you have an understanding of what is possible so that you can have an input with your agency when it comes to selecting targets.

5: Reporting

The fifth sign of a bad agency is unclear and dishonest reporting. Make sure that your agency is showing you everything you need to know to judge performance accurately.

I’d recommend agreeing a reporting template before commencement of work to lay out your expectations in what you want to see. A bad agency will chop and change the metrics they present in order to hide declines, so by setting an expectation you can mitigate this risk.


Unfortunately, there are still a lot of cowboy agencies out there. Judging quality can be hard, as agencies can often be very ragged behind the scenes with junior staff actually managing your campaigns, and hiding behind slick sales people.  However, watching for these 5 signs can help you identify a bad social media agency quickly to allow you to move on and get a better service elsewhere.

Join The Conversation

  • danmag's picture
    Aug 14 Posted 2 years ago danmag

    Great article Ben, alot of agencies can sell their services but can't really deliver across most platforms and because the clients are leaving it to the "experts" they don't actually know what they should be getting in return.

  • Ross Richendrfer's picture
    Aug 13 Posted 2 years ago Ross Richendrfer

    Having some level of subject-matter competence is key from a social media/PR agency as well. If you only need an agency to conduct tactical execution, then that's one thing. But I recommend you have higher expectations from your agency. Look for a team that has strategic chops and a demonstrated ability to do more than just post and measure. If an agency truly understands your business they should be able to make the in-campaign tactical adjustments that increase resonance and ultimately ROI. Having a bit of subject-matter expertise also does wonders for an agency's ability to help you control and contain the reactive issues that invariably pop up during the course of social media activity.

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