Social Media RFP: Best Practices and a Free Template
A good social media RFP will have digital marketing agencies practically fighting each other to work for you.
It’ll also help your business fully understand the value of your social media platforms—and how they can drive results.
The best part? Crafting a winning social media RFP can be simple and even a little fun. By just following a few simple best practices, you can create a proposal that’ll get you the best agency for your needs.
That’s why we want to guide you through the process of creating a fantastic social media RFP. To do that, we need to start with answering one question: What the heck is a social media RFP anyway?
What is a social media RFP?
RFP stands for “request for proposal”—and at its core, that’s all it is. A document you send out to agencies asking for their work.
However, a good social media RFP acts as a conduit for the agencies you want to work with. It provides them with all they need to know to give you thorough proposals to help address your needs.
With a good social media RFP you’ll be able to shop around and collect offers from different agencies. Once you do, you’ll be able to pick the one that best meets your needs and criteria—all while staying in budget.
That said, they’re easy to screw up. In fact, many companies sink their chances of getting good agency work that aligns with their needs by not following the Golden Rule of RFPs: Make it attractive to the vendor.
Sure, you’re the one with the budget. Why wouldn’t people want to work with you? But you have to remember that marketing agencies are the ones who will actually be doing the work. As such, they’re going to be much less inclined to work with you if you don’t sell them on the project.
And the marketing agencies that get a ton of proposals (i.e. the good agencies) aren’t going to choose work that doesn’t:
- Excite them
- Pay well
10 things to include in a social media RFP
Below are the 10 things you should keep in mind when crafting your social media RFP. We’ll walk you through the actual structure of your RFP later.
For now, it’s important you understand the key elements that make up a proposal that’ll wow your prospective vendors.
- Company background
- Business goals
- Social media ecosystem
- Project goals
- Bidder qualifications
- Target audience
- Proposal evaluation
Let’s take a look at each area briefly to give you a better sense of how they help your social media RFP.
1. Company background
How can a marketing agency start crafting a winning social media campaign if they … well, don’t know the company they’re working for?
Showcase what makes your company special and what you’re trying to achieve. Some things to highlight:
- Mission statement
- Core values
- Target audience
- Key stakeholders
- Challenges your business is facing
- Current marketing initiatives
We’ll go into some of these more soon—but for now, know that the more they know about your company and your mission, the better they’ll be able to service you.
2. Business goals
Your big picture goals are crucial for your social media RFP.
Notice I said big picture goals—not the small, crunchy goals that you have for this quarter or even the year. Zoom out and provide the goals that your company hopes to achieve over the long term.
- We want to become a $1 billion dollar company within the decade.
- We want our product to be in every American household.
- We want to become the most dominant brand within our industry.
Your big picture goals help your prospective vendor understand where social media fits into your overall plan and mission. Only then can they help you create a social media strategy to help you achieve those goals.
3. Social media ecosystem
Your prospective vendors need to know the current state of your social media ecosystem to avoid redundancy. What social media sites are you already using? What have your results been from using them?
Some things to include:
- Relevant social analytics (e.g. engagement, followers, traffic conversions)
- Social platforms implemented (e.g. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook)
- Wins from social media (e.g. “A tweet we shared went viral within our industry leading to a XX% boost in traffic)
- Who is responsible for managing your social channels
- How skilled and experienced your social media managers are
If you give your proposal request and the marketing agency returns with a proposal filled with things you’ve already implemented, it’d be a big waste of time for both of you.
Avoid that by providing a list of things you’re already implementing as a part of your social media goals.
These are your paint points and the roadblocks that are preventing you from getting the most out of social media.
This is perhaps the most important section of your social media RFP. It allows your prospective vendor to fully understand your issues and how they can help solve those issues.
- Our top-of-funnel lead generation isn’t generating as many leads as we know it can.
- We aren’t using social media as a marketing tool and would like to change that.
- Our Twitter and Instagram accounts are effectively dormant.
- Branding across each social media account is very inconsistent.
TIP: Be sure to conduct a social media audit to get a better sense of the challenges you’re facing. Once you do that, you’ll be able to come up with a list of goals for your social media RFP—which brings us to …
5. Project goals
What do you want to achieve by collaborating with a digital marketing agency? Why is social media important to accomplishing your goals?
- We want to generate XX% more leads per month via our social channels.
- We want to become a credible source of content and information via YouTube and Facebook videos.
- We want to launch a new campaign on Instagram.
This is going to be a very tactical section of your social media RFP. As such, it’s important to be as focused and detailed as you can.
Ask yourself: What does a success look like for your project? Be as detailed as you can with what you want to achieve in this project.
TIP: If you need help finding a good goal for your social media campaign, I suggest creating a SMART goal. They’re the alternative to vague, crappy goals that don’t get results.
6. Bidder qualifications
You know how every job application page has a list of requirements like “must have a cover letter and resume” or “all applicants without a degree will not be considered”? Bidder qualifications are the RFP version of that.
This is a list of requirements your prospective vendor must fulfill in order for their proposal to be considered.
Some things to ask for:
- Details on the size of the agency
- Proof of social media training and certification (Hootsuite’s social marketing education and certificate program, for example)
- Examples of work with past or existing clients
- Client testimonials
- Results from previous campaigns
- A list of employees—and their titles—who will be working on the project
- Their project management approach and strategy
- The resources they will be dedicating to the project
- Anything else about the agency and their work that is important to you and the execution of the project
If you disregard the bidder qualifications section, you might end up with a bunch of applications that lack the information relevant for you to make a decision. So include anything and everything you want to see from prospective agencies.
It’s crucial that you declare a timeline for the scope of work.
- Do you have milestones and benchmarks to define each part of the process?
- When are the deliverables due?
- What are the timelines for each of these?
You’ll need to answer these questions in your project timeline. Any known deadlines or roadblocks to the project should be outlined here so that the bidder can determine the best course of action.
8. Target audience
Your target audience is going to be exactly who you want to impact with your social media campaign. This information is critical for any prospective vendor to have in order to give you a good proposal.
For example, if you’re a business selling beard oil and men’s shaving products, your social media strategy is going to differ vastly from a business targeting 30- to 40-year-old mothers.
If you’ve created customer personas for your target demographic, feel free to include those here.
As with your target audience, this can be fairly straightforward. Your competitors are those businesses within your industry which you share a market with.
However, you should think outside of that traditional framework too. Ask yourself: Who do I also want to emulate? What businesses out there are doing a great job and you hope to match or exceed their results?
By including this, you’ll be able to give vendors a more fleshed out idea of what your goals are.
10. Proposal evaluation
You wouldn’t enter a contest without knowing the rules, so it makes sense to include the standards by which you will be evaluating the proposals.
Include logistics such as your desired structure for the proposal, and your preferred format (i.e. whether you want the proposal mailed, emailed, delivered in person, etc.).
As for the content, think about what the marketing agencies need to offer in order to be considered for the job. This is where you need to explain how bidders will be evaluated and how the successful agency will be chosen.
Include a list of criteria to make sure that the candidates can tailor their proposal to best suit your business’ needs.
Be sure to include the following:
- Overall suitability and compatibility of the proposal
- Agency/bidder experience and capability
- Cost and budget requirements (very important)
In being as detailed as possible in your requirements, you set up both yourself and the candidate for a positive working relationship.
Social media RFP template
To make the RFP process as simple as possible, we’ve prepared a template to guide you along the way. This can act as a great starting point for you to develop your own RFP so that you can ensure you have the best chance of success.
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