A year ago, I published an article that provided guidelines for writing a Request for Proposal (RFP) for website design and development. It received great responses. It’s time to do the exact same thing for anyone who wants to hire an agency for Social Media Marketing and other Online Marketing and Advertising consultation and execution.
Here are my suggestions for how to prepare a Request for Proposals (RFP) for social media projects and retainers. You can also research and view other Request for Proposals online to find the best format for your company. Remember that the format you choose will affect the length of the responses and the type of focus you want from respondents. Below is an explanation of each section and some suggested questions. Have fun.
Information about you and your project
This section provides a quick overview of the company that is issuing the RFP. It also outlines the desired social media project and/or work relationship between the company, vendor and the vendor. To allow vendors to create a complete proposal, you should provide as much information as possible. You can request a Non Disclosure Agreement to be signed if you are concerned about proprietary information or any other information you don’t want made public. Although it may restrict vendors’ participation, it is often necessary to protect private information.
1. Company Overview
Your business goals
The history of your company using social media, or the reasons why you want to start participating in social media
2. Overview of the Project
Describe the project objectives, and their relationship to the business objectives. Please explain the type of vendor relationship you are looking for. Project-based, Agency of Record, and others. Describe the current involvement of your organization with social media channels. Explain how these relate to your primary presence as well as any related campaigns.
If you don’t have any suggestions, please tell the vendors.
Explain how this project fits in with your overall marketing strategy (online and off-line) and if you have any other vendors involved in your Advertising and Marketing initiatives.
Please describe the tangible outcomes that you want to see.
Please explain the length of the work. Is it a temporary campaign or an ongoing platform for organizational marketing?
3. Overview of Audiences & Stakeholders
List the primary audience for your company. demographics, psychographics, etc
Each audience group should be listed with their primary information needs
Determine if market research or audience research is necessary for the execution of the campaign.
4. Overview of the Response
Be clear about the response you seek:
You might be looking for a hypothetical approach or an explanation of how the vendor will create your campaign. A hypothetical approach to an RFP process is often not the best because vendors might be missing key information that could negatively impact their ability to offer a solution. We recommend looking for general responses and heavily considering the effectiveness of previous client work.
Guidelines for the preparation of a proposal
To ensure that all qualified vendors have an equal playing field, you should create a simple schedule to determine when your RFP will be issued, to whom and how many questions, and when and in which format the responses will be required.
Indicate the date of the RFP’s publication (Month, Year, Day). If your RFP is publically listed, it will be available for those who search for RFPs via Google or other methods in order to locate relevant Request for Proposals
Optionally, you can require that all vendors interested in submitting a proposal must register their intention to do so by a specific date, usually within 1-2 weeks after the RFP is issued. If you expect a lot of responses, this is a great way to limit the number of vendors that respond.
We recommend that you allow a question-and-answer period for at least one week before your proposal due date. You can decide whether you allow questions via email, conference calls, or individual phone calls. To ensure that everyone is treated equally, we recommend you share your questions and answers with all vendors. It is important to specify the format of your inquiry -phone calls, emails, and to whom. It is a good idea to identify a single contact person within your company. Make sure that vacations and other obligations don’t interrupt this process. If the primary contact is unable to travel, designate a secondary contact.
Respondents must be sent to 20XX by the following formats (specify whether electronic submissions or hard copies are preferred or both).
Based on the responses to the RFP, a shortlist of potential vendors will then be chosen. This group will then be asked to demonstrate their capabilities and vision for this project. These meetings will be concluded by XXth, 20XX
The contract will be awarded to the selected Vendor by XXth (20XX).
Begin work by 20XX, and continue until (if applicable).
Questions and qualifications for vendors
Below are a few questions we recommend you ask vendors who submit proposals. While some may not be applicable, it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can about the vendor’s social media approach and philosophy. You can compare the responses to each other and the research you did to ensure that the vendor is current with the most recent thinking and best practices.
Name of the company and name of the parent company
Structure of ownership
Many years of operation
Mailing address (headquarters).
Other office locations
Website URL and blog URL
Primary contact (name, title and email address).
Total number of employees
Social media is the primary function of many vendor employees
Current client list, including those involved in social media work
Social media related percentage of total revenue
Three references are required for social media work. These include company name, primary client, contact details, and a brief description of the services offered.
Conflicts with the existing vendor client base or this RFP
Social media profiles and bios of senior social media staff, as well as links to them where appropriate
Please list all relevant technology and social media partners
Referrals from current clients engaged in social media work for the vendor
CAPABILITIES & EXPERIENCE
All social media and online marketing capabilities should be listed
Are there any tools or products that you can use to help with social media?
Please share any experiences you have had with the integration of social media, paid and/or earned.
Do you specialize in a particular industry or type work?
Please provide links to your primary social media channels (e.g. company blog, Twitter account, Facebook group or blogs written by principals)
SOCIAL MEDIA MATERIAL MARKETING STRATEGY
Please describe your social media strategy.
What stakeholder groups are you most likely to include in a strategy engagement with?
Define the final deliverable from a strategy engagement
How do you approach risk management in social media?
How can you integrate existing apps, websites, microsites, and newsletter programs into your overall social-media strategy?
How can you make sure your client’s legal requirements are met?
Please describe how you integrate client marketing, corporate communications and customer service departments. Please give an example of your work.
How can you adapt a brand from a one-way conversation to a two-way dialog?
Please share a case study detailing the strategy that led to a social media campaign and the business results.
REPUTATION MANAGEMENT & SOCIAL MEDIA MONITORING
What is your brand/reputation monitoring procedure (i.e. What are your brand/reputation monitoring processes (i.e. proprietary tools, methodology, etc.)?
Your opinion on automated sentiment analysis
What technology are you using to help with online monitoring?
What is the average time it takes for a potential issue to be posted online and flagged by the client?
How many mentions have your organization received in the past (e.g. 2,500 mentions per week)?
What quality assurance processes are you using to ensure the vast amounts of data collected during the monitoring process are accurate and representative of the online conversation?
Please describe your method for dealing with online crises
What support services are you able to offer for online crisis management?
Please describe the organization of your crisis management team. Include bios and any relevant experience.
How can you determine which mentions need immediate responses?
Please describe your general approach to sourcing, and how you will respond to comments.
Please submit a case study detailing the work you did in managing reputation and online crisis management.
Include a sample of the monitoring report format, and/or a link for appropriate dashboards. Please do not include any specifics.
METRICS, MEASUREMENT AND REPORTING
Which methodology do you use to measure the success of social media programs that clients have created?
Please give specific examples of past work
Are you able to share any metrics that are proprietary? These metrics have been used for clients in a variety of ways.
What social media perspectives have you used to define Return on Investment (ROI), in the past?
How do you take data points generated from various social media channels and measurement tools and combine to give an objective/comprehensive view?
How do you approach server analytics and community analysis for program measurement?
Are you able to calculate cost per lead and cost per acquisition? Please give an example of a project where you have done this.
Which platforms can you not accurately measure or provide limited information from?
Please send a sample of the final report or measurement document (specifications should be removed).
Which percentage of your budget should you recommend for metrics and measurement?
CLIENT EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Are you able to offer training in social media for clients? If so, in what formats?
What processes are you using to keep your employees current with social media trends and best practices?
How can you evaluate the effectiveness of training and measure progress?
What do you suggest clients do to stay on top of the latest social media trends and best practices?