What you need to know before creating a social media RFP (template included)
So, you’ve been tasked with creating a social media RFP. These questionnaires set the foundation for successful agency or vendor partnerships. But, like all formal documents, creating them can be stressful.
Thankfully, you don’t need to start from scratch. There are quite a few templates you can use to guide you through the process, including ours. All you need to do is align on your project and goals. After that, it’s simply a matter of making a few tweaks.
Keep reading for a breakdown on what makes a great RFP. You’ll be sifting through proposals in no time.
What is a social media RFP?
A social media request for proposal (RFP) is a formal questionnaire used to gather proposals for service or software needs. These documents help marketers make the best possible decision on who to partner with.
Choosing a software or service provider can be a high-stakes decision. Once a contract is signed, there’s little room to back out or make changes. RFPs give marketers the freedom to shop around, allowing them to make the best possible choice for their business.
What’s the difference between a social media agency RFP and a social media software RFP?
There are two types of social media RFPs: agency RFPs and software RFPs.
- Social media agency RFPs are used to assess how an agency might approach your specific need. These questionnaires focus on information focused on a project and bidder qualifications.
- Social media software RFPs are used to assess whether or not a software vendor can meet the needs of your organization. These questionnaires focus on software capabilities, data governance, product roadmaps and vendor information.
Both documents collect standard information: company profiles, terms of agreements and payment information. For the most part, that’s where the similarities end. The technical nature of software RFPs allows them to be more cut and dry. Social media agency RFPs, however, vary based on your project or business need.
Social media marketing agencies typically offer a variety of services. They might range from ongoing social media management to one-time strategy development. Your business needs can impact the overall structure of the RFP. As a result, that structure can affect the quality of the proposals you receive.
Why should you use a social media RFP?
Social media RFPs may take time to create, but they more than make up for that in value. In fact, they actually save you time in the long run.
A detailed RFP allows you to hit the ground running with your vendor selection process. It covers all the background questions, freeing you up to focus on big picture items. If you’re still not convinced, here are a few more reasons to use a social media RFP:
To outline specific project needs
Before you can outsource your social media marketing needs, you have to ask the tough questions.
Does your team share the same vision and goals for the project?
Do you agree on agency selection criteria?
Have you identified all the information an agency might need to get started?
Don’t assume all your stakeholders are on the same page. Drafting an RFP creates a much-needed opportunity to talk through project details as a team. Taking care of this before approaching an agency can save you both time and money.
To invite pitches from agencies and vendors
Finding the right agency is a lot of work. The research, outreach and introduction phases can extend your time to contract by weeks.
A social media RFP invites vendors to come to you with pitches, reducing that timeline into something more manageable. When you finally set up a time to meet, you’ll be able to dive right into proposed solutions.
To get multiple perspectives on your project
When you choose an agency or vendor, you’re choosing an extension of your team. You wouldn’t hire a new employee without interviewing at least a few applicants first. You need to screen other candidates to keep things above board. The same should go for your agency selection process.
RFPs are a key part of maintaining transparent and equitable processes. They also help guarantee you’re making the best choice for your specific project. By giving multiple vendors a fair shot at bidding, you access a variety of takes on how to approach the task at hand.
All you have to do is pick the one that aligns best with your vision.
What’s included in a social media RFP template?
There are many marketing RFP templates available. That said, not all marketing needs are created equal. Instead of tailoring an all-purpose template to the needs of your project, start with a template that’s social-specific.
Download the Social Media RFP Template
This will give you the frame for a solid RFP. Here’s what you need to build it into something great:
Your company profile
Think of this as the “About Us” section of your RFP. It doesn’t have to be a detailed account of your company history. It just has to give contractors an idea of what your company does and who it’s trying to reach.
Equip them with enough information to do their own independent research. Include information on your mission, values, average customer profile and industry.
Social media overview
This is where you can provide details on your social strategy and performance. Include links to all existing accounts, both active and inactive. Plus, you’ll want to include quantitative and qualitative information on past performance, such as:
- Quantitative: Follower count, average inbound messages per month, relevant analytics
- Qualitative: Overview of past campaigns, SWOT analysis by channel
Project description and goals
This is the most important section of your RFP. Social media services can include a lot of different deliverables, so be as clear as you can here. Do you need ongoing profile management? Audience engagement? Analytics? The more specific you are, the easier it will be to find the right vendor.
When it comes to social media goals, stick to broad objectives. Allow the bidder to come back to you with SMART goals, providing them with enough flexibility on how they’d like to approach the project.
Project milestones and deadlines
The vendors you approach will likely build out their own project timeline based on your request, but they will need details to do so.
Include an ideal project start date and any time-sensitive information. For example, if your project is tied to a larger marketing initiative that’s launching on a set date, vendors will need that context to create an accurate timeline.
If you’re looking for ongoing social media management services, review your current workflows. Where will the content approval process fit in? How quickly will you be able to provide feedback?
This also allows vendors who cannot meet your deadlines to remove themselves from the process to avoid wasting anyone’s time.
Proof of work
Proof of work (or bidder qualifications) gives vendors the opportunity to make their case for your business.
Request any specific experience information (testimonials, case studies, references, etc.) in this section. If you’re in a niche industry, you may want to ask for specific examples of previous work that relate to your business.
Agencies often keep this information on their website. Still, including it in your social media RFP can get you deeper insight into who you’re working with and how they work.
Terms of agreement
Choosing a new vendor is also a legal decision. The final contract will need to be approved by your legal team before you can sign it.
There’s nothing worse than being ready to kick off a project and running into a frustrating legal hurdle. By asking for terms of the agreement upfront, you can get a head start on reviewing the request. That way, you can address any issues during the selection process.
Your payment schedule will depend on the scope of your project. For example, ongoing services may be billed by the hour, but campaign-based services can be billed by milestone. Typically, vendors will also require a percent-based deposit to begin a project as well.
Points of contact
A single point of contact can do wonders when it comes to limiting confusion. In this section, list a point of contact for the sales process and another for once the contract is signed. Leave space for the bidder to do the same. When it’s time to set a meeting, you’ll know exactly who you’re reaching out to.
Ask the bidder to outline how they would like to move forward after the proposal has been reviewed. Each agency will have its own process.
To keep track of how the process is advancing, create a vendor selection scorecard that lists all your RFP criteria. Include columns for each vendor, so you can maintain a quick snapshot of who meets your different needs. You can also use this sheet to track where your team is at in the selection process.
Ready to create your next social media RFP?
The right social media RFP can land you great bids that lead to even better project outcomes. Create your own using this template alongside the guidelines above. You’ll be sorting through unique perspectives on tackling your marketing challenges in no time.
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