By James Holland, director of Digital iWeb, a Social Media Marketing and Web Design business.

With around 20 percent of businesses now relying on social media as part of their marketing strategy, there is a growing demand for social media experts. While it is now the norm for a company to have social media marketing roles, for many SMEs outsourcing this specialist job to an agency is by far the best option. So if you are trying to buy in support to grow your online social following, what should be you be looking out for?

Fake beware
Stay away from websites that offer you 500 or more followers instantly on Twitter or Facebook. There is a high probability that they are not real accounts, so you will not have real people engaging with your content.

It looks good and makes you look popular on the outside, but it serves no purpose at all if it does not increase the amount of people engaging with your content.

Besides, it is likely you will be spammed, and blocked for spamming false followers or those who have no interest in what you do. It really is not worth the hassle for your business.

Think organic
There's no magic formula to achieving your social media goals and it simply takes time. If the company is offering a fast solution to create a huge impact in a very short space of time, be wary.

Targeting real followers who have a genuine interest in your brand requires research - is the agency or consultant offering to use a method that involves engaging with the target markets specific to your brand?

If so, this will bring the right audience to your website which in turn will build your branding online. Why waste time with small talk and when we require real conversations to be heard and trusted by the right people?

Content is King
Yes you have heard the phrase many times, but it is true. How is the agency or consultant planning to lure in your new followers? The key is to create original, engaging content that keeps your business at the forefront of your current customers' minds, and then gets passed on to potential customers.

Strong content is a great way to start or maintain relationships plus it helps to build your profile as a thought leader. The prospective agency should be offering to start conversations in real time with your customers and talk about topics relevant to your business.