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Social Media RFP: Guide + Examples [Free Template]

Need to create a simple and direct social media RFP? Use this template to land proposals from your dream social media agency or vendor.

Stacey McLachlan October 27, 2023
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A social media request for proposal (RFP) is the starting place for many successful social media strategies, campaigns, and collaborations.

Actually, a social media RFP template is the starting place. Creating a great RFP for social media marketing services isn’t easy, after all.

Write something too vague, and you’ll be sifting through unhelpful applications.

Leave too many questions unanswered? You’ll spend all your time writing lengthy responses to emails from interested vendors.

Whether you’re an agency or vendor, what you get out of a social media RFP depends on what you put into it. So why not use a tried-tested-and-true social media RFP template to set your project or brand off on the right foot?

Bonus: Get the free social media RFP template to create your own in minutes and find the right agency to help you achieve your goals.

What is a social media RFP?

Here’s some important marketing vocab for you: RFP stands for “request for proposal.”

A social media RFP is an open call for pitches, whether for a one-off project or a longer-term collaborative relationship. It can be put out to social media marketing agencies or individual practitioners.

Your RFP for social media marketing services might do the following:

  • Outline a specific project or need your business wants to address
  • Invite agencies, management platforms, or other vendors to pitch creative ideas or solutions for your brand as a whole

The RFP process allows companies to vet ideas and providers before committing to a long-term agreement. Think of it as an opportunity to scope out your options before locking one down.

A good RFP for social media management services should provide background, describe the project and its objectives, and spell out bidder requirements.

But it’s a delicate balance between providing info and oversharing. A good RFP for social media will provide the necessary amount of detail while leaving room for creativity. It’s worth taking your time and doing it right — the better your RFP, the better the vendor proposals will be.

(FYI: RFPs can be used for other business needs as well. You might create an RFP for help with a print marketing campaign or for manufacturing services. A social media RFP is specifically seeking proposals in the field of social media marketing.)

What to include in a social media RFP

Wondering what to include in your social media RFP?

While every RFP is different, most strong social media RFPs feature a few common elements. (Just read a few social media RFP examples, and you’ll see these same details coming up again and again and again.)

Your social media content itself should be creative. But for social media RFPs, it really is best to stick with a proven structure.

Whether you want to work with a social media agency, digital marketing agency, or individual contractor, we recommend including these ten sections (in this order!) for your next social media RFP.

1. Introduction

2. Company profile

3. Social media ecosystem

4. Project purpose and description

5. Challenges

6. Key questions

7. Bidder qualifications

8. Proposal guidelines

9. Project timelines

10. Proposal evaluation

We’ve broken down each section so you can get a better sense of what to include in your RFP for social media services.

1. Introduction

This is your first impression: a chance to give a big-picture overview of what you’re looking for. It’s like your objective on a resume.

Provide a top-level summary of your social media RFP. This short section should include key details such as your company name, what you’re looking for, and your submission due date.

Here’s an example:

Fake Company, Inc., the global leader in fake companies, is looking for a fake social media awareness campaign. We are accepting proposals in response to this fake request for proposal until [date].

2. Company profile

Time to peel back some layers and let the reader know what your brand is all about.

Share some background on your company. Go beyond the basics and provide information that may be relevant to an RFP for social media marketing services.

This may include your:

  • Mission statement
  • Core values
  • Target customers
  • Key stakeholders
  • Competitive landscape

But you don’t have to give away any proprietary info or trade secrets. If including any of the above in your social media RFP would put your company at risk, just note that additional information is available upon request and/or NDA signature.

3. Social media ecosystem

To get great social media proposals, you’ve got to give your vendors a peek behind the curtain. Knowledge is power!

Give vendors an overview of how your company uses social media. Let them know which social channels you’re most active on or which networks you’ve chosen to avoid. Some other things you might mention in this section may include:

  • A summary of active accounts
  • Essential aspects of your social marketing strategy
  • Overviews or links to past or ongoing campaigns
  • Relevant social analytics (e.g., audience demographics, engagement, a social media audit, etc.)
  • Highlights from your social accounts (e.g., content that performed well)

Discover Puerto Rico outlined its wide range of social media accounts in its social media RFP, clarifying the distinction between their leisure audience and their business audience.

Discover Puerto Rico social media handles

SOURCE: Discover Puerto Rico

A key reason to provide this intel in your social media RFP is to avoid repetition. Without this information, you may end up with social media proposals that are too similar to past concepts.

The better a vendor understands your social media landscape, the more likely that they’ll deliver a successful concept.

4. Project purpose and description

Explain the purpose of your social media RFP. What is the scope of work? What social media goals are you hoping to achieve? Be as specific as possible.

Some examples may include:

  • Promote awareness of a new store opening in [location]
  • Gain new followers on a recently launched social media channel
  • Increase consideration for an existing product or service
  • Generate more leads via specific social media channels
  • Establish your company as a thought leader
  • Share company values or initiatives with a target audience
  • Run a seasonal promotion or social contest

Remember, social media campaigns can and should include multiple objectives. Each goal provides a box for a vendor’s proposal to tick off.

This RFP from SkillPlan outlines the company’s primary objectives and secondary objectives clearly and concisely.

SkillPlan request for proposal


Consider using primary and secondary goal categories so that it’s clear what matters most.

5. Challenges

The struggle is real… real important to share with your potential new social media collaborator, that is.

Most companies are well aware of the unique challenges they face on and off social media. An uninitiated third party won’t have that same understanding.

Identify roadblocks upfront in your social media RFP so you can work together to solve or work around them.

Challenges may include:

  • Customer sensitivities (e.g., anything that would help a vendor avoid pressing known pain points)
  • Legalese (e.g., cumbersome disclaimers and disclosures that often get in the way of creative concepts)
  • Regulatory compliance (are there age or other restrictions associated with marketing your product?)
  • Differentiation (is it difficult for your product or service to stand out from competitors?)
  • Social media security (have you faced issues with scammers or hackers in the past?)

Resource and budget challenges may be relevant here, too. Does your company have enough staff to support necessary customer service and community management? Be honest. The best proposals could present invaluable solutions.

6. Key questions

It’s tough for a vendor to provide a great answer if they don’t know what you’re asking for.

That’s why it’s super common to find questions in social media RFPs used for marketing purposes. They often follow or are included as a subsection in Challenges. In some cases, they simply ask: How will your proposal address these challenges?

Including questions is a way to make sure that proposals provide the solutions or answers head-on rather than dodge or skirt around them. If your company faces significant challenges, these answers will make it easier to evaluate the proposals you receive.

7. Bidder qualifications

Sure, there’s a chance a young hotshot with a heart of gold is going to just crush your project. But chances are you’re looking for someone with experience. The bidder qualifications section of a social media RFP allows you to ask for what you want.

Here, you can request details on why a company may be uniquely qualified to take your project on.

Experience, past projects, team size, and other credentials are important factors when evaluating vendors who answer your RFP for social media marketing services.

Include qualifications that will make for a successful project, help you evaluate social media proposals, and are important to your business. For example, while it may not be pertinent to a social media RFP, your company may prefer B Corps.

Some things to ask for:

  • Details on the size of the vendor’s team
  • 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 work on the project
  • Project management approach and strategy
  • Resources that will be dedicated to the project
  • Anything else about the vendor and their work that is important to you and the execution of the project

Sure, you can disregard the bidder qualifications section. But if you do, 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 vendors.

8. Proposal guidelines

This is where you get into the nitty gritty: how exactly do you want this social media RFP packaged and delivered?

This section should cover proposal submission basics: when, what, where, and how much. Indicate the deadline for submission, how proposals should be formatted, and the level of detail you require for budget breakdowns.

The Government of Nova Scotia gives vendors a clear outline for their proposals.

Government of Nova Scotia proposal preparation and format

SOURCE: Nova Scotia

If your company has brand guidelines, social media guidelines, a social media style guide, or any other relevant resources, include links or information on where vendors can find them.

Make sure to add a point of contact as well. Our social media RFP template puts contact information in the header. But it doesn’t matter whether you put it first or last. Just make sure it’s available for agencies to direct questions or clarifications.

9. Project timelines

Every social media RFP should indicate proposal and project deadlines. You won’t find a social media RFP example without one.

In this section, provide a structured proposal schedule that vendors can follow. If your project is tied to a specific date or event, include those key delivery dates too, but if you’ve got some flexibility, it’s OK to be broad here.

A social media RFP timeline may include:

  • Deadline to RSVP participation
  • Meeting period with vendors for preliminary discussions
  • Deadline for agencies to submit questions
  • Proposal submission deadline
  • Finalist selection
  • Finalist presentations
  • Selection of winning proposal
  • Contract negotiation period
  • When notifications will be sent to bidders who were not selected
  • Include a hard deadline or target project date. If key milestone and deliverable deadlines are already in place, that should be indicated here as well.

10. Proposal evaluation

Just like teachers provide students with rubrics, you should offer vendors a clear set of judgment guidelines to work towards. How can they wow you if they don’t know what wows you?

Both you and prospective vendors should know ahead of time how their proposals will be evaluated. List the criteria you will measure and how each category will be weighted or scored.

The National Institute of Urban Affairs provides a detailed chart outlining how each application will be judged. Intimidating? Yes. Clear? Also yes.

National Institute of Urban Affairs eligibility and pre-qualification criteria

SOURCE: National Institute of Urban Affairs

Be as transparent about your agency selection process as possible. If a rubric template or scorecard is available, include it here. If evaluators will provide comments, let bidders know whether they should or should not expect to receive them.

Finally, indicate the stated budget’s role in your decision-making process. Will it be revealed to evaluators after they’ve scored the proposal? How will you determine cost vs. value?

Social media RFP template

If you skimmed over all that content, we don’t blame you—it’s a lot to take in!

That’s precisely why we built this free social media RFP example: a template to make things easy for you.

Bonus: Get the free social media RFP template to create your own in minutes and find the right agency to help you achieve your goals.

Use this social media RFP template as a starting point, and tailor it to your needs. You’ll be able to use this to create your own in minutes and find the right vendor to help you achieve your goals.

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By Stacey McLachlan

Stacey McLachlan is an award-winning writer and editor from Vancouver with more than a decade of experience working for print and digital publications.

She is editor-at-large for Western Living and Vancouver Magazine, author of the National Magazine Award-nominated 'City Informer' column, and a regular contributor to Dwell. Her previous work covers a wide range of topics, from SEO-focused thought-leadership to profiles of mushroom foragers, but her specialties include design, people, social media strategy, and humor.

You can usually find her at the beach, or cleaning sand out of her bag.

Read more by Stacey McLachlan

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