With approximately 77 percent of small businesses now being present on social media, along with an estimated 240 million American consumers being active on social-- it's become increasingly clear how social media marketing has gone from being a nice bonus to have in your business strategy to being an absolute necessity.

No matter how many companies become present on social-- and no matter how many tools are created to help make it easier-- it's still a tedious process when you've already got a business to run. That's why so many entrepreneurs have turned to social media agencies to handle posting and monitoring across their social channels.

Yet, not all social media agencies are created equal. In fact, as an industry insider, I can assure you many are run by inexperienced people looking to make a quick buck, or downright schemers -- while others are completely qualified, honest and well-worth the money. Here's the inside scoop on red flags to watch out for when hiring a social media agency.

1. They have faceless testimonials, or none at all.

Want to know a secret? Many marketing agencies out there will actually create fake testimonials and publish them on their website. Some are from clients they never actually had, while others are exaggerated testimonials where words were added in or tweaked to make the agency look better than they really are. 

If you're shopping around for a social media agency, be sure to look thoroughly through their testimonials -- make sure the testimonials have a face to them, then Google to see if the client's business actually exists so you know you aren't getting scammed.

2. They don't have case studies.

Case studies are the single most important thing a social media agency can have on their website. At the end of the day, an agency is only as good as the results they continually drive for their clients. Plain and simple. Before reaching out to talk with an agency about a potential partnership, look through their case studies to see how impressive their work history truly is.

3. They haven't been able to crack the code themselves.

If a copywriting agency you're thinking of hiring has countless spelling and grammar errors on their site, you wouldn't hire them, right? Ask yourself the same question when it comes to social media agencies. If their company profile has fuzzy profile pictures, misspelled words in their bio, or lackluster content, think twice before partnering with them. "Walking the walk" is crucial in the marketing world.

4. They haven't been in business for long.

Business is a tough game, and those who have been able to successfully navigate it long enough to meet payroll and keep their doors open should get some credit. Every company has to start somewhere, so I'm not saying you should completely count out agency candidates just for being new, but I am saying you'll be taking much less of a risk partnering with an industry vet than you would be a rookie, so choose wisely.

5. Beware of "Jack-of-All-Trades" agencies.

Unless you're hiring a huge, well-established agency, steer clear of those claiming they're experts in everything. There simply aren't enough hours in the day to become an aficionado in every facet of marketing. Many who claim to be experts in all things marketing are often mediocre at a large number of things. 

For this reason, if you're looking specifically for Instagram marketing, look for agencies that have terrific case studies centered around driving results for their clients on Instagram.

6. They're extremely cheap.

There's a reason why shirts from Calvin Klein aren't the same price as those from Ross or Walmart. In nearly all cases, price reflects quality. If you're a tightwad looking to score a huge deal on an agency, then don't be surprised if the results stink. Why? Because cheap agencies are either inexperienced or are actually cutting you a deal, which means they won't be giving you the same attention they're giving clients paying full price.

7. They bend and break at your every command.

If an agency will bend over backwards, left, right and center for you, it probably means they're desperate for clients -- which certainly isn't a good sign of them being able to produce high-quality work. There's a difference between being accommodating and being a push-over, and being a pushover in business is usually a sign of an overall lack of confidence in the product or service.