It’s time for all digital branding and marketing agencies to take an honest look at Social Media.
Looking back over the last few years it is clear that many marketing agencies are still doing Social Media ineffectively not only for their clients, but for themselves as well. Social Media is still suffering from the “hot new thing” syndrome. Clients needs it, agencies say they can do it, but neither know why they are being social or how it plugs into the business side of things. This is dangerous, and we are witnessing the fall out when the client recognizes they are not seeing the ROI.
Here are twelve things agencies need to take into serious consideration when it comes to their own social media services.
- More Listening and Less Talking – Agencies continue to overlook the #1 required first step of Social Media – listening. Not only is this detrimental to their own business, but they are also hurting clients by not providing them the first step in building an effective Social Media program. Listening is where it starts, and an agency who doesn’t show a client why this is important shouldn’t be surprised when that client decides to part ways.
- Effective Communication Through Content – Agencies need to show clients how to communicate with audience through content, and not market at them through social networks. Everyone can tweet, but building a true connection with people is where real value lies. This won’t happen without good content, and this is why listening is so important. It helps clients better understand what kind of content they should be providing.
- Provide Education and Not Just Training – Clients shouldn’t be paying agencies top dollar just to learn how to blog and update their social networks. Clients should want to better understand why they are doing the things recommended to them. Agencies who educate on the why, and not just the how, will be truly helping their clients while separating themselves from the competition.
- Practice What You Preach – Put yourself in your client’s shoes. Would you hire an agency who recommends providing effective content on a regular basis, building communication bridges with your audience, active listening of your competition and industry, and measuring results through calculable ROI when they themselves d0 none of this? Agencies need to be executing best practices they preach.
- Full Business Adoption – Does your agency demonstrate how Social Media works beyond marketing your brand? What about customer service, HR/recruiting, sales, internal communications, IT, technology/web development, and more? Agencies need to be aware of the increasing importance of encompassing Social Media with their clients multiple business touch points.
- Less Isolated Tactics and More Integrated Strategy – The last point leads to the whole discussion of strategy. Agencies who provide things like a Facebook or blogging strategy are just a few steps away from being snake oil salesmen. The available tools are tactics that are part of the overall strategy. Agencies better be able to put the moving pieces together, and complete a full Social Media road map for their clients.
- Be A Second or Third Pair of Eyes – One of the best ways to be successful in Social Media is to help. Clients may be overwhelmed with the strategy you provide. As an agency you need to help your client, and lead by example. Maybe you’ve been listening to your client’s competition and you have an idea for a great content piece. Share information you come across that relates to their business and demonstrate how you would share it on their social networks. Don’t just hand off the strategy to your client and walk away. Be part of the process. They will remember this and refer you when others ask who helped them with Social Media.
- Out = Robots. In = Being Human – As the social web matures, so do it’s users, and they will expect and demand authenticity from the sources they trust. Agencies who champion the auto-publication of content don’t understand Social Media. If this is the only method of content publication you believe in, be prepared to see less business.
- Stop Being Vague With Your Social Media Language – As David Meerman Scott said in his eBook, it’s time to stop talking Gobbledygook. Agencies owe it to themselves to limit their use of Social Media buzzwords like engagement, relationships, influence, buzz, and more. Using these words in a proposal only cheapens your credibility. Speak the language of your clients and show them how Social Media fits in their world.
- Connect All the Dots – If an agency is building Social Media for a client in siloed efforts, they will be in a lot of trouble when that client asks how all the parts fit together. Being able to provide a road map that connects the floating pieces is an essential agency deliverable.
- Increase the Value of Your Clients – Building a lot of Social Media activity for clients is easy, and too many agencies see activity as the end goal. Building your clients to be seen as helpful resources in their respected fields should be the main goal. Increasing the Social Media value for your clients creates longevity for not only their brand, but for yours as well.
- Making the ROI Happen – It’s one thing to talk about ROI and why it is important. It is another thing to show a client how their social media efforts are tied to business results. Even harder is showing the client how they can track this. Agencies better be able to tie in results for all the Social Media work they’re charging for. Clients will demand it, and if they aren’t, they should be.
Social Media as business component is maturing fast. As it becomes more of a necessity and less of an add on, it will be increasingly important that agencies mature their services along with it. So, what did I miss? If you work for an agency what would you add to this list?