Do Brands Still Need Agencies for Social Media?

Screenshot from Expedia  "Travel Your Tweet" video
Screenshot from Expedia "Travel Your Tweet" video

Your clients are raising their heads above the murky waters of social media. They are starting to understand what social media actually is, who can do what, and most importantly how to do it.

Social media is growing out of a brand’s marketing department and maturing across organisations to be a core part of business. Part of this transformation means more community management and social media is coming in-house.

Does this shift spell the end of your agency’s social media practice? Far from it, but you need to focus, more than ever, on how your creativity can have an impact on your client’s business objectives.

Perfect sense

Creative, Digital, PR, and Marketing agencies have been the holders of much of the knowledge around social media—seeing long before many that it can change businesses for the better.

It also made perfect sense for them to be the voice of clients, often managing channels on their behalf, understanding their brand and how it translates on social.

Let’s also not hide from the fact that it made sense commercially—all you needed to do was hire a copywriter to write a few short snippets a week, post it, and manage the few responses it rustled.

Today, social media is different. Thanks to your work as pioneers in the industry, community management can require armies of staff to moderate, service, and engage with billions of people. Where once you only needed a few community managers in your agency, you now need hundreds. It no longer always makes sense for a client to pay you to hire people when it would be more cost effective to hire directly.

Strategise

Agencies should focus on having an impact on your the client’s bottom line—which can be delivered through being strategic.

Combine your knowledge of social media and your client’s business challenges to help them use social media effectively across their organisation, and plan with them on how they can achieve goals such as:

  • Improving customer satisfaction
  • Reducing cost of acquisition
  • Increasing sales
  • Securing online reputations

Don’t be booted out of the room by grasping onto your client’s twitter password—change the conversation and work with them to open opportunities for your agency with wider parts of their business.

Focus on creating awesome content

I’m not saying by any stretch of the imagination that agencies should never again write a client’s Facebook post. But you have to ask yourself, is it really worth your client’s money to put together a post about a product recall and respond to all the angry comments?

In fact, collaborating with your clients on their social is completely possible. Using a social relationship platform can easily improve communications and reduce email ping pong between the agency and the client.

Lean your strategies towards enabling your clients to own the day-to-day management of their social channels.

Freeing up your agency-side social media team’s time, means you can focus on creating awesome content that makes an audience love your clients and explore more ways to achieve their business objectives.

Even lions are interested

My favourite example of creativity having an impact on real business objectives was the campaign promoting the new mobile app of one of our enterprise clients Expedia.co.uk. The Travel Yourself Interesting (#TYI) campaign, by Ogilvy & Mather, took home three Cannes Lions this year and increased downloads of Expedia.co.uk’s mobile app by 25% during the campaign period.

A mastermind behind #TYI, Social Media Director at Ogilvy & Mather James Whatley, realised the importance of focussing on creativity to enhance the campaign:

For Ogilvy & Mather Advertising, our vision is always to deliver the best work that is loved and shared by millions. The Travel Yourself Interesting brand positioning has been hugely successful for Expedia, across all media, and the social element was just one component of the overall integrated piece. For the #TYI campaign our ambition was to only handle the creative execution of Travel Yourself Interesting in social media.

More and more you see clients take social media customer care in-house, and we made it clear from the outset that we had no intention of pretending to cover that off. Basically, if it had #TYI on it, we’d pick it up. If it didn’t, we’d leave that to Expedia’s existing community team.

Here’s a super informative case study on #TYI– and yes real lions eat boring tweet.

You have challengers

Knocking on your door are management consultancy firms. Their focus on business process and transformation may also win the hearts and minds of the CEO or CIO more easily than an agency could.

The big advantage agencies have is that social is much more embedded into the organisation whereas management consultancies on the other hand have had to pay to play. To win, being strategic around social is king, not just to the CMO’s requirements, but to what your client’s objectives are across their business.

This post is the first in a three-part series from Rylan on Agencies in Social Realms. Next week: “5 Ways to Focus on Creating Awesome Content for Your Client.”

Want to learn about how agencies can work with Hootsuite? Check out Hootsuite’s Agency Partner Program.

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