The Problem With Social Agencies Today
Ah yes, social agencies. Everyone in social media seems to work for one, if not own one, right? It seems like I get a LinkedIn connection request on a daily basis from someone who is the CEO/MD of a social media agency.
So yes, we've established that there are plenty of them around. With an ever-expanding amount of social agencies in the world, you'd imagine that they're doing something significant to differentiate what they offer as compared to the agency next door.
But that's quite far from the case.
Most agencies I've spoken to, talk about "creative" content, having a speciality in identifying the right target audience and creating specific content for them, for identifying brand advocates, for interacting with influencers, for having the ability to also copywrite entire blog posts and whitepapers in addition to snappy Facebook posts.
And of course, they keenly stress on how they're equipped to handle your Twitter profile, your Google+ presence and your LinkedIn page as well - if need be. They'll promise to come up with a campaign, to execute it for you, and get you more fans.
But here's the deal. When push comes to shove, content isn't enough. Blog posts aren't enough. Content marketing isn't the only thing you should do. There's life beyond all of this - and that's where a ton of people start getting cold feet. The traditional social agency model, at least for me - is dead. No longer can agencies survive by calling themselves "content specialists" and talking about how they can leverage just your social presence to drive value to your brand.
Is it time for you to give your social agency the boot? Look for someone who perhaps understands the entire concept of marketing in a more well-rounded manner and call themselves something along the lines of a marketing solutions company? A recent infographic from Circus Social touches upon these very points.
It's a nifty little guide to figure out whether you should be thinking about shifting from the agency you get your work done from, or if you own an agency, think about changing the way you function.
Content is great, I love it. It's one of the most enjoyable aspects of what I do, but at the same time, I understand that there's an incredibly vast need for agencies to start looking beyond the comfort of content.
- Technology: As social media expands, as platforms get more popular and as things get a little more complicated, it's imperative for agencies to also think about expanding to absorb a technology arm. Building digital campaigns and creative social apps for your clients should be high up on your list. Take for example, the platform of the Social Marketer's Quiz that every social media person fell in love with.
- Measurement and Listening: We all talk about how it's "important" to measure how well your posts are doing, but that goes beyond thinking about likes, comments, shares and about tracking more serious metrics like... revenue. That's the point of it all isn't it? It's important for agencies to dive into conversion pixels and track sales conversions and start crafting content that caters more to those metrics rather than to the fluffy ones.
- Add-On Costs Must Die: One of the primary reasons small businesses don't like working with an agency is because it becomes just too expensive. For getting them to run an ad campaign worth $5,000 - they'll charge you $1,000 - $1,500 in administration fees. Paid amplification is a way of life, and for agencies to "charge" such fees is silly, and a sure way to nail down the fact that no one will want to work with you.
- Visual vs Copy: Copy reigns supreme to get your message across, but only if you're able to attract people to it. And that's where the visual comes in. Infographics aren't a thing of the future, they're a thing of past and present - innovating with design and moving beyond that is what counts today. And oh, did I mention - charging additional fees for making a certain piece of content is visual should be a no-go as well, after all - don't we keep harping about how visuals get more engagement and how content should be visual? Why not make it a de-facto standard?
Yes. This turns the entire pot upside down. This means agencies need to do more for their clients and perhaps get less in return. But when supply exceeds demand, you must innovate and you must understand that the price must come down and the quality must go up.
Follow Avtar Ram Singh on Twitter