Ad Agency Social Media Training: Top 5 Questions Advertising Agencies have About Social Media Marketing

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Krista Neher

Aug 25 2010

As advertising agencies continue to grow and evolve we do a lot of ad agency training to help them transition in to the digital and social media spaces.  All trends show both consumer attention and advertising dollars are shifting towards internet and digital marketing as well as social media marketing.

According to all projections internet marketing is projected to grow at around 10% over the next few years.  When looking at how consumers spend their time more consumers check Facebook each day than read a newspaper or listen to the radio (scary).

In training a number of ad agencies on social media marketing there are a number of questions that are frequently asked.

1) Is social media marketing really that important?

Some agency staff are still not  sold on the concept of social media as a tool for brand building.  I was recently asked if social media was a fad that might pass.  All signs show that social media is here to stay.

  • There are now over 500 million people on Facebook – that is more than the combined populations of the US, Canada and Mexico.
  • Consumers want to connect with brands.  The average  Facebooker is connected to over 60 pages/groups and events and over 88% of Facebookers are fans of at least one brand or business.
  • 20% of all tweets reference a brand or business.

The reality is that brands and businesses are a part of our lives, and our social lives.  Not only are people using social sites but they want to connect with the brands they like on Social Media.

2) How do we create great social media campaigns?

This is a BIG question that can be answered in tens of thousands of pages.  But the simplest starting point is to get engaged yourself.  Engage in social media and digital marketing.  Look around at what different brands are doing.  Are there great executions in your industry? What do you think is good and bad about them? What brands engage you in social media?  Why are you interested in them?

Listening yourself and getting engaged is a great first step to “figuring out” social media.  In addition to that, many ad agencies are investing in training programs to help their staff see best practices and learn about how to harness the power of social media for businesses.

These are great first steps for traditional agencies looking to get up to speed with social media marketing.

3) Brands are increasingly going to smaller “social media” or “digital” firms. How do we get a piece of this?

The first step to winning social media business is to get your entire organization up to speed on social media marketing.  Excellent social media and digital campaigns are incorporated at the core of a campaign, and not “added on” after the fact.  Creating a solid level of digital kknowledge in your organization is the key to success.

Some agencies start by creating a “social media group” that people are assigned to.  Recruit great social media talent to evangelize and spearhead, but make social media a part of the fabric of the entire organization.

Traditional agencies have great creative talent, and creative is absolutely vital to a successful social media campaign.  When social media marketing started just showing up was pretty darn good.  There were only a few brands on twitter, and they got credit just for being there.

The bar is higher now.  Social media marketing requires a great creative idea that resonates with the target audience and is delivered in a way that is relevant to the medium.  Invest in your organization and you can win business.

4) Who should own social media in a company? PR or Marketing?

It isn’t the same answer for every organization, and there is plenty of debate.  Ownership should be determined based on the goals and objectives of the social media efforts and the core competencies of each organization.  Either way, both should play a role (and probably customer service too).

Marketing typically owns the overall brand strategy – equity, positioning and promotion of new products.  These are usually crucial elements in a social media program.  That being said, PR owns the external positioning of the brand and how they communicate with the public.  Customer service also plays a key role as the best suited to be on the front line responding to product questions or complaints.

The best strategy is one that includes all of these stake-holders (and probably others – like legal) each contributing in their area of expertise.  Brand should help identify the target audience, the brand character and overall strategy.  PR should own how the messaging is customized for “public” and external stake-holders and the overall positioning.  Again, these are only guidelines based on the typical roles of different departments.  The key to success in social media is to allow each function to contribute aligned with their area of expertise.

5) Who should execute social media? The brand internally or the agency?

This is a great question.  Again, there are multiple success models, but I think that the emerging trend is for internal to the brand community managers and agencies to work together.

Typically, someone on the brand team is best suited to manage social media on a day to day basis.  This ads credibility and humanity to the social media efforts.  For example – Donna from Brand X is more relatable than Sally from the agency.  In an age where people can do research and find out who you really are (on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc) it is best to leverage reall people vs. create characters.

That being said, the agency still plays a BIG role.  The agency should help create the social media assets (brand pages, twitter background and icon) and theme them.  What is the strategic purpose of each asset and what content will bring it to life?

Effective social media requires a strong content plan.  The agency can contribute to and bring to life a content plan that matches the brand strategy and character.  Also, in addition to the base social media many brands run “campaigns” on social media.  Like a Facebook contest, tweet promos, etc.  This is another example of where the agency comes in.  The agency can create and run social media promotions in addition to the base conversation and responding.

What other questions are you seeing ad agencies asking about social media?  Any additional perspective?

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