With the proliferation of so-called “social media (SM) experts” practically outnumbering phone users, many in the marketing profession are beginning to question whether it is wise for a business to use a social media agency.
There have been claims that many social media agencies are taking advantage of business owners who simply don’t know any better about the medium. These sham agencies are full of tools and tactics but possess little to no strategy for how to use them to fulfill business goals. For a business that is unsure of SM’s benefits, the safe bet for a SM campaign might be through a partnership with a traditional advertising or marketing agency rather than a social media startup. After all, many advertising and marketing agencies are likely to have at least one in house SM authority.
But playing it safe will get a business nowhere. Merely posting tweets and Facebook links to a business’s website content will not catapult a business to a million followers or likes that can be leveraged. It won’t even help the business get their content noticed. There is nothing “social” about these tactics, in fact it is no different from advertising; one way communication from an organization to consumers. Little to no influence among consumers can be gained from this. The smartest businesses using SM thrive on creating relationships. To build them you must do as much listening as you do communicating
Social Media Agencies Bring Results
Many business owners like the results they are getting from social media agencies. In a February 2011 Altimeter Group report it was revealed that 59% of companies use boutique social media agencies compared to 35% that use traditional agencies for social business. Meanwhile, in a 2011 Ad agency report, 60% of digital services revenue came from digital-specialty agencies.
In other words, we can expect the continued presence and growth of social media agencies. The inauthentic agencies with people who claim to be experts will eventually be outed, as they should, while the more than stellar ones will become acquisition targets for larger agencies.
A Business Can’t Do it Alone
To accomplish its business goals through SM, i.e, increased sales or consumer loyalty, a business will need time. More importantly it will need the resources to:
a. plan a SM marketing campaign and conduct online research
b. create custom designed Facebook applications
c. enhance the user experience on its website
d. measure and monitor its online sentiment
A business must work hard to create its own online community of friends and followers. All of this will take considerable effort and require the utmost expertise. Your business will need a team of experts operating in unison to accomplish your business goals. More and more businesses are realizing this and looking for outside assistance.
The right online strategies for the right brand can lead to awareness, engagement, and most importantly, sales and influence. The expertise and client experience that social media agencies have will prove invaluable for a business looking to launch an integrative social media campaign.
This is not to say that a business will always need a social media agency. The keys to SM platforms can be passed from agency to business, but only after a certain point in time. SM may seem easy, but in reality it takes time and preparation. It would be a better for a business to learn how to master it with an agency’s help than to go it alone. Your business’s SM success will be a direct result of the time spent planning your objectives and targets.
Michael McGinn is the communications coordinator for Social Fulcrum.
Social Fulcrum uses word of mouth marketing and social media to help brands accomplish their business objectives. The company is based in New York City.