[This post is in response and resonance with this post, Agencies Can Do Something, But They Can't Do Everything, from The Thought Legion - my response is at the end.]
There are three types of agencies that will help you do your social media work. (When you're ready to out-source beyond the internal team member who's randomly posting on Facebook and Twitter.) Once you've decided you need help to kick your social programs into gear, here are the big choices.
- Social Only – Specialized
- Ad/Marketing Agency w/ Social Media Group
And there are three types of social media work you need done
1. Strategy – Leadership
Experience doing social programs. Innovative ideas. Actively participates in social media as a thought leader and content generator.
2. Execution – Reporting
Experience building content messaging maps, process and tools for managing various channels, reporting experience and leadership looking at data to make "future" predictions and testing those ideas.
3. Innovation – Learning, Seeking, Trying
Make sure your social media team is not prevented from trying new things, making mistakes, and trying again. Also make sure your strategic leadership team is actually trying new things.
There's not much more to it. Make a plan (goals and roadmap to get there) and keep refining and re-visioning your plan as you learn. Execute the plan and measure the results.
But the army you go to battle with has a lot to do with how victorious you are.
Make note of the team you are hiring. Are you working with ONE senior leader and a small army of workers? Are you getting a "blended rate" so they can bury the higher cost of the executives that need to show billable hours as well?
With a small social agency it is more likely you will get seasoned professionals working on all levels of your account. Any agency of size will be pushing some of the execution off to the lower-cost workers. Make sure your work remains a priority for the people with experience, and not an account that they review the day before your "client" meeting.
With a larger social agency, and ad agencies with social media groups, make sure you know what you are paying for. If there is someone in the agency who really knows your business. Make sure you are getting enough of their time. No high-level strategist needs to be involved in all the details of the daily workflow of social media marketing. BUT… You want to make sure you are getting the strategy and innovation you are paying for. You want their best guy, focusing on your business.
Finally with a contractor or consultant, you have the best and worst of both worlds. On the good side, every hour billed is an hour this person was working on your program and ideas. WIN. However, even the smartest guy in the room needs allies. Make sure your consultant has other "strategists" and leaders he's talking to. Ideas aren't created in a vaccum. You want to know that your team is using the best information and ideas coming from more than just one head.
In my own experience, just when I think I have THE PLAN figured out, one of my colleagues (either on the client side, or on our team) will throw out a simple example of what someone else is doing. And BOOM the next big idea comes rushing in. Make sure your team has several smartest guys in the room, so that they work together and challenge assumptions and push new ideas out into the market place.
Because we can only measure what's happened. Social media is the practice of coming up with ideas about what WILL HAPPEN, and the drawing up plans on how to MAKE THEM HAPPEN. And the best team can figure out quickly when an idea is not working and kill it, or PIVOT the idea into a new trajectory.
You can do a lot of social media yourself. But if you want to see results, you probably need to get some help. Make sure your level of help fits the needs and budget you have. And then hire the BEST TALLENT you can afford. And if they don't perform, try the next team. Social Business is not about friendships, or love of the game, or "activity." Social Business is about driving WINS to the bottom line of your company. Your team should constantly ask, "What's the goal of this program?" Every single activity and tweeting should be focused on that GOAL. Never lose sight of the goal. And make sure your "agency" is absolutely focused on YOUR GOAL as well, with the best people they have.
The trick with social business is not to figure out what everyone else is doing, or what they've done. The trick is to figure out what to do next, and what hasn't been done yet.
Responding to: Agencies Can Do Something, But They Can't Do Everything, from The Thought Legion
Fantastic thought piece on the agency model and it's benefits and pitfalls. I will use your piece as a springboard for a similar story about the vertical acceleration of social media firms and how that too is problematic.
We are in a balancing act at all times. As service providers we want to do more, be more, earn more. But more than that, we want to have success at what we do. Now, everyone can do "social" but few can do it well. And fewer still can build measurable campaigns in social, that return results. It's a lot of "activity" and "branding" out there. But that's not worth very much to the majority of businesses that need to show a return on every marketing program.
Social is a part of the team, just like agencies are part of the team. Yes, agencies can do social, and social firms can do design and branding, but you might be getting what you are paying for. A startup branch of a company hoping to establish a foothold in the emerging business models, or grow from "social" in to full-service.
Agencies and small service providers need to remain focused on where they are winning. Everything else should be foisted on a different firm. After all, we can only be geniuses in a small number of areas. Find where you LOVE YOUR WORK, and your clients will LOVE YOUR WORK as well.
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