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Why The Best Agency For You Might Not Be A Social Media Agency

Why The Best Agency For You Might Not Be A Social Media Agency

Why The Best Agency For You Might Not Be A Social Media Agency

Do you know who Danny Kaye is?Danny Kaye - Jack of All Trades

I think I can be appropriately curmudgeonly in saying that most kids today don’t know who Danny Kaye, the great 20th Century entertainer, is (was).

For those of you who are unaware, he was a huge star of his time, incredibly well-rounded, with a career that worked through stage, screen, television, records, and food. He died in 1987, after giving us the classic films such as “The Court Jester,” The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” and “White Christmas,” as well as a variety show and a handful of special TV shows. Kaye was a classic comic, too, always pushing the envelope even in serious situations.

A huge part of Kaye’s appeal was his incredible well-roundedness. No matter the situation, he was able to bring something to it: a little soft-shoe, his lovely singing voice, his wide variety of foreign accents, or his in-depth knowledge of food (especially Asian cuisine).

Kaye was a real, old-fashioned entertainment jack of all trades.

A Dying Breed

Today, being a jack of all trades isn’t necessarily something people aspire to, in entertainment or otherwise. Everyone seems to want to be a specialist in something: Hydraulics engineering. Periodontistry. A mass tort litigator.

And yes, a social media marketer.

Being someone who knows a lot about many things doesn’t seem as valuable today as it might have been in the past. With education costs rising sky-high, you want to come out of school knowing that you have a very specific (and ideally marketable) skill set. Once in the workforce, you want to move up, so you want to gain as much in-depth knowledge in your field as you can, to put you in line for a promotion. And later, when you become a senior manager, or even as a mentor, you’re often valued for your specific skill set and knowledge.

What happened to being a jack of all trades?

The Niche Marketer

Over the last ten or fifteen years, marketing has gotten more and more specialized as well. I got my MBA in Marketing at a time when there was mainly one graduate marketing concentration: the one with the 4Ps and 4Cs of the marketing mix, and taught using endless marketing case studies. Now you can get a Master of International Marketing, a Master of Health Care Marketing, or an MS in Integrated Marketing Communications. You can get an MBA, an MA, or an MS (not to mention undergrad degrees in various marketing disciplines). You can find a program that focuses more on digital or add a digital marketing strategy certificate onto your existing degree.

More and more often, we find our digital marketing agency being compared by potential clients to highly specialized social media marketing agencies. Many of these agencies do only social media: Facebook and Twitter posts, Instagram and Pinterest graphics. Many of them do not also do influence marketing and manage SEO and build websites. Or if they do, they sometimes learn it on their clients’ time (and dime).

A common origin story for some of these specialized agencies (which are often only one or two people) is that they are influential bloggers. Or they are Instagram influencers. Or YouTubers. And they believe that their experience managing their social media presences gives them the knowledge (and license) to manage corporate social media as well.

Jacks of All Trades Are Better

I contend that highly specialized social media agency (or a single individual providing social media services) is bad for corporations and small businesses. It’s one thing to train and manage someone internally to be your brands’ community manager – the person with their finger on the day-to-day content and engagement for your company social media channels. You need that person on your team, or else your agency should have that person on their team, and make sure they’re specialized in your subject matter.

It’s another thing to hire an agency that only knows social media marketing. Think of the old adage: if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I’d say, if you only have social media marketing, everything looks like Facebook.

So how do you know that an agency that only does social media marketing will make the right suggestions for your company’s marketing efforts?

Do they know the 4 Cs (context, customer, competition, company), and the 4Ps (product, price, place, promotion), of marketing? Can they understand where your product(s) fit into the market segment, and how to position them appropriately? Can they look beyond the digital realm to develop the correct promotional mix?

The best agency will have a good understanding of fundamental marketing principles, going well beyond social media. Your agency contacts may not be marketing majors or marketing MBAs, but they should have had enough marketing and business experience outside of social media so that they can understand how your social media fits into your overall marketing strategy.

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Hire the Best Agency For Your Company

To ensure that your company is getting the best advice from your social media agency, inquire about their broader experience outside of social media marketing. You can ask some or all of the following questions of potential new agencies (or even of the agencies you’re currently working with):

  • Who in their organization has formal marketing education?
  • At what level of education, and when did they complete their degree(s)?
  • Have they had experience working in agencies outside of the one they’re currently running or working for? (This helps you understand if they have seen appropriate, professional marketing agency processes and solutions….very important to know that their delivery to you will be buttoned up.)
  • Have they worked in other aspects of marketing, outside of social: brand management, marketing strategy consulting (ideally with a larger, well-disciplined consultancy such as Bain, PwC or Accenture), web design and development, partner channel management, etc.

Of course, these questions are on top of the standard questions you should ask before hiring any agency, including their work processes, who will be doing the work, and how do they bill their clients.

If your current or potential future agency seems like they aren’t very well-rounded, they probably aren’t. And then you should wonder if they’re going to pick up a hammer and give you Facebook.

They just might. And that would be very bad for your business.

The One Social Media Resolution You Need to Make This Year

The One Social Media Resolution You Need to Make This Year

The One Social Media Resolution You Need to Make This Year

It’s that time of year again. If you’re like many of us, you’re probably deciding that this year will be different. 2017 will bring a better you, and perhaps a better business too. That’s right. You can and should make resolutions for your business. But before you get off to the races, preparing your long list of business resolutions, we want you to know that one resolution stands out in importance. It involves social media but doesn’t focus on crafting more posts or finding more followers.

This year, resolve to build a community

If you’re marketing to a target audience, you’re doing this social media thing all wrong. Your goal should be to build a community of people engaged with your brand. This means giving your fans a voice and providing them with information they will find helpful. Solve their problems; don’t just sell your product or service.

How Will You Do This?

Provide Great Customer Service

Anyone can sell products or services. Anyone can ask their target audience to pay attention to and share their messages, but not everyone can build a community. To accomplish this, you have to provide great customer service. To build a community, you need to give your audience a reason to care about you and want to not only pay attention to what’s going on with your business but also stick around after that initial purchase. You can do this by showing that you care about your audience via top-notch customer service.

1. Combine delivery of customer service via social media and traditional methods. Your customers should have options when it comes to reaching you, and they should never feel forced into using one method of contact over the other.

2. Kick the automation to the curb. Customers hate, hate, hate having to struggle with an automated system when they need help. While there are situations in which automation is helpful, you won’t make a community member out a customer who can’t get help from a live person.

3. Train your customer service reps well. They should know your business and its policies inside and out. And most importantly, they should truly care to help your customers. If they seem bored, annoyed, or clueless, you haven’t a prayer of converting customers into community members.

4. Develop a method for monitoring and tracking customer service contact. This will help you to improve your company’s customer service going forward and head off reputation-damaging problems before they become mountains instead of molehills.

Share Relevant, Helpful Information

Yes, you have products or services of interest to your audience, but what else do you have to offer? To build a community, you have to provide relevant, helpful information, not just once but all the time. This gives your audience a reason to come back repeatedly and consume your content. It gives them a reason to share with others and even provide their own relevant, helpful information. Without this, you are just like every other company with something to sell. You’re just adding to the social media noise.

1. Find out what your audience needs. You have your products and services covered. Now, focus on who your audience members are, what drives them and what they want from life.

2. Share content and messages that meet your followers’ needs. You’ve identified their needs, so now go ahead and meet them by sharing meaty, valuable content that speaks to those needs. Keep in mind that you don’t have to create every piece of content you share. You’ll want to provide a mix of original and curated content to your audience.

3. Don’t just share content; have conversations. Communities aren’t built by talking at people. Instead, engage in real conversations, sharing ideas back and forth, asking questions, and offering suggestions. Be genuinely interested and fully responsive. Your followers will know if you’re faking it.

Give Your Community a Voice

Your followers have stories to tell about their lives, about their interests, and about your brand. Give them a platform and a purpose for sharing what’s important to them with others and you. Their shared stories and experiences will build and nurture a sense of community among your followers and support an emotional connection with your brand.

1. Provide a safe place for your followers to share user-generated content. Take genuine interest in what they post, comment on it and share it. This content will interest other followers, inspire them to engage as well, and build the sense of knowing each other and being part of a community.

2. Encourage a range of user-generated content. Of course, videos and photos are among the most compelling types of user-generated content, but personal stories really hit the mark as well. Inspire your followers to share their personal stories by sharing some of your own and by commenting on and showing enthusiasm for the stories your followers share. This not only stimulates an emotional connection with your brand and a sense of belonging but also gives each person who shares a stake in supporting the community.

3. Let your community members sell for you. Building a community takes the focus off selling, but that doesn’t mean selling won’t happen anyway. Your community members’ content becomes part of your brand’s story, and as your community grows, so will your users’ reviews of your products and services. Likewise, many of your followers-turned-community-members will become brand evangelists, telling your story and drawing prospects to your business.

Most importantly, Build Relationships

Social media should be about more than just broadcasting your promotions and building up an impressive number of followers. It should be about more than just making sales, and that’s why your emphasis should be on community building this year. Without a personal connection to your brand, customers are likely to jump at the chance to patronize your competitors whenever they offer sales, announce new products, or simply shout for their attention. However, by developing relationships with your customers, and encouraging your customers to develop relationships with others in your community, you build a loyal customer base that will translate into more sales and steady business growth.

Start 2017 off on the right foot by focusing on building a community. With each step you take toward community building, and each relationship you develop and nurture, you’ll enjoy long-term benefits for your business.