Do Ad/PR Agencies Get Social Media?

This morning I came across an article written in Adweek by Brian Morrisey entitled, “Social Media: ‘Agencies Don’t Get It“, which makes the claim (based off of latest research by TNS/Symfony) that, “If social network marketing is a puzzle, agencies might not be equipped to help clients see the big picture”.

This survey polled more than 60 marketers in North America, Francsocial-media-puzzle.jpge and the UK to find out just how these agencies are feeling about their agency’s ability to help them implement social media tactics. I’ve encapsulated the article in the following points:

1. Agencies tend to apply traditional tactics to social media. The article mentions because agencies have little experience developing social media campaigns, their clients feel they treat social media the same as other traditional tactics. The article noted that, “Clients complained that their agencies – creative, media, public relations, design and others – typically treat social channels like blogs as traditional media. In other cases, their ideas are not backed up by practical skills in the area. What’s more, one client pointed out that his agencies have little of their own experience using social networks or video-sharing sites for themselves.”

2. Agencies aren’t equipped with the resources. The survey noted that nearly 50 percent of marketers said social-media efforts needed to be handled at an executive level with “significant” resources.

3. Agencies aren’t ready to implement. While agencies may be able to sound like they understand the space, they aren’t yet prepared internally to implement. Jim Nail, the chief marketing and strategy officer at TNS/Cymfony noted that, “You get the sense that agencies talk a good game,” he said. “They put up a good presentation about what social media is, but when you get to implementing campaigns, the day-to-day management skills are not meeting the marketers’ expectations.”

Now I do know that there are some agencies that are exceptions to the rule, and those are agencies that dedicate staff and resources to study social media, and who interact frequently in the space. These agencies will have a better understanding of how to implement. Unfortunately, at this point in time these agencies are few and far between – mostly due to the lean nature of the business which prevents agencies from purely dedicating staff to social media efforts.

This being said, if you are a client that is on the fence of whether to go with your current agency or to work with a social media agency, I’ve listed the following questions to ask:

1. How is the agency interacting in social media? Are they involved themselves? Do they actively monitor their brand?

2. What experience does the agency have in developing true dedicated social media campaigns? How were they executed?

3. What type of messaging does the agency feel is appropriate to social media? Do they pull or do they push ad content on customers?

4. What are their processes? Will the agency have a plan to engage the community, or a clearly defined scope of work? Will they have a core team dedicated to the execution of this campaign?

5. How does the agency measure campaign success? Do they actively report and monitor social media campaign progress?

Ignite Social Media