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Make a good relationship exceptional: How to optimize your social media marketing agency

Social Media Agency Tips Digital

With 64% of marketers spending over 6 hours a week on social media marketing, companies now consider it an essential channel. The amount of time being invested means getting it right is vital. If you’re using a social media agency, the strength of your relationship can determine the results you achieve. Nailing this connection will not only help you generate more leads and customers, but it should also help you achieve a greater ROI. Who doesn’t want that?

We recently had a think about the pros and cons of getting an agency. But that’s just the first step, what do you do once they’re on board? We’ve spoken to several award-winning agencies of different sizes and specialities from all over the world to get their expert opinions on how you can get them doing the best job possible. If you want to make the absolute most of your social media agency, this is your ultimate handbook.

Tom Ollerton, Marketing Director, We Are Social Tom Ollerton
Marketing Director, We Are Social
"Find Shared Values And Visions..."

Discovering common creative ground that you both care about will give you both an understanding of what you’d like to create for the brand.

People will work far harder for a cause than they will for a payslip. Try and find shared values and visions for your partnership that you’re both genuinely passionate about. 2015 won’t be remembered as the year you 'got 10K extra Likes for a floor cleaning brand' - what’s really driving you? What’s driving your team at the agency?
Tom Ollerton, Marketing Director, We Are Social

Clearly Identify And Articulate Your Business Objectives And Social Marketing Goals

If you know what you want from your agency, it’s a lot easier for them to give it to you.

There are times when clients just want to be present on various social platforms, but they have don't have a clear business reason for being there. When SMART goals are established, agencies can help build a strategic roadmap to success and achieve KPIs. Moreover, this helps the team stay focused on the task at hand and minimise distractions from any shiny new social media objects.
John Cole, Head Of Socialyse, Havas Media

Eric Fulwiler Mullen Agency Digital Eric Fulwiler
VP, Account Director, Mullen
Make Sure You’re Not Buying An Outdated Model

You need an agency that’s up to date with what’s going on, making sure yours understands that you don’t want reheated strategies from two years ago will encourage them to deliver the most relevant and up-to-date campaign possible.

Social media is changing incredibly quickly, and many agencies (and brands) aren’t moving fast enough to keep up. What worked in 2011-12 doesn’t always work in 2014-15. The philosophies, approaches, and services of a social agency has to be in a constant state of evolution to be effective. When you’re vetting agencies, make sure they understand this reality and are showing you thinking and a model that’s built for the future of social media, not the past.
Eric Fulwiler, VP, Account Director, Mullen

Include Your Agency Early On

You wouldn’t want to plan a whole cross-platform marketing campaign, only to find out it wouldn’t work on social media for whatever reason, would you?

Social is no longer an add-on. To get the absolute best of of a social agency, involve them in planning and creative brainstorming as early as humanly possible. That way, there’s someone thinking about how to amplify and support things that other agencies (PR, experiential, media) are doing, advise on the practicalities of socially-driven ideas, and be thinking about social-first ideas in the process. A big part of this is writing a communications brief, to go to all agencies at the same time, versus channel-specific ones written by internal teams, often separately and given out at varying times.
Vikki Chowney, Head Of Social, TMW Unlimited

Bastion PR & Marketing Agency Bastion PR & Marketing Agency
See Your Agency As Part Of Your Team

If someone feels a deep care about what you’re doing, they’re more likely to go over and above to give you the best service possible.

An agency will always work better for you if they feel part of the process. By making them part of the team those working on the account feel a greater sense of brand loyalty and ownership. More often than not, the agency will end up over servicing you due to the connection.

“When The Wind Of Change Blows, Some Build Walls Others Build Windmills”

If a new service or network becomes available, and it could potentially be used for your brand, discuss the possibilities of using it with your agency.

Divergent technology is an opportunity not an obstacle. Were you a brand that said “Snapchat’s for teenagers sharing half-naked selfies” or were you a brand that said “what experiments can we do to see if there’s a win for us and our customers?” Act like a startup with your agency; what’s the minimum amount of investment it would take to prove or disprove the value of getting involved with a new trend or technology.
Tom Ollerton, Marketing Director, We Are Social

Vikki Chowney TMW Unlimited Agency London Digital Vikki Chowney
Head Of Social, TMW Unlimited
Be Specific And Timely With Your Feedback

The more swift and precise your feedback is, the more effective your agency will be. If your replies to them are vague and slow then you’ll miss opportunities, and risk a misfiring campaign.

Creating 'always on' or ‘anticipated' content is continuous, deadlines and processes are key to getting the best out of events. Whether that’s something seasonal or brand-led, which you can plan for, or responding quickly to a news story, having a point person who can provide clear feedback and sign off work quickly is key.
Vikki Chowney, Head Of Social, TMW Unlimited

Don’t Let Social Be Isolated

If an agency is looking after all of your digital marketing, make sure they’re aware of how you want your social media to be integrated into your wider campaigns. If your agency is only looking after your social media, then make sure they are given as much access to the rest of your marketing campaigns as possible so that they can replicate the feel and message as well as they can on social media.

Social is most effective when it’s baked into the core of your marketing mix – when it’s involved in the full process of building a strategy and campaign. And the same is true for agencies. The most effective agencies are the ones that don’t treat social as a standalone discipline, but a perspective and expertise that should be integrated throughout.
Eric Fulwiler, VP, Account Director, Mullen

Let Your Agency Experiment

Agreeing on an element of spontaneous creative freedom may be the key to getting your agency to produce slightly more off-the-cuff brilliance than if your reign on them is a little more rigid.

Being able to test and learn is vital to working out what really performs best. There’s no point in doing something for the sake of it, but sometimes, trying something out to see how people respond to it is often the most valuable exercise. This should always be based on what people do and say and feel online, but having that creative freedom to take measured risks will allow your agency to be innovative and have a little fun in the process!
Vikki Chowney, Head Of Social, TMW Unlimited

Brands should feel comfortable testing and learning new products and platforms. Changes to technologies and platforms happen regularly so marketers need to be nimble and adapt as quickly as possible to keep up with consumer behaviour. If new ventures can be measured and linked to your business goals, then it just may be worth testing a new approach.
John Cole, Head Of Socialyse, Havas Media

Treat Your Agency As A Consultant

Don’t just get your agency working on your social channels, and then forget about them. See what they’re doing, ask why they’re doing it, and try to learn from them. This can give you greater knowledge about both your campaign, and social media marketing as a whole, allowing you to explain to others if necessary.

Your agency is more than merely ‘Guns for hire’. Ask them their opinions and what is the best way to cut through in the market. They might come up with some ideas that surprise you!

What have you found to be an effective strategy for having the best possible working relationship with your agency? Alternatively, if you’re an agency, what’s the best thing you think a client can do to help you do your job to its full potential?