making sense of social

Don’t listen to your agency when they throw a twitter at your brand

For many brands social media is still a relatively new concept, and something that their campaigns must have; falling into the “everyone else is doing it” trap. And so they turn to their agencies to give them “some social media”. There are two problems with this.

“Please set up a Twitter account”

Firstly, some agencies will literally give them what they want. They will simply set up a Twitter account for the brand, explaining that the brand needs to have a presence in this social space, to be engaging with consumers, entering into conversations. All that bunk. The problem is that they don’t explain why. Why should this brand be on Twitter? Why does this add value to the brand, and why will this offer value to users? Agencies fail to contextualise Twitter in terms of the brand’s communications efforts and their brand strategy. It’s just something they’ve rolled out because the client asked for it, regardless of whether or not it’s the right thing to do.

“We want to make this campaign more social”

Secondly, because the marketing industry is still playing catch to the huge potential that social media brings to the table many agencies resort to seeing social media as the gimmicky add-on to a campaign. To them social media is a tactical addition to an already developed campaign, rather than as integral to the broader marcomms strategy. Either they or the client have already developed a campaign and now they just want some social media sauce to go on top.

Like the brands in the first case, these agencies see social media purely in tactical terms, as checkboxes that need ticking. Have we spoken to bloggers? Did we set up a Facebook Page? Are we on Twitter yet? The danger is that agencies roll out the same checklist every time social media is mentioned by one of their clients, as opposed to strategically considering what role social media can play in their campaign.

Simply setting up an outpost on Twitter (or Facebook or YouTube) isn’t necessarily the right thing to do. In fact, without proper planning and being placed in the right strategic context it’s the wrong thing to do. So don’t listen when an agency throws a Twitter at your brand. Even if you asked them to.


About the author

This post was written by Mike Phillips

Plannery type person with silly side projects. Not to be trusted.

Follow them on twitter: @imjustmike

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  1. kavisolo |

    Great article and to the point. This is exactly why I don’t shoot straight into the “YOU HAVE TO BE ON TWITTER” pitch when presenting to clients.

  2. AJR |

    Totally agree, but would love to hear more about determining when, why and how Twitter and other social media platforms are appropriate for a brand, association, etc…

  3. Brad Christopher |

    My question is when do you know you need to be active in these social media sites like twitter? I feel like i do but I also don’t feel like there is enough time in the day!

  4. Duri |

    I love how everybody triggers a social media conversation with: NO BODY REALLY UNDERSTANDS SOCIAL MEDIA … and then they start preaching about it

  5. Debbie Horovitch |

    all true, except I have yet to come accross a client who wouldn’t benefit from immediately setting up a personal Twitter feed and beginning to LISTEN to relevant Twitter conversations from people and brands in their category/industry

    Twitter’s first and foremost value for every employee, professional and chic consumer is as an information resource for the ubergeeky of every professional niche – the people who are sharing about their business (your competitors) on Twitter are more more connected and up-to-date than people who rely on much slower traditional media

    after six months of conversing & connecting with the social elite of your community, you’ll know easily when your agency understands social media and Twitter or not… does the agency use social media as part of a new business development strategy they can tell you about in detail to illustrate you how social media is used to engage clients & prospective clients (and word of mouth, referrals) with valuable, relevant, content you provide to them on the agency specialty

    any 10-year old can set up a Twitter account, and if you ask your agency if they can, of course they will say “Yes!” – they’ll happily set up a Twitter account with no knowledge of how it can be used, because at the very least they get the sweet deal two ways:
    1. they’ve convinced their client for a little while that they “have Twitter covered”… I’m sorry to say that in the long run, these agencies are actually damaging and costing your business a LOT this month, quater, year in unrealized relationships, translating to more trust with the community and more customers/revenue
    2. they are protecting their ‘territory’ your account budgets for themselves, they just don’t want the new digital agency or social media consultant in town to be stealing away their budgets (your money)

    some agencies actually are able to provide their clients proper social media monitoring (listening to people.. whaaa?), integration and campaign strategy, campaign execution and ROI benchmarking – but how do clients identify them???

  6. Eddie Dillinger |

    Atlanta ranks 10th in the U.S. for active Twitter users. Twitter provides an inexpensive open communications platform that is built on rapid virility. In Atlanta, where the business population is particularly active in the Twitter community, you can broadcast a message and watch it get retweeted to thousands of people over the course of the day. Compared to the cost of television advertising, billboards, and magazine ads.. I would have to say that none of them even come close. Two way communications are the future for brands and the idea needs to be embraced. If you were to hire a Customer Service Representative to talk to your customers all day the cost would be at least 20k a year plus another 5-10k in benefits. Effective ROI or not, Twitter is here to stay. Being active in your community shows that your brand cares about it’s customers and there is no price that you can put on that.

  7. CNC |

    Brilliant. So easy. Why don’t the big dawgs get it? My question is, what do you say to the higher powers at be when they say “we need a social networking strategy?” like you said, it is just a bunch of buzz words and people really don’t understand why, when and how to utilize this channel.

  8. themusicologist |

    One problem I see with a social ‘strategy’ is the intention. Is a ‘brand’ trying to engage merely to sell more product? if so then, in my opinion, they are already playing a losing hand. All they really care about is selling more shit and most agencies appear to be of the same mind-set. The language used means next to nothing if the intention is the same as it’s always been..
    ‘the emporers new clothes’ is a tale that springs to mind.


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