Which services a social media marketing agency might offer and the value they provide.
“What does a social media marketing agency do?”
My Dad asked me this recently, and I thought it was funny.
If my Dad doesn’t understand what I do, then my prospective clients probably don’t either.
In a nutshell, most day-to-day activities inside a social media marketing agency are focused on creating and organizing content, and then scheduling and publishing that content across various channels.
At its core, it’s a fairly boring job, I’d say.
Nothing all too exciting.
And although it is rewarding to know that millions of people have seen my copywriting and hit the “like” button on posts that I’ve created, social media is not glamorous, and it certainly isn’t about vanity metrics like “likes” and followers.
Here is our CEO, Derric Haynie, discussing the multitude of services a social media marketing agency typically offers:
What is social media really about?
There is one core component of social media marketing that cannot be ignored or forgotten.
This is the one thing that makes social media a marketing activity and not just a fun pastime executed for shits and giggles.
And what I’m referring to is probably pretty surprising to outsiders because when people tend to think about “social media” – the first thing that pops into their heads is cat memes and selfies…
But what I’m talking about is reporting and analysis.
As a team, we spend a ton of time aggregating data and analyzing it.
I’ve even gone as far to say that we are a data analytics company, and we use social media to create the data we need to analyze.
Understanding the data that comes in from posting on social media is the key to a winning strategy.
If you aren’t paying attention to the data, which is right there for you to grab by the way, then you will continue with sub-par strategies and growth will be slower.
We regularly audit our accounts and use that data to make detailed internal reports that inform our content direction and overall strategy.An #agency will regularly analyze data & create internal reports that dictate strategy. Click To Tweet
And that is one of the reasons we might butt heads with our clients.
It’s because we actually have data about their audience, their brand, their content, and so on…sometimes, we even have more information than them.
And they want things to be “this” way, but we might have data showing it should be “that” way…
Ultimately, there is, in fact, a right and wrong way to do things, and we as marketers have been trained to listen to the audience and to the data.
We also make detailed reports for our clients.
Unfortunately, and I’m going to be honest here…
Those reports are designed for “ego-stroking.”
Basically, we report on our efforts and successes or failures in an effort to prove the client should keep us around for another month.
And I’m probably making this sound worse than it really is, because our reports are awesome and helpful to the client, but I specifically designed them to showcase the value of social media from an overall marketing strategy and business strategy position.
Our usual, monthly reports are designed to prove our value to the client, but not necessarily to give detailed outlines of the small strategy adjustments we’ve made to their account.
These reports don’t usually say what post should never be posted again, what influencer targeting performed best for our ad campaigns, or Twitter outreach template elicited the most replies.
Those items are not things that clients are typically interested in, so we leave them out…
Because we need to show the client the things they care about, and unfortunately, that is typically “How many followers did we get?”
Or, much much better, how much revenue did we generate?
And while that is a good question, it’s also very tricky to answer – social media doesn’t always offer clear cut ROI.
It bridges brand awareness and sales in an interesting way.Great #SocialMedia marketing bridges #BrandAwareness with sales. Click To Tweet
Social media has the ability to insert multiple touchpoints into the buyer’s journey, thus strengthening and experentializing the theoretical “spread” from the first time a person hears the name of the brand to the point where they become repeat buyers, referrers and eventually, passionate fans.
The inherent value in social media marketing is the consistent repeating of these positive micro-interactions at scale.The value of #SocialMedia is the repeating of positive micro-interactions at scale. Click To Tweet
The following services are what a social media marketing agency may offer in order to accomplish this almost imperceptible, but extremely effective and beneficial nurturing.
What services does a social media marketing agency offer?
All social media agencies price themselves differently and not all social media agencies will offer the same services.
But, we’ve found the best results using a mix of organic and paid strategies.
We also typically only work with clients who are producing (or who are looking to produce) stellar, thought leadership-style content.
Truth is, social media is only as good as what you have to say.
Before we work with anyone, we always make sure that the brands we represent have a unique perspective and exciting point of view within their industry.
Without the element of great content, social media efforts fall flat regardless of whether you do ads or organic, but let’s get back to the point.
At Vulpine Interactive, we’ve tested a number of different digital tactics in order to target, engage, and convert the audiences of our clients. Those tactics all boil down into a few categories which make up our main service offerings.
Those categories are:
- Account Management
- Customer Service
- Account Growth
There are a few other components that don’t exactly fit perfectly into any of these categories, and I’ll get to those in just a minute, but first, let’s dive into the core services.
Account management comes in two flavors.
The first is about publishing and content creation, the second is about engagement.
Tasks like finding relevant content to share (aka content curation), promoting a piece of original content, optimizing a headline for a social post, creating visual assets, brainstorming content topics, gathering industry-specific statistics or defining a posting schedule would fall into the publishing and content creation arena.
Responding to messages, reaching out to influencers, creating strategic partnerships, deleting spam comments, participating in a group conversation or messaging a person who has used a certain hashtag would constitute engagement.
Both of these activity buckets increase impressions and therefore, brand awareness, but the engagement portion of account management is really where the relationship building happens.
Social Media Customer Service
While we talked about management just a sec ago, social media customer service is basically taking management to the next level in that we are helping solve customer problems, right there on-channel.
Being able to execute on this requires a close level of communication between us and our clients.
We work directly with the customer service team of our client’s company to get the answers we need, sometimes submitting tickets on behalf of the user, and then solving the problem for the customer as fast as possible.
We like to say that a customer reaching out on social media with a problem is just one step away from being an unhappy customer sharing their problem with social media.
Our goal is to respond to and handle these customer service requests on whichever channel they come in on in order to provide the best brand experience.
Not only is it important to respond to all customer service inquiries that happen on social media, it is also ideal to address any reviews your company might receive, positive or negative.
In terms of reputation, nothing looks worse than a wall of unhandled, negative reviews.
Social Advertising (Paid Media)
Currently, the main channel to advertise on from a social standpoint is Facebook, but any of the other large-scale social networks offer advertising and may be used if the audience is right.
Advertising is a whole different ball game than organic, simply because there is a strong need for consistent measurement and optimization that just doesn’t happen as easily with organic social media.
With social advertising, you are spending money to reach more people, so being sure that you have the correct targeting, content, message, creative…
All that stuff comes into play in order to keep your costs reasonable.
Advertising tasks include conceptualizing and creating campaigns, defining audiences to target, testing different options, setting up conversion tracking, optimizing campaigns and scaling them out.
Social advertising should almost always be the backbone of any good social media marketing agency.
For most brands, it’s impractical to rely solely on organic, and if you do have great organic reach, you can probably do better by amplifying with paid.
While management and advertising will increase the growth of a social media account, we tend to think about account growth as a separate component, because the activities you do to grow an account vary with the size of account and industry, and we need to think about growth as a line item in the services we offer.
Sometimes you may not want account growth, sometimes that is all you want.
Oh, and by the way, never buy fake followers, ever ever.
It’s just a bad idea and can really ruin your account.
For Twitter, we grow accounts through hyper-focused targeted follow/unfollow, active engagement, and curating/distributing high-quality content from relevant sources.
For Facebook, we can share content in groups, do share for share partnerships with other pages, or run paid ads. Of course, there are a few other tactics, but these are the main ones worth getting into.
For Instagram, we do a combination of targeted liking and follow/unfollow. We also use commenting as a way to drive people back to our profile, but do this sparingly and only when it makes sense to do so, as in, it actually might provide value to the person on the other end.
Other Social Media Services and Competencies
These other services and elements of our services are somewhat difficult to bucket because they actually affect a number of the categories listed above.
However, they are just as relevant to how we operate and drive the best results for our clients.
Chatbots are a funny thing because they can be applied as engagement or customer service tools.
We’ve integrated a Facebook chatbot with Zendesk, a customer service platform, to allow our clients’ customers to submit tickets right there in the backend of Facebook, without having to wait for a real person on Facebook to respond to their request.
This has significantly sped up the turnaround time for customers submitting problems on social media – which means less complaints about the company on social.
Or, we can use chatbots to create long workflows and engagement cycles.
If the client’s page is getting a lot of people messaging it, and you want to create an engaging experience. You can walk them through product reviews, educational or blog content, videos, or conversations, all with a chatbot.
Note: We don’t just pitch using a chatbot for everyone just because it’s a novelty. While it can be a fun thing to mess around with, there needs to be a business purpose to it.
And there also needs to be a clear demand for it, before investing into something like that.
The main value prop for a chatbot is that it creates a messenger list, which is like an email list, but people actually read the messages – open rates of over 85%, whereas email is under 30% and sometimes worse.
So by commenting on a post, or messaging a page, we can now ask the user if they’d like to receive additional updates about our company via messenger.
If they say yes, we can send them updates, product launches, campaigns, videos, etc. all straight to their phone.Unlike with #EmailMarketing, #Chatbots build lists where people actually read the messages. Click To Tweet
As part of doing business, an agency and a client must communicate regularly.
Communication is very important and we meet about campaigns, new initiatives, content, preparing for events, etc.
We typically like to live in our clients’ Slack channel so that we can get feedback in real time.
We also make it a point to meet regularly with our clients, especially (but not only) in the beginning during our onboarding process.
We’ve always felt that the agency-client relationship is a partnership, so keeping in close contact is key to making it work.
Digital marketing consulting
While we don’t usually create our client’s content ourselves, we do find it important to discuss the strategy with whoever is in charge of producing it.
An example of how we might help to direct content direction can be found in our Instagram Marketing Case Study here.
Since we understand the channel, the audience and the targeting options, we tend to have valuable strategic insight into the content creation process.
And since we are digital marketers, we have a wide range of industry knowledge that expands out of the world of just social media.
We can use our knowledge to consult on website conversion optimization, email marketing, branding and many other areas inside the digital arena in order to ensure that our efforts on social have the best impact.
While this isn’t technically included in any of our services, it is an area that we as marketers pride ourselves in being on the forefront of.
Social media changes every single day.
Digital marketing changes every day.
In order to stay on top, we have to take the initiative.
We have to be constantly reading articles and books, listening to podcasts, watching videos, attending events and conferences, meeting and interacting with the big names in our industry, testing and learning from different strategies and taking in all we can about the latest tools and technologies available to us.
And while these things do take time away from our client services, any agency who doesn’t spend considerable time on education is one that you don’t want to be working with.#SocialMediaTip: Don’t hire an agency that doesn’t spend time on industry education. Click To Tweet
So, what does a social media marketing agency do?
Each client’s strategy is going to be different based on their audience, budget, brand, and goals.
When you break it down like this, you can see that there is always a lot to be done.
To recap: the value in social media marketing for a company is their customer’s continuous experience of positive brand interactions.
Analyzing the data we collect from our efforts and coming up with ways to hone in on our target audience and figuring out how to best serve them on behalf of our clients’ companies is the value a social media marketing agency can provide.
To provide these interactions and values, an agency must get to know the inner and outer workings of a brand, develop a strategy tailored to meet the client’s goals, and define a set of processes for implementing the strategy and reporting the data back to the client in a digestible, relevant way.
That’s what a social media marketing agency does.