I recently wrote a post “Over 70% of Social Media initiatives FAIL“. I received more personal responses on that one post than on all posts I wrote in the past 5 years together. It inspired my to write this response to the overarching question: “What shall we do“.
No project success – No Reference
The consequence of failing projects – beyond the fact that it failed: here goes a potential reference customer.
Agencies have to come to a bitter realization:
Taking a print brochure to the web was an important transition
Taking a webpage and share it with friends is meaningless
Tens of thousands of agencies and social media consultants struggle to run their business. The social web is just NOT what so many people think: “just yet another marketing channel”.
10 things successful agencies do differently
Successful teams think entirely different and help their business clients to think through the entire chain of implications of a social engagement rather than just selling followers, fans and a page. And this is no different whether it is a 25 people small business company or a 25,000 employee global enterprise.
1) Understanding the opportunity
The biggest opportunity for any business is to grow the number of recommendations. Depending on the research, between 50% and 80% of all educated purchased decisions are based on recommendations. Taping into that potential is the best a business can do.
2) Ability to coach and guide
Now – in order to be recommended, the company need to develop a good relationship with their customers. And outsourcing that relationshp building process is not only a bad idea it is actually *counterproductive* to the overarching objective of becoming more recommended. A good agency or consultant knows that and can coach the client to build large sustainable networks with strong relationships.
3) Strategic thinking
It isn’t enough to be just nice. That cost too much time and often time has no impact on the bottom line AND is no real help for the customer. Businesses need to develop a sound plan and need to know what customers actually want, what they love and what they get frustrated with. A superficial analysis again is a killer. The findings determine the strategy and if they are not a true reflection of the market – the strategy will be equally superficial. This is no rocket science – because there are robust models to do that and successful agencies just use those techniques.
4) Compelling Engagement
Customers want to be compelled, we need to excite them and engage them in a way its fun and worth spending time. Plus – and most importantly – it need to be of value to the customer too. Successful agencies work equally close with their clients customers to know what they want and understand what values they need. The outcome are compelling engagements that are fun for the team and their clients.
5) Social Media Monitoring
Businesses want new customers and need to ensure that existing customers are happy – so happy that they help new customers make a decision and help them understand advantages and disadvantages of a product or service. The top agencies understand the power of professional social media monitoring tools and how they help businesses actually “manage” to navigate a whole team through the engagement.
6) Amplification Strategies
Smart agencies know how to build amplification strategies on top of the social media engagement to stimulate conversations and buzz. Understanding the true anatomy of buzz is a key knowledge of a well oild agency or consulting organization.
7) Timely Execution
A highly successful agency or consulting organization knows about all the permutation of the social web and focuses on a methodical execution of a project to ensure fast delivery with out any trial and error. Methods simply help teams to stay on course and show customers a professional execution path.
8) Organization Alignment
Nothing is more frustrating than a shiny front and a dirty back operation. Helping businesses to streamline their back end based on customer needs is a huge challenge but also the biggest opportunity for extraordinary success. Customer recommend businesses if they are happy with how they can do business with a company. If a company fails to provide that support, a recommendation will not happen and all the Social Media engagement is worthless. Top agencies and consultants know how to help a company to amke necessary adjustments without putting an organization upside down.
9) Developing Manageable Plans
We all know, if we can measure something we can improve it. A social media engagement is no different. Manageable plans and procedures are important – despite the fact that everything is much more fluent and we want to let go on many of the stiff procedures. But without any guidance, milestones, objectives no social media project will be successful. Top agencies know what to do here.
10) Knowing the impact on the bottom line
In the end very successful agencies and consultants are able to help a client understand the revenue opportunity and the impact on the bottom line for a business. If more and more customers begin to publicly recommend a business, the revenue grows even without additional sales people. If more and more customers get empowered and motivated to help others, the support cost goes down while ties to a brand get actually stronger. If more and more recommendations from the market are getting realized in new product generations the risks for product flops get dramatically reduced and advocates and fans help launch the new product.
All of the above is neither complicated nor requires an enormous amount of work. But it requires to understand the inner workings of a market, it is very helpful to have proven methods, models and frameworks to work with as an intelligent toolbox and it requires a few projects of practice – ideally in conjunction with people who have been through the drill before :). After going through the above list you will probably also realize why an agency is not necessarily “advertising” their successes but rather be recommended by their clients – the same way they suggest to the clients “get recommended”.