Archive | September, 2011

What is the future of an agency?

27 Sep

Just got back from Firestarters 3 hosted at Google UK on St Giles Street. Curated by Neil Perkins from Only Dead Fish, this evening’s session involved talks from the leading agencies in Digital, Creative and Communications to cover the over-arching question, what is the future role of an agency?

Many of  today’s thoughts echoed my own in a way I couldn’t articulate. Until now. The day of the traditional media company is changing at a pace we are yet to catch up with. Buying into mass media space and ideas is decreasing and it’s blindingly obvious why if you stop to think about it. Since the Mad Men era the volume of brands, billboards and places to advertise have grown at an incredible rate. Us, as a society, are by and large brand blind. We see thousands (roughly around 6,000) of brands a day and our simple minds are not geared to absorb so much information in such a short space of time.  So if jumping and shouting “look at me, you can be me” no longer works a new approach to communications is in order.

The new kind of agency OS demands content driven strategies, an area typically outsourced or white-labelled. Social media listening, community management & content creation are all areas we need to become more accustomed too. As brand awareness becomes further diluted we need to learn how to connect in more intelligent ways. Agencies have a tendency to forget we are a service agency at the core, yet this is completely what we are. We service, but not just to clients. We now have two masters; clients and consumers. We think “how can we make our clients happy?” but this should be shifting to “how do we satisfy our customers?” I have a grudging saying – A happy wife is a happy life – and this rings true with digital marketing. We should be thinking how we can service our fans.

The short of this is it is all about value. Get useful or get entertaining. Whichever garden path you wish to go down it is essential to be providing something of value to your community who will in return pay you back be it sales, advocacy or some other worth.

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Social Media Management – It’s a 2 way thing

18 Sep

Editor’s note: I appreciate this blog post makes little sense and has no coherent beginning, middle & end but please try enjoy my disjointed thoughts on how we need to work closer with other media channels to a) help others understand the opportunities with social media and b) optomise social media for holistic marketing objectives.

Earlier this week I spent two days in a rent-an-office being taught the art of digital planning by the delightful Jeremy Hill from Henderson Kite. It would be worth stating that I have had no previous training in digital planning so what I got out of the two days has been nothing short of invaluable.

Working in social media for a big media agency has many challenges including the hotly talked about ROI as well as how planners budget for this (very much overlooked!). For me, I feel the biggest obstacle to overcome is how we better our offering to existing clients and for future business. Social media is very much different to many other areas of a media agency, so a more bespoke approach is needed but this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be adapting successful processes from other channels. By this I mean the systematic techniques for understanding how variable X & Y influences outcome Z which is exercised in areas such as media trading and search. Social media doesn’t have this rigid approach to success because it’s different way of communicating with your audience and therefore metrics are more hard to come by. Brand relationship rather than direct response which is easily quantified.

We’re the showbiz of digital blinded by the lights. Briefs or objectives seldom help. One of our financial clients wanted 500,000 Facebook fans (reduced from an original 10 million) and we asked why? There wasn’t a rational apart from wanting to be big a top 10 liked page, as if it was the latest bling. There is nothing wrong with this if icing the digital cake is all that is, but I’m still waiting for that brief to come in (hopefully one day).

A good example of how the bells and whistles obscure our best judgement is a gentleman, who’s name escapes me, from BBC Online came in to our offices the other day to discuss transmedia and how there are two ends to the scale. The meh and the Yeah! But as you edge towards the yeah with more wild and savvy activations, such as a SCVNGR hosted geo-caching game, the smaller the reach. This got me thinking, why are we alienating are audience to such a fine degree? Is it to only reach your advocates who you hope will spread the word? Maybe the innovation will be picked up at Techcrunch or Mashable and your brand will be retweet hundreds of times for many to see. In all these cases, it seems initial set up of shop and activation ideas are there to satisfy the eyes rather than delivering value for money for KPIs.

It’s made me realise that the way social media is exercised is still in its infancy (Nike and a few others are the exception to this rule) compared to other communication / marketing methods.

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