How to leverage social data to be a world-class agency
Every agency, big or small, full-service or boutique, attracts and acquires clients because of their unparalleled experience and ability to take campaigns and content to the next level. As an agency expert, it’s your responsibility to bring forward actionable insights that speak to your clients’ goals, audience, strategies and more.
While some agencies might have bigger budgets and teams, marketers can level the playing field by leveraging social data.
This piece will discuss how agencies can use social data and tools to grow their business, level-set client expectations and align internal teams.
Use social data and tools to attract new clients
Agencies can and should promote their services and successes on social media. While still keeping up with traditional ways to get clients like referrals, an effective agency social media strategy can pique interest among prospective clients and give them a sense of what your agency does best.
As your agency shares content, the resulting social data, especially engagement metrics, can say a lot about what both existing and prospective clients are interested in. For example, if sharing case studies is part of your content strategy, hone in on which drive social engagements, clicks and traffic to your website. Going one step further, with Google Analytics, you can see what actions your audience took once they opened a case study’s web page. Bounce rate, exit percentage and average session duration can give you an idea if people are sticking around to read more or if they’re out the door quickly.
Set realistic expectations and measure success for clients
Once an agency has secured a client, one of the first conversations social media marketers will have with them is ideally about their social marketing goals, the feasibility of those goals and what social success looks like.
Clients oftentimes have lofty goals and they should! But it’s important to temper any unrealistic ambitions and think within scope. Arm yourself with data to justify your recommendations and be a more effective consultant.
Whether your client has been running campaigns and collecting data for years, or they’re just starting out on social, clients should be aware of certain industry benchmarks and the metrics you’ll use to measure success.
The Sprout Social Index™, Edition XVII: Accelerate, for example, found that average inbound messages can vary a great deal by industry. Media and entertainment brands, for example, receive an average of 139 inbound messages per day while education brands see an average of 15 inbound messages per day.
Clients will feel secure if they know that they are keeping pace with (or even better, exceeding) the standards of their industry, but individual brand benchmarks are more valuable and relevant.
Once you connect client profiles in Sprout, you can use historical data and the available metrics to evaluate your clients’ social media performance and set benchmarks to establish what “normal” looks like for them. Then, you can demonstrate how you’re helping them improve.
Translate your social reports into a language clients can understand
According to the Sprout Social Index, social marketers in a hiring position said reporting ability was the number one skill they looked for in candidates, underscoring the importance of understanding social data. When clients hire an agency, they are looking for a return on their investment—so your ability to demonstrate that ROI using social media reporting is key.
But before you throw metrics and KPIs at your client, ask questions to gauge their knowledge. The reason a client selects your agency might be because they don’t know where to start or how to translate analytics. The same could be true of agency teams that manage client services and communication. Open up a conversation that feels supportive and educational, for both parties.
Literally made it one of my performance goals to educate…used data, our own successes, fails, etc. more than anything being Real about KPIs and what really matters.
— Jen Hartmann (@jenalyson) January 11, 2020
You can find the specific social media metrics you should be sharing in this article, but the most important thing to know is that what you report on should be tied directly to your clients’ goals
It may be simple enough to educate clients with metric definitions, but once they have a general understanding, dig deeper and leverage storytelling skills to convey a more holistic vision and explain changes that have occurred over time.
If for instance, your client saw a major spike in impressions for a specific period but your goals for engagement and web traffic were unaffected, what data or insights, either quantitative or qualitative, can you point to explain why? Perhaps your content used a popular hashtag but lacked a strong call to action. Make that clear to the client, then explain what you might do differently.
Whether you communicate reports via email or a full-blown social media presentation, anticipate the questions your clients will ask and be prepared to answer. Sprout customers with Premium Analytics who use our custom reporting options can add Text Widgets to their reports to help build a narrative and make callouts that answer a client’s pressing questions.
Data visualization can also help to tell a story. For more visual learners, charts and graphs show valleys and peaks in data that help connect the dots between trends.
Push past vanity metrics to more rich data
One element of reporting that clients and marketers alike can get hung up on is vanity metrics. Vanity metrics include data points and analytics that look good on paper, but don’t ultimately impact business goals. Some examples include followers and fans, raw page views, impressions and more. The key difference between vanity metrics and meaningful ones is that the latter drive more action and strategic decisions.
If a client has a goal of generating traffic from social to their website but is focusing on sessions and pageviews alone, they could be missing a key piece of the puzzle. Bounce rate can be a really good metric to understand whether your social positioning and web positioning are working consistently together and keeping the traffic you drive engaged.
While followers are oftentimes considered a vanity metric, they do still matter. According to the Sprout Social Index, 89% percent of consumers say they will buy from a brand they follow on social media and 84% will choose that brand over a competitor. When it comes to followers, the key is focusing on quality interactions and fans over quantity.
I knooow, it’s scary: I just went back from 600 to 500 subscribers 😅
But don’t be fooled by vanity metrics.
I’ll take a small but engaged list with great deliverability, high opens and low unsubscribes over a bigger one with worst % every single day!
— Andrea Bosoni (@theandreboso) April 30, 2020
Use social listening as a win-win solution for your agency and clients
Sprout’s social media listening is an incredibly powerful tool for understanding larger conversations around specific topics like brand health, competitive analysis, industry trends and other business-critical insights. Both agencies and their clients can benefit from social listening data.
With listening tools like Sprout’s, agencies can supercharge their business strategy as they uncover insights that help prepare a powerful pitch. Set up topics focused on specific industries and hone in on pain points your prospective clients may be facing. Or, perhaps you’re curious about the sentiment surrounding your agency. Get unfiltered feedback from a topic on your agency’s brand health.
There are a number of ways agencies can benefit from listening internally, and clients can benefit just the same. For example, the team at Leadtail, a B2B social media agency, used analytics and real-time listening data from Sprout to help one its clients better understand their top competitors and find opportunities to differentiate.
“Premium Analytics helped us understand how our client was performing and helped us look at the competitive set and see the gap,” said Karri Carlson, Co-Founder at Leadtail. “Listening allowed us to shine a light on how that gap was created…It also gave us the opportunity to come to the client with new ideas and inspiration.”
For leaders like Carlson, these insights can be the key to commanding trust from your peers and clients.
“Social data tells you what people care about, in relation to and beyond your brand, and who is shaping that opinion. When you bring that data back to your stakeholders, that’s when you have a real say in business strategy.”
Social listening can also help agencies:
- Discover influencers for clients
- Track conversations surrounding competitors and collaborators
- Inspire new campaigns or creative concepts
Answers questions about why specific campaigns are working and why they might not be, and how to proactively adjust their strategy.
Quantify how long it takes your team to accomplish things with Sprout
Clients have to know what your service will entail, not just the end goal. The same is true for account teams and client strategists who will rely on your execution to reach those goals. This becomes especially important when you’re on the clock for billable hours.
Sprout offers a variety of Internal Reports that measure the activity of the social marketers and community managers that run clients’ accounts:
- Engagement Report – This report analyzes how effectively and quickly teams are replying to inbound messages that appear to need a reply.
- Inbox Team Report – Evaluate community response performance more accurately, identify roadblocks within your team’s workflows and closely monitor each team member’s activity for quality assurance or training purposes.
- Publishing Team Report – Assess how many posts and what percentage of total posts each individual team member owns.
- Task Performance – Measure users’ productivity and efficiency based on Task assignment and completion across the Sprout account.
These Sprout reports will help set expectations with clients and account managers, who might otherwise make assumptions about how long tasks take. Not only that, but these reports also help keep people within your own team accountable and active.
Get the data you need and more as a Sprout Agency Partner
Sprout doesn’t just offer data, tools and reports to agencies, we offer a partnership that helps agencies achieve more, learn more and grow more. The Sprout Social Agency Partner Program is an opportunity for agencies to expand their network, provide more value to clients, increase revenue and get a first look at the newest Sprout features. Hear from some of our partners about why the program is “like magic” to them.
Sprout thrives in an agency environment, letting you collaborate seamlessly across agency and client teams. Try Sprout Social for free with a 30-day trial and consider joining the Agency Partner Program today!
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