Marketing agencies are a great resource, running social media channels for companies that lack the bandwidth to do so. Thanks to their specialized skills, agencies can develop innovative campaigns for their clients and deliver strong results. While there are many advantages to this approach, not being in-house comes with its own unique challenges.
During a recent #SproutChat, we asked our community what they thought were some of the challenges associated with managing a brand’s social media strategy as an agency. We also looked at some of the ways agencies can successfully promote a brand without being in-house. We’ve collected the key takeaways from their feedback below.
#SproutChat As an agency, you are not living the corporate culture every day so there can be a disconnect in the message vs employees
— Movy (@movystream) August 27, 2014
One of the toughest challenges an agency faces is capturing the brand’s voice and mission. If you’re representing the brand publicly, then you need to be well versed in their jargon, messaging, and all other marketable facets of the company. This can be especially tricky if you’re managing multiple brands. Stopping mid-project and seamlessly switching personas is a tough task. Although it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to devote all of your time to just one brand when you’re in charge of many, hope isn’t lost.
A2: Research as much as possible, and often. If you can, tour the brand’s home office, and never be scared to ask questions. #SproutChat
— MOCK, the agency (@mocktheagency) August 27, 2014
Research is a necessary element of your role. A great way to get to know the company you’re representing is to get your hands on their brand guidelines. If it exists, this document will provide you with amazing insight into how the brand represents itself. You’ll also want to talk ahead of time with your clients to identify topics that should be avoided or focused on, as well as what’s happening in-house.
Try to be as involved as possible. Ask to be included on team memos and internal forums so you have a better understanding of what daily life is like in their office. If time allows, ask to take a tour of clients’ offices or occasionally meet contacts face-to-face. And if you have the luxury of choosing your own clients, it’s easy to get emotionally invested in brands that you love, even if you’re not a full-time employee.
Trust is critical to a successful relationship between client and agency. Response time is important and without trust, you won’t be able to provide timely and real engagement. But in order for there to be trust, there must be complete transparency between you and your client.
A1 I like to start by creating a style guide & define voice and imagery, then onto community management & moderation guidelines. #SproutChat
— Emma Cunningham (@EmmaCunningham) August 27, 2014
Before you officially take control, there should be an in-depth discussion around style, voice, and guidelines for community management and moderation. This lets the brand know that you’re both on the same page and helps to make the transition easier. Letting go doesn’t always happen as planned, so avoid duplicate emails and backseat tweeting by establishing a clear and streamlined process where overlapping doesn’t exist.
Continue building that trust by regularly communicating with the client and keeping up with what’s happening in-house. By ensuring constant communication, you’ll reinforce your approach and be confident that you’re on the right track regarding brand messaging and vision.
A2. Be transparent with the client! If you’re the expert, then communicate like one. Don’t just run & do your own thing #SproutChat
— Carmella Lanni (@vegecomgirl) August 27, 2014
Q5: How many brands can one person manage while keeping each brand’s voice distinct? #SproutChat
— Sprout Social (@SproutSocial) August 27, 2014
Although there’s no hard limit to the number of brands you can manage — it all depends on the size and scope of each account — solving the challenges mentioned above can make managing multiple clients feel less like a juggling act. Just be sure that you’re not biting off more than you can chew, otherwise your clients and their customers will suffer.
And if you have multiple people on your team, make sure that you have workflow and responsibilities clearly outlined. Task assignments in Sprout Social, for example, have always been a great way to give your team context around social and help get messages into the right hands as quickly as possible. This ensures that inbound messages and customer inquiries or feedback don’t go ignored.
— Andy White (@white) August 27, 2014
For more insight around agency challenges, check out the replay from week 11’s #SproutChat. Additionally, you can join us every Wednesday from 2pm to 3pm Central time on Twitter. For more topics and follow-up discussions, visit the #SproutChat community on Google+.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.