Social media, in all its forms, has become a key factor for ad agencies. While traditional advertising is here to stay, ad agencies are increasingly including social media into their marketing mix. According to Jeremiah Owyang, there has been a significant increase in spending by corporations for employing the services of agencies that specialize in social media engagement and monitoring. In 2010, Old Spice launched its viral campaign called "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" featuring Isaiah Mustafa. Although the campaign was first aired on TV before it was featured on YouTube, it recorded around 22.3 million views between February 2010 and July 2010. The online marketing for the ad was handled by the agency, Wieden + Kennedy. The agency then followed this up with another campaign called "The Return of the Man Your Man Could Smell Like" which registered 12.4 million views when it was launched the same year, in June. Ad agencies can and should get to the next level of their social media offerings.
Owning the Brand: Monitoring Brand Mentions
Social-media-ready ad agencies have become brand custodians as they are capable of generating content that is designed to achieve business objectives. Such agencies stand out as they already have a finger on the pulse of their client’s brands (as in the case of the Old Spice ad). This makes it easier for them to create truly integrated marketing campaigns for their clients. As an integral part of services to clients, agencies could
- Monitor social media for brand related conversations
- Discover actionable conversations and defend their client’s brands
- Track important volume, sentiment and engagement metrics
- Engage prospects and customers via social media on behalf of their clients
Social Media Crisis Management
As the brand custodian, an agency should also plan for managing a social media crisis. With the advent of social media platforms, customers have instant access to a real-time complaints channel. The ad agencies who take on the role of brand custodians, play the middle man between customers and the brand; this makes them well suited to handle customer complaints on behalf of the brand. An agency can manage how their brands respond to conversations by:
- Paying Attention: Irrespective of the monitoring tools used, we suggest setting up “digital listening posts”. Getting an early heads up can make all the difference between a crisis and a complete disaster.
- Value Timelines: Timelines play a pivotal role in handling a crisis. An agency which understands that can avoid the snow-balling of a situation, whilst handling it with finesse.
- Be Open: Start with statements like “We realize this is a confusing situation” or “I understand this must be difficult” etc. Showing that you understand the customer’s feelings will make them feel that the company empathizes with them.
Chrysler’s social media agency, New Media Strategies, could have been a little more careful when responding to the Tweet posted by one of their employees. According to Chrysler’s +7,500 followers, the tweets were seen as posted by the company, not by the agency.
An agency’s clients are always eager to know how well they compare to the competition. Brands are interested in identifying competitor efforts for consumer validation, trends and market research. Ad Agencies can provide their clients with valuable information by:
- Tracking how many followers or fans the competitors have.
- What social networking platforms are they mostly active on? Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc.
- Are they actively using social media to market their business?
- Have they fully integrated their messaging across their social media presence?
- What is their share of voice? How well do they engage comparatively?
- Are they going through a tough time? Can that be capitalized on?
For example, when Amazon’s EC2 cloud computing service crashed recently, it took down thousands of websites with it. Meanwhile, StormOnDemand, an Amazon competitor closely watching this space, cashed in on this opportunity by posting ads on Twitter about its alternate cloud computing service.
Tracking the Impact of Social Media Campaigns
For ad agencies in the social media space, ROI is not centered only on “likes” a brand on Facebook gets or how many followers it has on Twitter.
When Starbucks witnessed sliding sales, the coffee chain employed the services of the agency, BBDO to create a social media campaign. As part of the campaign, BBDO launched a contest on Twitter using the hashtag #top3percent.
- The campaign was well-received, especially in New York.
- The campaign registered 48% positive responses.
- 9% of the results registered were negative.
While brands measure the impact of a campaign by the sales generated or the leads registered, ad agencies thrive on the overall buzz generated by their campaign and seek to determine if the platforms they have chosen have worked.
For agencies, it all comes down to delivering higher value to their clients. They represent the voice and image of their client's brands in the digital world; Managing social media crises, tracking competitor activities and measuring the impact of social media campaigns are some ways an agency can get to the next level of delivering an integrated brand experience.