Advertising is when one throws something at a mass and hope they listen.
Social media is when many throw something at one and hope that the one is listening.
So it looks like social media and advertising are orthogonal to each other. But since "social" is the way to go, advertising agencies are seeking ways to add social media into their mix. Some try "tweeting for clients", "run social media advertising", "building fan pages"…. but with only little success. More frustrating: those services don't bring the six digit figures like the TV spots or print campaigns of the past.
Are there six or even seven figure social media campaigns?
Absolutely. But certainly not the way Joe Doe Creative Director thinks. Tweeting for clients is the least successful, mostly even counter productive way to bring a client into the social web. Thousands of Fan Pages are dormant URLs after the first enthusiasm is over and haven't done *anything* for the brand. Giving out promo codes in Twitter is not social media but a very traditional way to give out promo codes anywhere – this has nothing to do with social media.
So what can an advertising agency offer?
In the past two years we worked with ad agencies and helped them redefine their service portfolio and bring it into alignment with the so called social customer. To do that an agency need to understand two things:
1) The so called "social customer" is not looking for a brand or any kind of advertising in the social web but for experience, solutions, relationships to others and so forth. The search term "Has anybody experience with…" returns 18 Million results.
2) Unlike in the 80's where advertising was mixed into the "News" and created attention, in this new world where 500 Million seek attention, advertising is fainting away as unnoticed random noise.
NOW – this new world offers one of the greatest potentials for advertising agencies and their clients leveraging the social web and rather use the voice of the masses then trying to go against that noise. We are all a customer of somebody else and publish our opinion more than ever. The new "advertising" is a strategy that we call "Amplification Model". And the new advertising agencies have to master the communication in a new world with new tools and techniques.
The new service portfolio
1) Four Quadrant Assessment Service
The first step in any social media engagement is to help businesses understand where they and their clients are. Social media assessments, audits, monitoring, SWOT analysis are sought after services most agencies don't offer today. The Four Quadrant Assessment model is a methodical approach to analyze the brand, the customers, the partner and alliance ecosystem and the competition. It is a major task to do that for larger organizations
2) Social Media Strategy Service
Once the assessment is completed a strategy needs to be developed. A social media strategy is rather different from a traditional marketing strategy as it needs to involve the market itself. Nobody can mobilize their market for a social engagement if the "to be engaged" has no ownership in the strategy. The social media strategy hexagon is a strategy framework that helps agencies and their clients to develop a go to market strategy. For global organizations a massive undertaking, yet one that sets the respective organization quickly apart from the competition.
3) Social Media Planning
After assessment and strategy, the execution phase will introduce a new way of customer and market interaction for the respective organization. A market integrated approach requires more than just a few tweets or a fan page. Also here, a planning framework brings the professional execution model into an otherwise highly creative and individual campaign. Social media requires even more creativity, uniqueness and personal touch than any marketing approach before. Agencies are creative by design – now it is up to the agency to apply that creativity to a new market.
4) Social Media Monitoring
One of the biggest challenges to all businesses is that the market is moving fast and trends are growing or declining faster than ever before. Traditional market research is nearing it's end. Businesses need to tune into their market in real time. Agencies need to connect the dots and help their clients to listen to their markets, react in short order and compete on speed. After over two years day to day experience with social media monitoring we know the ins and outs and agencies need to be there as soon as possible to offer that service to their clients.
5) Presence Building
Only after a well rounded strategy a client can build a successful presence in the social web. It's like in the old days where one wouldn't just type up a text and place it as add in Wall Street Journal. The new market presence is much more sophisticated and more demanding. Larger agencies have the potential to provide a broad range of presence services to clients but only once the agency knows why this needs to happen in the first place – because everybody is there is certainly not the right answer.
6) Amplification Initiatives
The top tier technique of social media strategists is amplification. We teach amplification strategies in both the strategist class as well as the social business masters class. Unlike "viral marketing" where a manufacturer hopes the product goes viral and accepts the risks of a campaign dying out quickly or taking unwanted directions, amplification is a technique that is in concert with the existing customer base, and much better suited for B2B and better to manage in B2C markets.
The above mentioned methods, models and frameworks are used by over 50 certified social media strategists around the world. The Social Media Academy is conducting an orientation event on Dec 8 to provide more insight into how an agency can acquire the knowledge to include those services into their portfolio.
The biggest line item of an agency's P+L was media. The agency may have had $100,000 for creative work but $1,000,000 for the placement of the ad in TV, print or other media. Size and ratio is changing. The same campaign may be done with $500,000 where $250,000 is the agency part and $250,000 is external production and maybe some media. Social media is first and foremost about "social" not "media" and that shift is very visible in the cost structure of a campaign.
2010 was already the year where businesses seriously looked into social media and explored ways to get closer to their customers. 2011 and 2012 will be years of execution.