Success Pattern — Social Media Agencies

In the past 5 years we’ve seen agencies come and go, raise and fall. A pretty typical scenario for a rapidly growing emerging market. As we helped hundreds of people starting their own company or  re-structuring their existing business, I thought I share my observation. This is not so much about skills but how those companies are seen from the outside.

 

What Worked and what didn’t

1) Portfolio

Successful agencies are having a very clearly defined and for newcomer easy to understand service portfolio. It’s shared right on their website and often has at least ball park pricing. They have often times a clear focus in terms of their offering i.e. Social Media Monitoring, presence setup, or apps development.

Less successful agencies have a high level list of buzz words that you can find everywhere in the web with no way of differentiating them from others. Most of the less successful agencies simply offer “everything” which in today’s stage of social media is very hard to do and very had to trust.

2) Target Audience

Successful agencies defining their range of expertise like B2B or B2C, company size, departmental focus even. Making it easy for a prospect to see a match of needed skills.

Less successful agencies have a “scaleable” offering from helping individuals to global enterprises, support all business disciplines and all industries.

3) References

Successful agencies share some references or at least have some stories without mentioning names or brands and share their experience – typically in a blog with frequent updates. The larger agencies who are working for larger clients have hardly a chance to get an official go for references but the sample stories they supply give important indications.

Less successful agencies are often just blasting out content for their clients without long term success and as such having a hard time to talk about any kind of success.

4)  Experience

Successful agencies share their experience either on their blog or in webinars or other media. Listening and reading about the way they think, how they approach things and what their experience is, is a key to better understand what they would be able to do for clients.

Less successful agencies hardly communicate about what they are doing but typically sharing what others do and say, simply due to lack of experience. While sharing content from others is a great thing to do, there are times one has to open up and put a stake in the ground about their own thinking.

5) Doing Business

Successful agencies make it easy to do business with them by having their phone number and social presence easy to find on all pages and make it very clear what they have to offer, for what type of client and in what industry or market segment.

Less successful agencies have hardly their own social presence listed. Often not even a phone number and it remains unclear what they actually have to offer.

6) Social Presence

Successful agencies have a rather complete social presence and update frequently. Many of the rather successful agencies are also seen on other sites and actually “live” in the social web, but most of the time at customers sites and presences.

Less successful agencies have often times a very good looking presence but spotty updates. If they are busy with one project they have no time taking care of their own presence. Less successful agencies follow more people than following them or have rather equal follower / following, have not much original content on their sites.

 

I purposely didn’t talk about skills as this is a whole different discussion. This post may help those who wonder why it is so hard to get clients, to re-evaluate their representation in the market.

Axel
http://XeeMe.com/AxelS

 

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New programs, new training center

With the new structure and the new name, Societ3 Academy also made some significant enhancements to both, the training program and also the way we deliver the education.

Enhanced Education Program

New Classes

Certified Social Media Manager

Certified Social Presence Designer

Certified Social Media Partner Manager

See the complete program overview 2013

Enhanced Education Model / Delivery

While the biggest advantage of our Academy was always the hands on experience right inside the social web, collaborating online and acting in real cases, in the real environment, we did recognize the need for onsite training class room education.

Online Only Training

For the more advanced users we continue to offer online only classes. Meaning the entire program is delivered in a “hybrid model” of self paced online learning and instructor lead online workshops.

Class Room Training

Most of the new classes are a combination of two day intense training in our training center in San Francisco or Cannes (France) and then 3 to 6 weeks hands on experience. All project exercises are performed in teamwork and online collaboration and  participating in weekly instructor lead online workshops.

Business Relevant Education

Social media is neither complicated, nor technically challenging. You will find thousands of free webinars and lists of tips and tricks online. Some of the more challenging business aspects can easily be learned through any of our $49 online lessons including exercises. But at some point in time you want to get real world project experience, without using your customers as ginny pigs.  You will want to do things right at the first time. When it comes to social business strategies, social media marketing concepts, crowd sourcing initiatives, improving customer experience, service models, and many other business aspects, a solid   education becomes mandatory. S3 Social Media Academy programs assume that attendees have been through a first series of experiments and now want to get a professional and effective education.

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Creating a Social Media Strategy Handbook

95% of the customers had a choice when they purchased the product or service in the first place, they had a reason for their selection. The single most successful way to use social media is empowering customers to share that reason and turn it into recommendations. The single biggest challenge: make it actually happen.

The Social Media Strategy Handbook

It became best practices to create a Social Media Strategy Handbook for each social media project documenting everything including the ultimate goal and purpose, initial market research, SWOT analysis, strategy, programs, actions, social presence, resources, budgets, reporting and the ROI.

We are sharing two examples of those strategy books that were created by attendees of the Social Media Strategist class. One was for Lindt Chocolate and one for a Hotel & Spa in the Caribbean. None of the information provided here is confidential – everything can be found in the public social web. Continue reading “Creating a Social Media Strategy Handbook”

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Thousands Of Social Media Agencies/Managers At Risk

I recently wrote a post “Over 70% of Social Media initiatives FAIL“. I received more personal responses on that one post than on all posts I wrote in the past 5 years together. It inspired my to write this response to the overarching question: “What shall we do“.

No project success – No Reference

The consequence of failing projects – beyond the fact that it failed: here goes a potential reference customer.
Agencies have to come to a bitter realization:

Taking a print brochure to the web was an important transition
Taking a webpage and share it with friends is meaningless

Tens of thousands of agencies and social media consultants struggle to run their business. The social web is just NOT what so many people think: “just yet another marketing channel”.

10 things successful agencies do differently

Successful teams think entirely different and help their business clients to think through the entire chain of implications of a social engagement rather than just selling followers, fans and a page. And this is no different whether it is a 25 people small business company or a 25,000 employee global enterprise. Continue reading “Thousands Of Social Media Agencies/Managers At Risk”

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Pan European Social Media Effort

We blogged about this project before and I thought I give an update. For those who don’t know: The European Commission in Brussels initiated a program called “Digital Agenda Europe” and within this initiative 8 focus groups of which one is Social Media. Based on the overarching goal of a program called “Europe 2020″ we created the following objective for a Social Media Strategy proposal which we will present to the EU Commission June 21 in Brussels.

 

Objective

Stimulate small and medium size businesses and innovative start-ups across the EU leveraging social media to create a sustainable growth, additional jobs and being able to compete in a global market. Specifically we want to double the number of businesses, actively engaged in social media who created new jobs, year over year till 2016

Continue reading “Pan European Social Media Effort”

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How to get executives fully comprehend Social Media?

I guess you all rationalized that Social Media projects are typically difficult to close and painful to execute if executives are not well aware of the impact of Social Media to their business. The single biggest problem is that most executives do not speak your language.

Getting your or your client’s executives to understand Social Media has become for many the single biggest obstacle. Even if you have a good story, they may not trust you – but they may trust the Social Media Academy. SMACAD is trusted by executives from ADP, Dell, Salesforcce.com, SAP and many others. Based on our own experience dealing with world class executives, we created this brand new executive program: “Social Media Business Essentials” for executives and top executive consultants http://bit.ly/smacadsmbe $395 incl. certificate Continue reading “How to get executives fully comprehend Social Media?”

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New Social Technology Tools & Latest Innovations

Silicon Valley remains to be a phenomenon when it comes to technology innovation and startups. And Social Media is no difference. XWeek is an initiative from XeeMe Inc. helping users around the world getting a view into those technology boosters before they become as well known as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or lately Pinterest. Every other week users will be introduced to a new technology or new product, being able to hear from entrepreneurs what the vision of their company is and where the industry is heading.

XWeek also helps startups to get additional exposure to the market and to people they may not know.

This week XWeek is introducing Twylah

a very interesting summary and publishing tool to re-purpose your Twitter content

Continue reading “New Social Technology Tools & Latest Innovations”

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Network democracy or kingdoms

Kingdoms ruled the world for the past thousand years. People either lived in one of those kingdoms or were essentially outlaws or gypsies. Those who belonged to any of the kingdoms had to obey their rules or needed to leave to find a new place. That was very hard as you had to leave friends and family behind. When I hear from friends they are in twitter jail or even worst their account were blocked it reminds me on those kingdoms where the king decided the rules and their guard just executed whatever they felt is not right. One of my contacts tried for 3 month to get his Twitter account back and then finally created a new one – without knowing why. I had such a situation 3 years ago. Our Social Media Academy account was erased by Twitter and I had no way of knowing, getting in touch or getting an answer. Continue reading “Network democracy or kingdoms”

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Certification 2012 – Advanced classes

After three years educating applied social media for business we decided to make some important enhancements to our certifications and classes going forward. The adjustments are reflecting  attendee feedback, evolving market requirements and to homogenize graduation terminology.

While we were initially focusing on social media consultants who basically were able to participate full time in the 8 week highly intensive crash course class, we are now getting a significant amount of attendees from corporations who need to go through the program while working in their respective jobs. At the same time we want to prepare attendees for the growing demand in social media strategy work and needed to add more content and intensify group collaboration and project work.

As a result we restructured the program as following:

1) Social Media Basics – An all new class

After 8 years of social media it is obviously much harder to start and become successful than just 2 years ago. This class shall help people who need to learn all the basics and ramifications of social media for business. Attendees learn about the general purpose and objectives using social media for business, opportunities and risks, tools and networks, behavioral aspects, how it can help build a better customer experience, better customer support, better product management, improve marketing and reduce cost across all departments. Attendees learn to setup their own social presence and realize the differences between personal and business use.

* No entrance exam required.
* 4 weeks online lessons and workshops.
* English or German language classes available
* Classes are held 3 times a year or more
* Company specific classes available

 

2) Certified Social Media Manager – More Knowledge, more practice

This class combines the previous Social Media Manager and large parts of the Social Media Strategist class to reflect current market needs. Requirements to be a Social Media manager have grown significantly in the past year and the new class reflects that demand. The Certified Social Media Manager not only learns to execute a social media strategy but also to be part of the strategy development, be part of a social media audit and support the resource planning and budget process. In addition a Social Media Academy Certified Social Media Manager need to earn the certificate by being part of a complete social media project from strategy creation to program execution, budget planning and resource allocation. A certified social media manager is trained to take a social media strategy in a mid size or larger corporation and executes such a strategy in the most professional way. The new program provides additional know how on social media monitoring and social media crisis handling.

* Entrance exam is required.
* 8 weeks online lessons, collaborative project work and workshops.
* English or German language classes available
* Classes are help three times a year
* Company specific classes available

 

3) Social Media Strategist – More advanced, more project work

This class is an advanced class, requiring the knowledge and methodologies learned in the Social Media Manager Class and actually being able to create a enterprise level social media strategy. This class has the remaining components of the "old" strategist class including HR, Human Talent Development, creating a social media strategy practice within a consultant organization or an enterprise as well as more intensive workshops with real life projects to be worked on in a collaborative manner. The strategist class also includes advanced lessons on social media analytics, social media crisis management and social media strategy variations in B2B versus B2C. The Social Media Strategist class is now a 6 month education program.

* Social Media Manager certificate or an intensive entrance exam is required.
* 6 month online lessons, extensive project collaboration and workshops.
* English only
* Classes are help once a year

 

4) Social Media Team Associate – Training the executing work force

Also this is an all new class and addresses the need for businesses who have well educated social media manager or social media strategists and need to train team mates in Product Management, Sales, Support, Marketing or PR. Attendees of this class will be from companies with a defined social media strategy using the SMACAD strategy framework. Attendees learn to develop programs which are defined by the Strategy Hexagon and are based on the Four Quadrant Assessment model as well as the NCP model. Attendees will learn to create social selling initiatives, customer experience improvements, crowd sourcing programs, social marketing initiatives, social media augmented service and support programs to be used in a cross functional social media engagement. It is highly recommended that attendees with no social media background will take the social media basics class before joining the Social Media Team Associate class.

* Entrance exam is required.
* 4 weeks online lessons and workshops.
* English or German language classes available
* Classes are help twice a year
* Company specific classes available

 

5) Social Business Master – The new leadership program

This class is currently in preparation and will be available starting in Fall 2012. The SBM program will take 2 Years / 4 semester including all aspects of social media for business. The goal is to educate future business executives to lead an organization strategically into the social business era including more effective go to market strategies, more successful sales engagements, market integrated product planning and development, customer integrated support strategies, partner integrated social media engagements and more. The SBM will learn to apply methods, models and frameworks in strategy development as well as hands on exercises to know what it takes to create and execute the measures leading to a successful engagement.

* Entrance Exam is required
* 24 month online lessons, project work and workshops plus 4 class room days.
* English only
* Classes starting once a year in Fall

 

The most significant change in the market compared to 2008, when we started with the Social Media Academy is the level of engagement in the social web as well as the evolving behavior. The number of users has grown from roughly 200 Million to over 1 Billion. Twitter has grown from a few hundred thousand to over 200 Million. Tools like Quora, Foursquare, Google+ didn't exist or were barely known. Other tools made way to newer more innovative products. The demarcation between personal and business presences have become very blurry or resolved completely. Executives learned about the significance in cost reduction and increase in customer satisfaction and the "elite networking technique" became a commodity.

 

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