ad agency

5 Things Your Social Media Agency Isn't Telling You

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According to eMarketer, Social media ad spends will reach $37.7 billion worldwide in 2020. That’s more than double the $15.6 billion that was spent in 2016. Suffice it to say that social is still growing and is showing few signs of slowing down. But with that growth comes a glut of self-proclaimed experts or, heaven forbid, ‘gurus.’ How do you avoid putting the keys to your castle in the hands of an idiot? Take a look at what they’re not saying.

1.     The number of fans/followers you have doesn’t matter. Once upon a time, you could post an adorable cat meme to your social pages and watch the engagement pour in from your legions of fans. Today, not so much. Having a bunch of fans/followers is now akin to having a bunch of friends who never hangout with you. Organic reach now hovers around 1-2% for most brands across channels (meaning 98-99% of your fans never see your content). There are exceptions, including publishers (think The New York Times or The Onion) and celebrities (think DJ Khaled or any Kardashian). But if you’re a business with a product to sell, odds are you might still be spending a lot of time and money on acquiring fans who will never see what you post. And yes, that now includes Instagram.

2.     Twitter is useless. Twitter stock once sold for $69 per share; today it sells for $40 - and was once as miserable as $15. On the flipside, Facebook once traded for $18 per share (in 2012) and now trades for $184. Why? Because Twitter sucks if you’re trying to grow a business on it. Their ads are more expensive than their social counterparts (and less capable), the platform is less used and less engaging, and the volume of content is so abundant and disorganized that even if you did post something spectacular, chances are no one saw it.

3.     90% of purchases via social (FB) come from users who never click an ad. Facebook released a conversion lift test in 2015 that was designed to show the true impact of ads run on the platform, beyond what could be tracked by clicks. What they found was that users who saw ads from brands in markets where no other media was running were still buying things from the brand, even though 90% never clicked on the ads they saw. The takeaway? Don’t judge the success of your ads based on clicks alone – look at the bigger picture, and evaluate your media holistically instead of in a vacuum.

4.     Your business probably doesn’t belong on Tik Tok, Tumblr, Twitter or even Pinterest. Not every shiny new social toy is right for your brand. This tends to plague many businesses who have an inferiority complex about their ability to market their business. Instead of being a master at one or two social channels, they spread themselves across several and instead fail at all of them. Look long and hard at what your business does, and who it sells to. And select your social channels accordingly.

5.     If you’re posting every day, you’re posting too much. The reality is that most businesses don’t have that much to say, and that’s okay. Brands were posting across channels nearly once per day or more a couple of years ago, but as of late, we have actually seen brands posting less often, but with higher quality. This has helped per-post organic performance, but it’s also a reaction to social becoming almost exclusively a pay-to-play space for brands (if you want to be seen, you need to run ads). Specifically, that means a brand could theoretically only post once or twice per week, but be far more impactful than any brand posting on a daily basis because their ad budget allows them to go beyond their own pool of fans, and at scale. So, less is more.

Agree or disagree? Leave your comments. And if you’re interested in talking more, email me directly at david@dbpluspartners.com. Thanks for reading!

The Death of the Ad Agency

By David Berry: Something big is happening in the ad agency world. That thing? Agencies are going away. They are dying.

A 2016 Wall Street Journal article summarized it well: "Many big marketers are [sic] moving away from “agency of record” deals—retainer-based relationships in which a single agency was responsible for most of a client’s projects that in some cases lasted decades."

The agency of record model has been around since, well, forever. It's the model Don Draper used.

Hey, it's me, Don Draper. I used the agency of record model. And I might be out of a job if I was still working in 2017. But damn, I'm handsome.

Hey, it's me, Don Draper. I used the agency of record model. And I might be out of a job if I was still working in 2017. But damn, I'm handsome.

As advertising has shifted away from traditional media - radio, TV, print - and into a more scattered digital space, things have changed. Brands need more content, more often. They need strategic thinkers and they need consultants with expertise in video campaigns, display media, SEO/SEM and so on. Each varying need requires a unique skill set, and many of those skills don't exist in great depth at the agency level.

So, outside consultants - particularly in the digital space - have come in to bridge the gap. The role of the consultant has grown, because of their narrow expertise and agility, while the strength of the agency has declined because their expertise is less defined. They've become less agile too.

So what does that mean? Brands are putting agencies to the test. They know that the ball is in their court. They're challenging agency partners to work on leaner budgets, and sometimes to receive compensation only on a performance upside. Accenture, Deloitte, EY and KPMG (the 'big four' of the consulting world) are scooping up the specialty work that the big agencies haven't mastered and - in the instance of Accenture - are actually buying up ad agencies to bolster the creative side of their own businesses.

The net-net is this - you, as a business owner or lead marketer, do NOT need a big ad agency to solve your problems, though they'll likely try to sell you the benefits of having it all 'under one roof.' The reality is that they're likely skilled in a couple of areas, and doing patchwork to make up for the rest of it.

What you actually need is a goal. You need a handful of experts working to get you there. And in most cases, that's it. 

And if you're an agency, the key to your success going forward will be in specialization. Agencies like DDB have already made great strides in doing this, or have at least worked to make their teams more agile and mobile to better serve client needs. Agencies that can pull that off will be just fine. But those who are still using the model of 10 years ago? They won't be here in 10 years. In fact, they'll be gone sooner than that.

- DB