What does it mean to be a social media agency? In fact, what does it mean to be a media agency in the age of consumer control? The media agency of the past is facing distinction in the current format.
The old formula of obtaining a client brief, presenting concepts, picking the campaign winner subjectively is over. Not to mention then choosing media distribution channels. While conducting this process over six months is outdated, and soon to obsolete. Speed and adaptability is the new weapon of choice for the social media agency.
This traditional model is no longer sustainable. Not for a brand that is competing in the new media economy. And every brand is.
While the above formula will continue to apply for short to medium term, there are three primary variables that will shift and alter the market significantly. Making existing media agencies and campaigns obsolete in their current format and with it many traditional media channels.
The first - significant shift is that of the consumer. The consumer no longer is without an opinion or lacking the capability to influence brand perception. Social media agencies understand this and look to leverage this position.
In fact, the consumers' view is now intrinsically linked to brand performance. And the world's best creative will no longer protect a brand from inferior service or a poor product. Regardless of the media budget. In fact, for those who do not fully grasp social media, a higher budget can amplify brand issues.
This does not mean a brand should avoid social media, in fact, doing so will ultimately mean the demise of their company and product. Uber is good at social, the taxi industry is not.
Conversely, a company with superior customer service and product will be able to leverage this position.
In essence, this means that all marketing dollars no longer carry the same value. If you allow me, I liken the comparison to the US dollar Vs the Australian dollar. Technically they are both a dollar, but as we know the US dollar buys more than the Australian dollar presently.
Two extreme examples of this would be Uber and Tesla. Both innovative companies with market-leading solutions, and underpinned by excellent service. They are both creating consumer evangelists in the physical and digital world. And their growth rate is nothing short of extraordinary.
Uber is now the largest private company in the world with a valuation of $120 billion dollars. Bearing in mind that Uber is just over nine years old.
Tesla is changing the car market. Companies such as GM and Ford will end up fighting for their very existence. Just like Blackberry and the I-Phone we are witnessing Tesla's tipping point to mass adoption. Consumers ordering 400k Tesla Model 3's. Name one other car company in the world's history who has achieved this on the launch of a new car?
No marketing war chest is going to save the Taxi industry or the traditional motor vehicle manufacturer.
Every brand is now connected to consumer amplification. And the modern social media agency understands the consumer is now part of media distribution consideration.
The second - area is data vs. creative. A traditional media agency will take a brief from a client. Then come back with some concepts, select the winner (subjectively), and then distribute on the chosen media platforms.
Even if the creative is exceptional, distributing it on a platform where no one is paying attention, will mean the death of the campaign.
It is often impossible to determine if the creative influenced anyone's purchasing decision. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but that is what they are, exceptions, and rare anomalies.
For a social media agency, the data proves in the creative. How is the consumer responding to it, and what actions are being taken. A social media agency can now follow the path all the way back to conversion. Whether a purchase or another agreed client measure.
Providing detailed feedback regarding performance, attribution, and measurement. Potential reach is no indication of return and a traditional media approach. Who may have seen your ad (reach), vs who actually acted on it (social).
Bearing in mind that only 3% of a given market is ready to buy at any one time. However, there is a more substantial part of the market in the awareness or consideration stage. Traditional one-off "campaigns" failing to bring this segment into the funnel. As a result, every time a brand runs a new campaign they are competing for a mere 3% again. This fails to leverage an audience and cumulative targetted efforts.
By tracking the data and building a targetted audience, we know what is working defined by conversions. We can create a repeatable formula based on success. This means that while 3% of the "active" audience are targetted, we are also building a cumulative audience. In turn, this will lead to higher long-term conversion and lower conversion cost. A brand is not a campaign it is a business that sells 365 days a year. All and every piece of data is critical to moving the brand North.
Data is now defining creative competence. This is the real measure of a creative agency and brand performance.
The third - area that all competent social media agencies understand is distribution. Traditional media is no longer the media. Distribution has changed forever.
Facebook continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. In the last F8 conference, Facebook reported an active daily user base of 1.5 billion and at a hold time of 51 minutes. The only other media platform in front presently is Television.
But unlike Television the path to purchase on Facebook is seamless and immediately available. Additionally, should you come across a new brand, product or service you can immediately like their brand page. You then become part of the audience receiving some or all future updates.
From a marketing perspective, this is ideal. Because if you remember the other 97% of consumers I mentioned above, this moves them clearly into the accessible funnel. You get to educate them and move them towards conversion.
You also get to learn who your ideal client is as opposed to the perceived client.
With new ad formats arriving all the time on the Facebook platform. The ability for a brand to story-tell on Facebook is greater than any other media channel.
Facebook Canvas allows you to include video, long-form copy, images, carousels and soon lead forms.
A social media agency understands how to story-tell using new media. While a traditional agency will need to bring separate silos together to adjust to an environment, they do not understand.
When all is said and done the only thing a brand should care about when advertising is, are the ads converting! Based on actual data, and are we building our funnel for continuous conversion.
This is how a business grows in 2019.