Social Media & Content: The One Team One Interagency Dream.
When it comes to social media and content creation, it’s a dogfight out there. It’s media agency Vs. PR/experiential agency Vs. digital agency Vs. creative agency right now for that piece of the pie. And each of the above feels that they can do it best. As they all approach it from different slant that’s derived from their origin. This is causing difficulty when it comes to some brands and organisations that require interagency teams.
The ideal world (dream) scenario is that an interagency team works together in a complimentary and fluid way, and each stakeholder sticks to what the retainer/contract states that they provide. However, the role of who “does” the social media and content is not always set in stone for many brands and organisations. When it is clear who does what, things can work well and having multiple agencies feed into ideas from their area of expertise adds substantial value. When it’s not, it’s uncomfortable for everyone.
No one is to blame for this lack of clarity and comfort. The social media and content space right now is the most competitive space in advertising and marketing. Everyone wants a piece of it. And some are better placed and better equipped to approach it correctly than others, and then there’s some that probably have an unfair advantage.
You’ve got media agencies. Their “creative” social and content ideas tend to be format and frequency driven. They regularly treat social as a channel purely for reach — just like TV. This approach is fine for awareness and some retargeting that drives conversions, but from what I’ve seen, engaging creative and deep level audience targeting takes a back seat. And a large proportion of their social strategies, media plans and outputs could be viewed as “short-term marketing”; driven by the appeal of looking at real-time data markers — despite preaching that long-term campaigns are approximately three times more effective.
From a business perspective, I get why a lot of media agencies want to focus on formats and frequency on social, rather than on good creative rooted in strategy that will cut-through and help to build the brand. It takes a lot of person-hours to really do paid social correctly and there’s not a huge amount of money to be made versus a deal for TV or a paid partnership with an online publisher. To shift from ‘thinking broadcast’ versus thinking about genuine engagement (no, not ‘likes’ or tagging friends in competitions) is also an entirely different headspace from the daily status quo.
Then you’ve got PR/experiential agencies. There are many PR agencies that are fantastic at activational social and content. They’re great for a four or six week campaign that will get cut-through as opposed to always-on brand building social media and content creation. They’ll create buzz by involving some influencers and ambassadors around an event, and that’s great for some brands. However there’s a watch-out. There’s been some poor “influencer” content created and pushed for some big brands recently. Content that’s so bad that it’s definitely doing some brand damage.
There are benefits to using carefully selected influencers as long as they are a good fit for your brand and the content they create/co-create ladders up to your brand, campaign or product… but there’s also a lot to be said for spending that influencer campaign money on a plain old good creative idea that’s pushed on owned and paid channels. If that owned content is good enough, 99% of the time it will be more effective. Again, strategy — from the core business objectives to understanding core audience behaviour and preferences for consumption are often lacking.
Then you’ve got digital agencies. There’s continuous talk of dropping the word “digital” across the industry because “digital should be embedded in everything we do”. Some people have even predicted the end of “digital agencies” and stated that full service agencies can do what digital agencies do best. This is simply not true in most cases.
The knowledge of how digital, tech and social/content coming together can help a brand to drive conversion and bring people down a funnel to purchase online is powerful. That’s what a couple of the good digital agencies have.
However, the missing ingredient for media, PR/experiential and digital agencies tends to be the bigger brand thinking and quality of creative output. At TBWA\Dublin, we strongly feel that social media and content should be creative-led, with input from our digital and technology department, and heavily rooted in strategy and insight.
If this is done correctly you can build long-term effectiveness, help to build brands, achieve things such as increased NPSs and have a real effect on revenue for a business in the digital and social media space.
The one team one interagency dream should not be a dream. However the reality, and it’s only natural as we fight for business, is that it’s broken when it comes to who does what in the social media and content space for many brands and organisations. Brands and organisations need to be clear on which agency’s responsibility it is and then all of the interagency teams must row in behind this decision.
Most agencies are good at what they do and we all want to do the best work that’s effective for our clients — so if we get the one team one interagency reality to be one of help, support and added value, it’s going to be better for everyone.