2008/09 was a landmark period for the Indian social media industry. It was the beginning of a discovery phase, when Social Media burst on the scene and became a vital ingredient of every marketer’s roadmap.
Equipped with traditional IT experience, curiosity in our minds and no background of working in an agency, we started Iffort in early 2010. It’s been more than 6 years and during this time we have seen social media become mainstream and an integral component of our livelihoods.
Many agencies scaled on all fronts by raising funds and were eventually acquired by larger ad-agencies. While some agencies ended up shutting-shop, few agencies like us continue to fight, stay bootstrapped and happy.
So here are some learnings and observations:
Core Social Media Agencies do not exist anymore
The days of specialist social media agencies are far but over. There was a time when clients didn’t understand the basics of content and diversity of life in 140 characters. Those Facebook posts were a fad few years ago, not anymore! Back then it was a need and lack of understanding which was why they needed a partner who could make them grow and sustain presence across these mediums.
But today, you cannot aspire to be an agency which thrives only on the content/graphic skills. Agencies have now expanded to become digital where social media is one of the core competencies. On the other hand, there are agencies that are specialists in either content curation, videos or even influencer management.
When we were young – A pic from 2010
Life beyond Facebook or actually not?
‘We must look at Snapchat and target groups on WhatsApp’, how many times have you heard such phrases during your client meetings? Judging those discussions, one knows that there is an urge across marketers to try new platforms as they are unaware of the potential & the outcome. However, those big numbers of half a million fans appear huge and don’t let them focus outside the Facebook ecosystem for long.
Despite the dipping reach of organic posts, there is an inclination towards the Facebook news feed as that’s where everyone spends most of the time time. This is where, today’s agency needs to look beyond Facebook in their marketing funnel.
The Misnomer of Hashtags & influencers
Sometime back, the social media executive in your team used to gaze at the left-panel on your twitter feed with the hope that your hashtag trends. That feeling of having your client’s hashtag trend across India and sometimes worldwide was inexplicable. The social media manager in your team, proudly used to boast of trending feat and it was quite a skill. But today, the whole definition of trending campaigns has changed. Hire a bunch of 20 year-olds, who are often called as Category B/Category C influencers, pay them by the tweet and they will ‘tweet’ out of their skin to ensure your hashtag trends.
You will also get recommendations on days and time-slots to target. Brands continue to pay these influencers and work hasn’t stopped yet, but think about the end-value these influencers are helping you with. Do they have an opinion which is strong enough to impact their followers for your brand? More specifically do these trending hashtags create any visibility other than garnering the attention of twitteroholics?
Collaboration is the Key for Campaigns
Digital campaigns have been in vogue and agencies frequently dish out micro-portals, run contests and give a bundle of freebies to engage with brand’s follower community. Brands pump in money for the concept & execution and then amplify it further with a media plan. That said, campaigns which run in silo have limited reach. Joining hands with other partners, gives additional wings to the core idea of the campaign.
While it is a challenge to balance the needs of partners, brands have become more open now and are willing to collaborate in stakeholder capacities where they are joint campaign partners. The value of new age social media agency comes from identifying such partners and bringing them on-board.
Let Brands Do Social Media In-house
The learning curve of brands on social media has evolved immensely. As a social media agency, you should be very specific about the scope of engagement not just in terms of the number of channels but whether you really want to day-to-day social media management. For instance, if you’re managing social media for a retail store, one would expect testimonials of happy customers and other real time info.
Since the social media executive sits out of agency’s office, the operational workflow for content sharing needs to be crystalized. There’s more value an agency can offer as a strategic social media partner in-terms of ideas, roadmap and more. Being a social media agency doesn’t necessarily mean content management.
Re-produced with permission from Daksh Sharma