Working in digital media has always been about staying informed. Every new day brings with it a new industry development, whether it's a corporate merger or the launch of a new marketing platform. Without a doubt, one of the biggest challenges digital agencies face is following the evolution of social marketing.
By now everyone in the business should be an active participant in social media by setting up accounts on social sites, experimenting with new platforms, and building a good list of people to follow on Twitter...but are they? Facing a busy work schedule and urgent client work, many digital marketing professionals don't have time to read every social media newsletter in their inbox. They have enough on their plates without trying to catch up to an industry that never stops moving. The problem with this is that social media is now a critical part of every digital marketing professional's work. It doesn’t matter if you're a project manager, a software engineer, or a senior copywriter: Social media touches every aspect of a digital media campaign.
For the sake of your clients, who rely on your agency to be informed on social trends, you must make social media education a daily part of agency life. Here's how.
Tap existing expertise
Most digital agencies have an in-house team of social media marketers -- or at least a partnership with a social media agency that works closely with planners and buyers. It's safe to say this segment of your agency will always be informed. So why not tap its expertise and use it to educate others? Assign the task of getting your agency up to speed to one of your in-house or partner social media specialists, and challenge them with finding unique ways to teach their colleagues. Spread the word within your agency that this individual will be the go-to guy or girl for any questions. By assigning the job to a single employee you can maintain a dedicated social media presence in your shop, while making it easy for others to seek out social media information as it relates to their respective departments and roles.
Establish training workshops
You train your marketing professionals in all manner of new technologies to ensure that your agency is on the cutting edge. Why not train them in social media, too? Host a monthly workshop that addresses a specific aspect of social media: Executing a contest on Facebook, for example, or incorporating Instagram into a branding campaign. Send out a company-wide invitation to the event such that employees can select those workshops most relevant to their work.
The odds are good that you can find an in-house expert to share a personal campaign experience as it relates to, say, sponsored celebrity tweets. The odds are even better that at this very moment someone else on your team is wishing they had more information on this exact subject. Distributing existing internal knowledge to others in a streamlined way can improve new businesses pitches and current projects, and even inspire strategies for future campaigns.
Capture social media buzz
One of the ways that agencies stay competitive is by understanding their clients' market. What new campaign has a rival brand launched? How are others in this category using new tools and technology to get ahead? Tracking social media news isn't just about the latest marketing opportunities. It's also about the greatest campaigns.
Agencies can deliver information on both by capturing social media buzz in a weekly e-mail digest. Even if all it amounts to is a plain text message and a handful of links, this kind of internal correspondence can do wonders to keep your team up to date. Delegate this job to the same social media specialist who you've put in charge of corporate education, and ask them to round up the most valuable social media news as it relates to your agency and your clients. A typical update might look like this:
- In-house social media news (e.g. a new social media initiative launched by your agency for a client, or a corporate marketing effort to promote your agency online)
- A social media recap (e.g. new social network features and technology, campaigns launched by your clients' competitors, social media campaigns worthy of note)
For a social marketing expert who lives and breathes this kind of news, pulling together a weekly newsletter like this takes little time. But it can provide a ton of value.
Corporate blog posts
Each digital agency has its own approach to thought leadership, but many have taken to maintaining a corporate blog as a way to put business acumen on display. This is an ideal place to showcase a specialized social media skill set for the benefit of both your employees and your clients. At our agency, for example, we maintain a rolling submission process for our corporate blog, such that any employee can at any time contribute a blog post based on his or her area of expertise.
Call on your social media specialists to write posts describing social marketing best practices. Since posts will be publicly associated with your agency, it's prudent to assign a copywriter or content marketer to edit all submissions, just to ensure that entries are up to snuff (though in this day and age of consumer-generated media you'll probably find that your staff is well-equipped for this type of assignment). You can even include a link to the latest blog post in your weekly social media buzz update for all to see, and send it out to clients directly.
Adopt an open-door policy
It doesn't matter if your office is an open-concept space or if each department is only a flash-drive's throw away: Unless you encourage employees to let their colleagues sit in on their brainstorming sessions, they're likely to keep to themselves. To combat knowledge silos, suggest that those well-versed in social media allow those who aren't to hang around. Sitting in on one or two brainstorming meetings a month will allow those still struggling with social marketing to gain new insight and perspective. It's an easy way to share information, and might just result in a sense of solidarity among agency peers.
Boosting your agency's social media IQ isn't as difficult as you might think. All it takes is a few experts, a little effort, and a willingness to learn.
Steve Glauberman is CEO and chairman of Enlighten.
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