4 Possible Functions for an Agency Social Media Consulting Team

What is one of the things that makes Apple customers so loyal to the brand?  Customer Service!  No matter the problem, hardware or software, you can call one number to get your problem resolved.  You can even schedule the time for them to call you so you aren’t on hold.  Contrast that with PC owners who experience the battle of Hardware vs. Software where they are handed off from one company to another.  So why don’t advertising agencies take this approach?

I have spoken with several Fortune 500 companies and advertising agencies over the last few years about social media. I am amazed by the attitude of companies that social media is free and by agencies who see no revenue benefits.  One agency actually said, “Social media is something our clients want to do themselves.”  I asked “And you see no potential for them to have contradicting messaging from what you are developing for them or the potential of them damaging their own brand?”

Here are a few reminders where social media has adversely affected a brand:

Intel (December 2007) – Intel publishes an ad that many find racially insensitive and blogs start the message that is picked up by the media.

Motrin (November 2008) – Mom’s make Motrin a trending topic on Twitter as they discuss their dislike of an ad that suggests wearing a baby in a sling or other carrying device is little more than a fashion statement.

Dominoes (April 2009) – Two employees make a YouTube video as a prank that goes viral and creates a major PR problem for the brand.

Nestle (March 2010) – Greenpeace attacks Nestle for their use of palm oil which they claimed was destroying rain forests.  The attacks lasted over 2 weeks.

Intel (May 2010) – Protesters begin to post comments on the company Facebook account and the company response is to delete some postings and later shut down their page which only fuels the controversy.

PriceChopperNY (September 2010) – A customer tweets his dissatisfaction with the store and an employee takes things into her own hands.  Despite that, the brand is the one connected with the attack on the customer.

Wachovia Bank – A quick review of their Facebook and Twitter account show that whoever is in charge of their social media needs training.

What is a possible solution?

Agencies need a Social Media Consulting Team.  This team will have the following objectives:

1.  Provide a basic education course to clients with many areas the team could provide further service.

•    Discussion on needs for a strategy and integration with other marketing messages
•    Discuss needs for policies and employee training
•    The need for research on the changing social media environment.
•    Discuss areas of improvement with existing social media work

2.  Provide a basic education course to non-clients

•    Same as above but provides the ability to highlight the agency’s work.

3.  Provide additional social media consulting work with both existing clients and non-clients.  This helps open a door for the agency to access new accounts.

•    The team could provide research reports on social media trends.  With the rapidly changing adoption of social media by the various generations companies need to know how this affects their communication plan.  By providing this service to multiple clients the agency can provide this service much cheaper than if they each do it themselves.
•    Assistance with monitoring social media for potential crisis.  The team could be the expert in identifying those key words required for search.

4.  Provide a crisis reaction team that is available 24/7.  What can help solidify a relationship more than helping them avert or minimize a potential crisis?

Providing a service to clients that in many cases they don’t realize they need will help them as well as bring in additional revenue for the agency.

By the way, about the agency that stated their clients do their own social media, I read an article two weeks later that one of their biggest clients had hired a social media agency.

Do you think there is a need for agencies to develop some sort of consulting team?

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