Ad Agencies: What has social media done for you?

How can an agency help a client monetize their social media when they don’t have a handle on how to use it for itself? As more-and-more agencies jump on the social media band-wagon, clients are beginning to ask them, “what has social media done for you?”

Gone are the days when an agency can get by “talking the talk but not walking the walk.” Clients will be able to discern between the agencies that truly get social media from the ones that don’t with just a few clicks of their mouse.

That said, does your agency have a social media strategy or are you winging it?

100% of our clients are online and all they have to do is take a quick look and they can easily tell that most agencies have no plan with regards to social media. Agencies may have a blog, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, but those accounts tend to hide behind the agency name and tend to be blatantly self promotional with little value to an undefinable audience.

Not only is it clear agencies have no definitive audience (everything to everybody) but there is no integration, no overarching strategy to reach viable goals and objectives.  It’s like most agencies have a “check-list” of social media accounts but no plan to make it all work.

“Agencies are going about their social media strategy bass-ackward. They are selecting the most popular to-date, social communications technologies instead of focusing on what they want to accomplish.”

Your purpose should dictate strategy and the tactics used for reaching desired goals. A few common outcomes for your social media marketing efforts should include:

  • Gain insight into your target audience – You can use all the qualitative data you want, but some of the most interesting and helpful market research can be found within the social communities where your prospective clients interact, share information and make recommendations.
  • Link building for traffic and SEO – According to Marketing Sherpa, 80-90% of business to business transactions begin with a search on the web. Creating link-bait and promoting it to social media news and bookmarking sites can attract a slew of links from bloggers that read them. Creating value for the community is not the only rule, creating value and behaving according to formal and unwritten rules is what sustains social media sourced link building.
  • Build brand visibility and authority – You’ve heard it before,“Conversations are happening online about your agency’s brand, with or without you.” You might as well participate and do so in a way that pays close attention to the interests and needs of your prospective clients – providing them with information and interactions that further support your agency’s brand.
  • Connect through content. Almost 95% of recent purchasers said the solution provider they chose “provided them with ample content to help navigate through each stage of the buying process.”   Publishing the right content and making sure it gets found in the right places is a vital component for your new business strategy.

Start with a plan. I propose that  agencies demonstrate a competency with this new communications channel by using it for effectively for themselves by creating a social media plan with the objective of creating qualified inbound leads. Fuel their new business pipeline in a way that is sustainable when the agency is at its busiest.

A few agency social media success stories:

  • “We just landed a significant project with Coca-Cola purely through our sustainable marketing niche. The best complement we could receive was when they said our price was waaaay more than the next bid, but given our background in green marketing and sustainability, that it was worth the extra investment. Finally, a value over price purchase. Love it” – Park Howell, president of Park & CO
  • “Just thought I would let you know. We are participating in a pitch tomorrow for another national account. This opportunity is 100% related to our agency’s new positioning through our blog,” – Stephanie Holland, president, Holland + Holland Advertising
  • “Kudos to all! Our social program is generating leads and business from around the world. Earlier this year got a client out of Australia and currently talking to a company in Japan that follows me on twitter” – John Sonnhalter, CEO, SONNHALTER
  • “We have 24 new social media clients since we launched our blog 4 months ago. We also have an opportunity for new business with a national bar-beque chain” – Ron Wheeler, president, Wheeler Advertising
  • We just had a meeting with our second largest client today. They put their account up for review a few weeks ago partly I believe because we are only recommending traditional media and our work was stale and automatic. I used the meeting to interject some of my learning about new and social media. And was able to give very direct answers about the value of a social program to their brand. As he was summarizing his learning from the meeting, our client turned to me and said, “I didn’t realize you knew so much about “virtual media” (his term for social and emerging). I realize we are not using you to your full capacity. Two months ago I woke up scared every morning because I knew our agency was falling further and further behind on social and emerging media. Today I know we are at Mile 50 of a 1000 mile journey, but I wake up each day with a new determination knowing that we are on the right path” (prefers to remain anonymous).

And a few client social media success stories:

  • StormHoek Wines increased their sales by 400+% after sending wine to bloggers, inviting them to blog about the wine (good, bad or indifferent).
  • Burpee Seeds created a daily relationship with customers through RSS feeds on gardening news, tips and coupons, increasing sales 400%.
  • BlendTec’s Will It Blend videos increased their sales by 500%.

What has social media done for your agency? Please share your successes in the comment section below.

Here are some additional helps:

About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.


  1. As a way to build relationships with our community, we recently partnered with a local deli and launched a Lunch On Us promotion which is helping our advertising agency gain more traction in local social media circles, while introducing us to key players in our surrounding areas. The increase in twitter followers, facebook fans and blog readers is building our brand visibility and authority, and we’ve realized that by following a strategy plan, we’re able to help our clients in the social media realm better. Good read!

    -Murdoch Marketing

  2. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Great post. Messages and design should be driven by the agencies purpose. Delivering on that – they can help brands create worthwhile communications.

  4. Thanks Isaque.

  5. Social media has put Jaci Russo and The Russo Group on the map. This Layfayette, LA agency is generating national attention. One of the most recent, Ad Age has asked Jaci to become a contributing write for their Small Agency Diary. Check out her first article:

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