16 Signs That Social Media Isn’t Working for Ad Agency New Business

sixteen signs social media isn't working

If your agency’s social media participation isn’t generating traffic and new business leads, it is important to know why. 

How can an agency help a client monetize their social media when it doesn’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 without walking the walk.” Clients will be able to easily discern between the agencies that truly get social media from the ones that don’t with just a few clicks of their mouse.

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 often hide behind the agency name and tend to be blatantly self promotional with little value to an undefinable audience.

Used correctly, social media makes new business easier not harder. It is an incredible communication’s channel for easily generating new business leads and creating personal networks far beyond your local market.

No traffic + no leads = no new business.

Here are 16 signs that most likely indicate your social media isn’t working for your agency:

  1. No social media strategy, no plan. 60% of companies using social media have no plan. I would say from my own experience that is probably true of most agencies.
  2. No clear objective for using social media. The first step in creating a social media strategy for your agency, you MUST have an objective. I suggest it should be for new business.
  3. There is no focus on a particular target audience. The second step in creating in a social media strategy is to identify who you are trying to reach.
  4. A lack of positioning for agencies. The FOUNDATION of an ad agency’s new business program is its positioning.
    “The common failing among agencies seeking new business is the inability, or unwillingness, to name what they stand for,”Bob Lundin, Agency search consultancy Jones Lundin Beals. Social media provides a great opportunity to showcase how your agencies are different.
  5. Agencies using social media for blatant self-promotion. Credentials and capabilities belong on an agencies website but shouldn’t be the driving force of their social media program. Social media should be centered around benefits.
  6. No integration between blogging, Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. When the majority of agencies finally ‘jumped into’ social media, they just jumped in with a check list of channels. Yes we have a blog, Facebook Fan page, Twitter account and LinkedIn. But there was no convergence, bringing them together into a single social media strategy.
  7. Agencies are waiting passively for prospective clients to come to them. If you build it, doesn’t guarantee that prospects are going to come.
  8.  Many agencies lack appreciation for those that are willing ambassadors for your agency.  Zig Ziglar’s statement, “You can have everything in life that you want if you just give enough other people what they want.”  His philosophy works well in the arena of social media.
  9.  A lot of social media efforts fail because of the lack of value/benefit for the intended audienceYour audience will be your judge and jury as to whether you have an appealing position, post titles that spur interest, content that is beneficial.
  10. A lot of agencies obviously don’t care about anybody but themselves. To successfully build an online community, you must staf focused on the perspective and interests of your prospective clients. You have to genuinely care about their challenges and obstacles.
  11. There’s no SEO strategy for your agency’s social media presence. According to Marketing Sherpa, 80-90% of business to business transactions begin with a search on the web. A CMO survey, 80% of decision makers say they found the vendor, not the other way around. “Content Doesn’t Win. Optimized Content Wins” – Li Evans, search marketing guru
  12. Your agency’s social media ship has no rudder. Getting your staff on the same page and keeping them there is like  herding cats. Empower the person charged with your agency’s new business to keep your social media efforts focused and directed.
  13. Followers instead of leaders. Most agencies are still using social media the way the early adopters of social media intended. Instead of pressing the envelope for lead generation and networking for new business. This in no way means that you are SELLING.
  14. A mindset of income first. Just like in our offline networks and referrals, it’s relationships first. People want to work with other people that they know, trust and like.
  15. Attending offline events such as trade shows and conferences without inclusion in your agency’s social media efforts. Social media has transformed offline events and can maximize the personnel connections with prospective clients. Your involvement with blogging, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can change your whole experience.
  16. No social media training for their staffs. According to a recent 4A’s and Arnold Worldwide survey, 90% of agency staff say they have to figure things out on their own due to the lack of training.

Additional social media + ad agency new business articles that may be of interest:

photo credit: VancityAllie via photopin cc

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. Nice breakdown for loopholes in social media marketing. Like you said having no plans or any strategy is like going to a battle straight after waking up.

  2. How timely, and refreshing this article is for me. Last week I began creating an ad agency list on tweetdeck (please don’t kill it twitter) I was surprised to find such a lack of, not only SM understanding, but also basic use. Try it – compile a list of 50 ad agencies and try to find them on networks. Few were on twitter, some on FB, and a handful on linkedin. Many had awful web sites and most had blogs from 2008 or none at all. Four out of 50 linked to networks from their site and several had no idea what I was talking about when I called. I concluded, right or wrong, the ad agency mind set is talking at others not peer-to-peer and therefore foreign to this group as a whole. Am I wrong? Great post. Thank you

  3. Randy, Unfortunately you aren’t wrong. Your description of ad agency participation is accurate for the vast majority of small to mid-size agencies.

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