The article originally appeared on PR Daily in March, 2015.
Many PR and marketing agencies are still using social media ineffectively—for their clients and for themselves.
Social media is still suffering from the “hot new thing” syndrome. Clients need it and agencies say they can master it, but neither group knows why they are using it or how it plugs into the business side.
Here are 11 things agencies should accentuate when it comes to social media services:
1. Listen more and talk less. Agencies continue to overlook the No. 1 required first step of social media: listening. Not only is this detrimental to their own businesses, but agencies also hurt clients by not providing them the first step in building an effective social media program.
Listening is where it starts, and an agency that doesn’t show a client why this is important shouldn’t be surprised when that client decides to part ways.
2. Effectively communicate through content . Agencies need to show clients how to communicate with audience through content, and not market at them through social networks.
Everyone can tweet, but building a true connection with people is where real value lies. This won’t happen without good content, and this is why listening is so important. It helps clients better understand what kind of content they should be providing.
3. Provide education, not just training. Clients shouldn’t be paying agencies top dollar just to learn how to blog and update their social networks. Clients should want to better understand why they are doing the things recommended to them.
Agencies that educate on the why—not just the how—will be truly helping their clients while separating themselves from the competition.
4. Practice what you preach . Put yourself in your client’s shoes. Would you hire an agency that recommends regularly providing effective content, building communication bridges with your audience, actively listening to your competition and industry and measuring ROI when it does none of this?
Agencies need to execute the best practices they preach.
5. Adopt social media across the company. Does your agency demonstrate how social media works beyond marketing your brand? What about customer service, HR and recruiting, sales, internal communications, IT, technology and web development and more?
Agencies should be aware of the increasing importance of encompassing a client’s multiple business touch points within social media campaigns.
6. Use less isolated tactics and more integrated strategy . Agencies who provide things like a Facebook or blogging strategy are just a few steps away from being snake oil salesmen.
Available online tools are tactics that are part of the overall strategy. Agencies better be able to put the moving pieces together, and complete a full social media road map for their clients.
7. Be a second or third pair of eyes . One of the best ways to be successful in social media is to help; clients may be overwhelmed with the strategy you provide. As an agency, you need to help your client and lead by example.
Maybe you’ve been listening to your client’s competition and you have an idea for a great content piece. Share information you come across that relates to their business and demonstrate how you would share it on their social networks.
Don’t just hand off the strategy to your client and walk away; be part of the process. They will remember this and refer you when others ask who helped them with social media.
8. Robots are out; humans are in. As social media matures, so do its users, and they will expect and demand authenticity from the sources they trust.
Agencies that champion the auto-publication of content don’t understand social media. If this is the only method of sharing content you believe in, be prepared to see less business.
9. Stop being vague with your social media language. As David Meerman Scott said, it’s time to stop talking Gobbledygook.
Agencies should stop the use of social media buzzwords like engagement, relationships, influence, buzz and more. Using these words in a proposal only cheapens your credibility. Speak the language of your clients and show them how social media fits in their world.
10. Increase the value of your clients. Building a lot of social media activity for clients is easy, and too many agencies see activity as the end goal.
However, getting clients to be seen as helpful resources in their respected fields should be the main goal. Increasing the social media value for your clients creates longevity for not only their brand, but for yours as well.
11. Make ROI happen. It’s one thing to talk about ROI and why it is important, but it is another thing to show a client how their social media efforts are tied to business results. Even harder is showing the client how they can track this.
Agencies better be able to tie in results for all the social media work they’re charging for. Clients will demand it—and if they aren’t, they should be.
Social media as business component is maturing fast. As it becomes more of a necessity and less of an add-on service, it will be increasingly important that agencies mature their offerings along with it.
What other social media principles would you add to this list?
David Moncur is the principal and visionary of Moncur. A version of this article originally appeared on the ThinkMoncur blog. You can connect with him on Twitter.