Why Social Strategies are Difficult for Agencies to execute?

Many agencies today are offering Social Media services (if they aren’t they need to). But for many of them it is often hard to architect the strategy since so much of the knowledge of ‘who to go to’ for ‘what type of Social Media conversation’ is very internal knowledge.

A good Social Media strategy starts with looking at what Conversations you want to engage in, what Objectives you have for engaging in those conversations, what Strategy you will have to fulfill on those objectives and finally what Technology you will use to get there.

In order to plan that out for a client, the agency can work with them to get a sense for the Conversations a brand should be engaged in, what Objectives they should have for engaging in these conversation, what strategy will best fulfill on your objective and what technology to use. But where Agencies typically are challenged is on the “who” part of the equation – “who” will be the person best suited to represent the brand for a particular type of conversation.

Agencies have to get internally savvy fast to navigate the waters of an organization and this typically doesn’t happen overnight. Or perhaps they need to find the “super connector” within the organization who can help them articulate who to go to as point of contact for those conversations.

So when you are working with an outside agency on helping you with your Social Media strategy the best place to focus your efforts to help them is in the identification and recruitment of strong personas who can represent your brand in some very specific conversations.

12 comments to Why Social Strategies are Difficult for Agencies to execute?

  • Dario Diament

    In my opinion, agencies will need to start working as software companies.

    Imagine a company needs to create an ERP system for it's organization and hires a software company who will design their solution based on what they think the company works.

    A Social Media campaign, requires understanding the company from both inside and outside. The internal culture, the information flow, who can be responsible of answering the compaints from the new door to be open on social channels like twitter or facebook. How's the relationship between customers and the company, why people buys, how people uses the product.

    That's not something you learn just from searching at twitter or blogs. It's all about the intangible culture that has been developing since the company started offering their products to it's new audience.

    We should move from a brief-pitch way of work, to a more long-term relationship of mutual understanding.

  • Mohan Kumar

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  • Paul Dunay

    @ Dario – Great point – its almost like they need to become part of the fabric and culture of the organization

  • Paul Dunay

    @ Mohan – thanks for the offer to guest post – I prefer to post on this blog

  • davidblanar

    Agencies are not well-placed to deliver on social media strategy, it is not what they were set up to do and they cannot sustainably execute whatever they propose.

    Agencies are exceptionally efficient at delivering advertising and the Promotion P of the 4Ps. It is a conundrum for brands: you cannot outsource social media, brands must develop the capability internally.

    The market's rules, not mine.

  • Paul Dunay

    @ David – I agree a new agency model must emerge!

  • Alexandros Poulos


    Great point! The "Who" part is a very pragmatic issue that comes up in the execution of a social media strategy sooner or later.

    Some of the cases we have run into:

    1. The organization does not really have the culture to seriously engage in social media despite having put together a strategy.
    2. The organization does not make it a priority to execute on their social media strategy (as opposed to their more "traditional" marketing plan activities like direct lead generation).
    3. There is no clear plan or know-how within the organization on how to assign and manage social media resources.
    4. There is no person with the right qualifications (knowledge, attitude, personality, willingness) within the organization to engage in social media.
    5. The right person to engage does not have the time to do it on a regular basis.

    All this means that sometimes the marketing agency has to also educate the clients on how to approach the issue of finding and managing the right personas for social media engagement. In our experience, bringing up this issue upfront and planning for it as part of the overall strategy with the client is a good way to make sure that the "Who" question will be addressed in the right way.


  • Wayne

    One of the challenges is to get larger organizations to allow the social media agency/consultant to get 'inside' their organisation and close enough to the culture to be able to adequately understand it.

    Typically, it take a new employee several weeks or maybe months to get to grips with the culture of their organisation. As consultants we'll never have that time luxury, but it does highlight the degree to which we need access to the cultural elements within.

  • Paul Dunay

    @Wayne – thats a very good point – thanks for sharing!

  • Toby Bloomberg

    I agree a new client/agency model is needed when it comes to social media. Unlike with work done with traditional media, where the client happily gave management of the relationship to the agency, with little or no ill effects, relationships in social media are most often with customers and prospects. Those relationships no brand should give away to a 3rd party no matter how much they understand the company.

    The challenge becomes how to help your client manage their social web initiatives while ensuring client-customer relationships remain in tact.

  • JSkroly

    I think it is important to note that Social Media should not be looked at as a standalone tool to achieve a company’s business objective, but part of a larger multi-channel solution. Once the business objectives are indentified in partnership with the agency, internal resources can be deployed to manage the social media component, whether it is customer service, IT, Marketing, etc.

  • Paul Dunay

    @ Toby and John – I like where John was going with the whole idea of not looking as an island but a strategic partner who can help you achieve your business goals

    I think next year you will see more and more involvement in social in OTHER areas of the company

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