Pitching Social Media: Key Takeaways I’ve Learned In 6 Months

It’s hard to believe that it’s only been roughly 6 months since I left Microsoft for the agency world. In that time I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and all the planning and strategy work is starting to pay off as the last few months have had me constantly driving new business for the firm.

At Strategies 360 we have a unique approach as we combine public policy & government relations work along with the communications, marketing and PR work that traditional agencies focus on. It’s been a learning curve for me as my background has primarily been focused on B2B and B2C clients. That being said, there are some definite key takeaways I’ve gleaned over these past few months that I thought might be useful to share.

Social media (as it exists today) is still in its honeymoon phase. What I mean by that is that for all the millions of users that use SM on a regular basis, most if not all of the clients that I have pitched come in to meetings having no clue how to use social media for their business or organization. While most people certainly know how to use the Facebooks and Twitters of the world, there is a fairly large disconnect on how to use these channels to contribute to business objectives & goals. Most client pitches I develop must include an initial education piece in addition to selling our firm. Quite frankly this is one of the areas of my job I enjoy the most.

What to charge for social media is all over the place. Many agencies are still trying to figure out the right pricing models for social media work. The biggest challenge is that the social media engagement piece can not be automated. It requires real people responding in as close to real time. That can be a lot of man hours, and sometimes clients fail to realize what can be involved. In addition, many social media CRM & reporting tools are still evolving allowing agencies to manage multiple clients more efficiently. Mack Collier does a great yearly wrap up that includes some research that sheds some light on the subject. Every client’s specific needs can vary quite a bit, but SM pricing should start to become more consistent as the dust settles.

Most (if not all) social media plans are heavily dependent on a strong communications plan. My team works extremely close with out communications/PR team on a daily basis. Our ability to deliver on results oriented social media strategies does not come without heavy contributions from our communications team. From editorial calendars to blog articles to reviewing social media engagement, having a communication team to partner with has been invaluable.

Of course I’ve learned much more then these 3 takeaways, but these are the ones that have stood out the most for me. I would love to hear from any of you that are in the agency or service world and what you’ve experienced as well.

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Comments

  1. says

    So, I definitely hear you on the fact that it’s in the Honeymoon phase. Nice name. 
    I’m right there with you. I’m having to first actually explain why social is something they should be doing, and what it really is. Then sell myself. 

    Pricing certainly is everywhere. Read Mack’s price points, pretty solid stuff, but I don’t see there being any set functional price structure that we all agree on across the board, any time soon. 

    So agree on having a solid communications plan. I mean, behind it all, that’s what this is. Communicating in a way that creates lead gen, and other business goals. 

    Thanks for posting this.

    • says

      Thanks for stopping by Ryan.  The pricing thing has definitely been a challenge for us.  I think what we’ve simply gotten comfortable with is not selling ourselves short and ensuring that we deliver on the value we propose.  We certainly get turned down here and there on price, but rarely on competence.

  2. Cassie Kilroy Thompson says

    Another key in social media is to make sure that timely responses are grammatically correct, with no spelling errors. Calendar is spelled wrong in your post {vbg}

  3. Dipal says

    That is interesting and amusing. Thought SM would be pretty much ‘experted’ by most out there but I feel a lot still remains to be discovered. Love the part where you have strong PR and content teams to support the SM effort… something we try and do here in India as welll!

    -Dipal

  4. Jonathan says

    As your partner in crime I must demand that you include top-notch creative to intrigue and drive the conversation deeper throughout your audience. (We do that at Strategies 360 too) 

  5. Anonymous says

    It’s great to hear you’re enjoying the new gig so much! I agree with you – the Gap is still quite wide between folks who simply use SM, and those who actively employ SM in order to create real business value.

    Got me thinking-  I still see lots of folks on Social Media panels, or at conferences, who always seem to have an exact ‘right answer’ when asked specific questions about SM value, strategy, or the future. 

    Frankly, I wish more of our SM peers felt comfortable saying ‘I Don’t Know’ a little more often. Or are there really that many experts this early in the game?

    Of course there’s a certain baseline level of understanding anyone working in the SM space should have, but I sometimes feel we make it harder for our clients to close that gap of understanding when we don’t communicate “Hey, we’re all in this together” in regards to the learning curve.

    Are we being anti-social as we push out our own boundaries of SM understanding? Great post Jason, thanks!

    • says

      Couldn’t agree more Jamie.  Anyone that says they know it all or has all the answers is fooling themselves and doing a disservice to their clients.  Plenty of folks out there that are super talented and know quite a bit, but too much is changing day to day to know it all.

  6. Anonymous says

    I agree Jason, social media definitely is still in the honeymoon stage. 

    I find most clients tend to have that “deer in headlights” look. They don’t know which way to go, but they just know they have to do something. So not only do I have the opportunity to be a strategist, but also an advisor and trainer. It can be quite gratifying.

    • says

      Can relate on that one for sure.  Taking an educational approach has done very well for us.  We want our clients to be in the know as much as possible.  Makes it that much easier to maintain a longer lasting relationship.

      • Anonymous says

        I also find that clients fear what they don’t understand. So without including training or education, you won’t have a long term client or can run into a bit of resistance.

  7. Treding says

    Great post and certainly timely.  I’m constantly asked about “ROI on social media” and the question is typically asked with a slightly accusatory tone.  Have you explored a comparison of investments in traditional marketing platforms (ie. print advertising, radio, television, etc.) and new, social media outlets?  I certainly re-enforce the differences, advantages, weaknesses, etc. but wonder if we couldn’t do a better job comparing the financial structures?

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