Social media is maturing and becoming a core part of business for many organisations. Should it managed by an agency or is it better looked after in-house? We spoke to Rylan Holey to find out what he thinks. Ryan is a music blogger, a cellist, a member of the London Philharmonic Choir, speaker at #smlondon LIVE!, London operator for #FollowTheSun and of course the EMEA Partner Manager at Hootsuite in London.
Check out this week’s podcast interview below and be sure to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.
Do brands need agencies for social media?
I think where we saw social really, really accelerate has been largely through agencies. I think they were the ones who saw the capabilities of social first, for brands. And they were the ones that said, “Look, we should be doing this. You need to innovative. This is a great way to reach the audiences. It’s an interactive, existing audience.” And because of that, they’ve got a lot of advantage and a lot of knowledge around social.
Social has moved a little bit more in-house, whereas in the past, you would see a lot of agencies doing complete outsourced work for community management, the whole process have been in one agencies that’s changed. Agencies are still being involved but in a different way. And to answer the question; brands still need agencies for social. The reason why I say that is because agencies are the one that are able to create the content which makes a much more impact than often anything that can happen, anything that can be done by in-house.
What could go wrong when an agency runs social media for a brand?
I think there’s several things. A lot of agencies have different ways of working, but I think from a branding point of view, if I put my in-house hat on, I used to work client side for a law firm in the city, and my fears of handling over stuff to an agency to do community management for a law firm, for example, would be there’s a little bit, people were at risk. So giving access to a social network without having any knowledge of what they are writing for example, maybe a lot of people in agencies, it changes quite regularly. The workforce in agencies, so people can leave and they potentially have the passwords and all these kind of stuff.
And then also on top of that, it’s about the voice of the brand as well. How can you ensure that the agency is consistent with your brand voice?
What role should agencies be looking to play with brands?
I think the important thing that agencies really need to focus on is moving more into the consultative space. Taking what have they done from advertising and different marketing, all of that, and taken that skill set into necessarily here, where they’re looking at creating content… Well, first, strategising how an organisation can manage social across the business, so one thing that if you can look at… Actually one of the other pitfalls I was going to mention was around the cost of social being outsourced. So as social is spreading across the organisation, I think what would also happens was that agencies were starting to do customer service more and more. But that becomes quite a big cost for, not only for the agency but also for the clients when there’s a big team, potentially, at the client side that can do a lot of the customer service. You’ve got to find ways, as an agency, to help the client be more efficient around customer service. How can you, as an agency, help triage the conversations to the right people, and how can you bring that all in light with an organisation key business objectives.
Should the focus be on producing content, rather than daily management?
We’re seeing in this industry now, this battleground forming, let’s say between the traditional consultancies and system integrators, those are the likes Accenture, Deloitte, KPMG, who have seen the opportunity here, because this is their bread and butter, the consultancy side of things. Helping organisations transform digitally is massively important. And these guys have bought digital agencies to pick up their offering and actually build out teams which can deliver this kind of transformation on a digital level and buying these skills in. At the same time, we’re seeing the likes of Ogilvy, SapientNitro, DigitasLBi, the big agencies and the big agency groups who are also doing the same thing, who were kind of buying into this consultancy space, delivering more consultancy outside of traditional advertising and helping organisations transform, because I think its key for agencies to help their clients transform, because the sooner they can do that, the more data they could collect about everything.
So imagine if you’re a brand and you were able to… If you’re a bank and you managed to get every employee in your organisation to share content. And I know Link Humans was talking about employee advocacy. If you’ve got all of your 50,000 employees to talk about what you’re doing every day and the deals you have, the loans or the great stuff that HSBC does, for example, you’d be able to tap into a much wider network. And you can potentially have more data about the audiences out there. So I think the potential is huge for agencies to really help organisations on this path to being social businesses.
What will happen next in the social media space?
One of the things I’m really interested in, is around employee advocacy for sure. I think the opportunity of a brand to be able to empower everyone in the organisation is going to be enormous. Maybe not for every brand, I can’t see it particularly that successfully unless it’s for HR, for example. But someone like Hootsuite, B2B, is going to be huge and agencies need to be all over this, because not only can they tap into a much wider data set, they can also help with the transformation part, the education part.
If you’re a brand and you’re able to empower every employee to be able to share content in the right way, then you’ll be able to collect much more, have much larger reach and be able to effectively tap into networks of networks which is a bit of a Holy Grail. You have your own best influencers in your organisation. And I think it really helps, not only on an employee branding side.