8 mistakes companies do when working with an agency

You’ve decided to step-up your brand’s marketing communications, especially in the digital space and you’ve picked already the right agency to work with. To make the collaboration smoother for both sides and to make sure you reap the ripest fruits out of it, I have listed below a set of experiences which thought my team as well as my clients what to avoid and what to improve. 

  1. Giving agencies ambiguous briefs and KPIs. An example that pops into my mind right now is that of a venture capital fund, reaching out to us saying they want to be on Facebook because everybody else is. Yes, that’s a good reason but beyond that, a company should seriously think of its busines goals and which of them can be supported through social media communications. Just being there may not help you too much. It can actually damage you. Think of what  you’d like to achieve as a company and give the agency real targets to reach before you venture into a partnership. 
  2. Not announcing initiatives way in advance. Every campaign, in order to be successfull needs serious research, a great deal of creative brainstorming and meticulous planing before the actual production and implementation. I had personally worked with a company within the hospitality industry, whose owners decided we should create a social media campaign and advertise a big event just two weeks prior. It happened in other cases that they wanted me to create a big buzz around concerts happening the very next day… or publicise things which have passed already, missing this way their momentum. 
  3. Buying just a piece from the whole pie. Business owners need to know that an integrated communications plan works better. It’s way more efficient. We had several clients reaching out to us for social media services. When looking a their broad communications, we noticed that they had outdated branding, a weak website, no press exposure and so on. Creating content for social media needs to be based on something real and needs to be done with a purpose. If there is no PR, no events, no blog, no website, no press, no offline activation whatsoever then your social won’t reach it’s potential. 
  4. Lack of transparency. A while back I managed social media for a government organisation. The leaders wanted social media services but they were actually unwllling to communicate much about who they were and what they were doing… out of fear of bad feedback, out of fear of loosing control by disclosing too much information, out of meere secrecy over their activities and so on. We all need to face this now: the world has changed and social media is not just another propaganda channel. 
  5. Playing it (too) safe. When it comes to their established brand some are afraid to innovate, whether this means for example going for digital campaigns through chatbot or through digital games, or simply testing new social media channels, or out-of-the-box creative content solutions. The digital landscape is changing fast and the generations of digital natives are watching and they are not waiting. Don’t be afraid to experiment, do something that others don’t and be one step ahead.  
  6. Lack of patience in seeing results. A social media community can’t be grown over night. And building trust and genuine relationships with your customers or audience will take ongoing efforts. Instead of thinking how a one-month campaign on social will elevate your image or sales, think of how many initiatives one can activate during one full year to help you reach your goals. 
  7. Ask for accountability. It’s OK to trust, to give up control and let the agency handle your digital work, but make sure you follow it closely and ask for full reports, including metrics and qualitative content analysis for your campaigns, as well as advice on how to move on and improve.
  8. Not taking the advice. A few years back I worked for a client – a concessionary building a deep water port, a project stretched over many years. The PR plan included social media communications to interact with the local communities, affected directly. My agency was struggling to work with the company, to create a good story line, and valuable content… until image crisis hit and they were forced by the media and other stakeholders to take the advice we had been already giving them many times, to save their reputation.

I would love to hear if you found this article useful and if there is anything else that you would add to the list.

By Andreea Zaharia, Digital Director

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