Over the past couple of weeks we have been establishing our business social profiles, expanding our reach to obtain the audiences that we want. The thing is, we've come across some things that, to put it lightly, disturb me.
We've known for quite some time that there were a number of agencies offering commoditised marketing services. X number of daily social posts for £149 per month and build a website for £500 sorts of places. We've always thought, fair enough there is a market out there for that sort of service, after all Joes Plumbers are unlikely to want to spend massive sums on marketing.
The thing is, as we link up to the multitude of agencies out there, we're uncovering more and more of this sort of approach. You just need to look at the rise of brands like fiverr and what they are doing to the creative industry to sit up and take note.
We say in the heading that this commoditised marketing is destroying true value.
Here's our reasons why (looking at it from a social media only perspective).
It's the wrong way to buy social media management: Take two brands, one is full of content and has constant news to talk about, the other is in a slow moving industry with not much business news on a day-to-day basis. If we were approached by these brands, our first step would be to audit their brand, work with them to establish goals and then tailor an offering that is bespoke to them and their audience requirements. We'd establish roughly how many posts we think would work best for them and we'd test multiple scenarios until we found the best mix for the audience and brand budgets. Ultimately we build a best-fit solution for each client. If we then take the commoditised approach. In this scenario the brand makes that decision when they buy into a pricing plan of X posts per day whether their brand/audience warrant that or not. That could mean either far too much repeat content in the example of the brand in the slow moving industry or not enough for the brand that should be buzzing on social media. Quite simply, it's back to front.
It's quantity over quality: We were always told, if the price is too cheap there has to be a catch somewhere. We can only imagine the same is true in this scenario. If you take the business model of £150 per month to run your social profile you have to question how many clients each person must handle before they can pay that person's wages. Even if they are a junior on £16k a year they'd need to take on 10 clients themselves just to break even and in the region of 20 to make what the company would see as a decent profit once you take off the overheads. That's a really scary thought... Brands are handing over their front-line marketing to a junior with 19 other clients to handle on a daily basis. How will they ever understand the brand/industry well enough to do it justice?
It's the difference between having to and wanting to: Our approach to every client relationship is based on us being able to allow our clients to realise the value that they can get from a great social media approach. But by using a commoditised approach the agencies never get around to demonstrating the value in social for their clients, they are simply doing a job that the client doesn't want to do themselves. it's like somebody doing your shopping or washing your car, a job you don't want to do but it needs to be done. There's no real value-add other than time saved. For businesses where this is the view of social media, we suppose this sort of service offering is fine. We'd much rather try and let a client see the potential of social media than simply perform a tickbox exercise for them.
We have never personally used one of these agencies, and to be honest never will. It's just not an approach that resonates with us. Just as fiverr is devaluing the entire creative process, we think this approach to social is devaluing what we do on a daily basis. This isn't about agencies ruling the roost over client budgets and charging them over the odds, it's simply about doing the best job that we can for that client's brand, not simply taking their money to deliver a service. Whilst services like this remain the entry point for a number of smaller brands looking to take their first tentative steps into the social world we fear that they'll never actually get to realise their social potential. The result is that they will either turn their backs on it entirely or become disillusioned by what they see as a value-less service. The moment that a marketing agency stops providing valuable expertise we think is the moment it stops being a marketing agency and moves to being a factory.