Hearing the professional term social media marketing agency, can sound both confusing and intimidating. A seemingly corporate atmosphere ready to give your business a face online – how does that work?
The reason it works, and very well we may add, is because within each agency lives a team dedicated towards you, your brand, and your voice. Behind the office walls there are teams in rotation putting together your content and branding. Just like you, they can’t wait for the creative material to give live.
As there can be various styles (or types) of social media marketing agencies, we’re going to focus on the creative agencies that work more with advertisement material (versus agencies that focus on media and media buying). If any of this still sounds like gibberish, that’s okay! Because we’re going to walk you through the ins and outs of a social media marketing agency. Helping you decide if this is an avenue you wish to take your brand or idea, as it pertains to the digital and social realm.
The Agency’s Internal Set Up
While many people associate the internal team of any advertising or marketing agency to the characters of Mad Men, there are similarities and there are differences to those who work at a social media marketing agency. Essentially, each agency comprises itself of of both departments and teams. The department roles specify your trade and the work you output for both the agency and the client. Whether you’re client facing, customer facing, a creative, or work with outside vendors such as photographers and designers – you add value to the overall project or content piece. Each category of a social media marketing agency has their own specific trade or concentration, that build up to the final outcome.
After breaking down each category, there are teams. Teams are usually made up of at least one individual from each department. From there, they get assigned a particular project or brand to be extremely well versed on – this includes: knowing the brands style, branding, tone, audience, etc. The team becomes extremely close to the brand and act as an essential production house for the brand’s content.
Below, we dive into each career category in an agency. Each description will go over their specific job title and listed responsibilities while working at a social media marketing agency.
People who work in the account department, are the agency’s go-to resource when communicating with the client or brand. The account role can sometimes be a double edge sword, because they’re people trying to keep both their agency happy while simultaneously keeping the client happy. So the art of communication, and setting proper expectations with communication is crucial.
Usually, the account team will be the first department notified about a product or brand brief. From there on (depending on the specifics of the social media marketing agency’s internal structure) will act as the project manager before reaching the production stage. They’ll bring the client’s product brief to the internal strategist to review and align with current digital and social markets to create an internal facing campaign, product, or branding brief. At this point they’ll oversee the creative briefing and be involved in reviewing, and presenting the creative work to the client before beginning production. After capturing the creative content, the account team will work with editors, producers, creatives, and the client to align on a final content piece. In social, these pieces can vary from: online video, images, and blog content (just to name a few).
The masterminds behind the wit, design, and overall look of a social media campaign. Creative teams, take product and brand fundamentals and turn them into pieces of art that are absorbed and often beloved by the public.
There are several people who make up a creative team. First there are the art directors, these are your graphic communication specialist. Working within programs like inDesign and Adobe photoshop, they’re able to create beautiful renderings and art on the computer to share digitally with potential customers or consumers.
Next are the copywriters, their the ones who can take a technical product brief and make it understandable to the public. Their way of altering language to create relatable content that add layers of wit, humor, and emotion is a special talent. In particular, when it comes to social marketing, there are certain tones and even character limits to work with. Even with these parameters they’re able to write awesome work.
Overseeing both the art directors and the copywriters are the creative directors. They’re the veterans of the creative field and have a great deal of experiencing launching social marketing campaigns. Before presenting any creative work to the account team or clients, creative directors review the work and make sure it aligns with both the agency’s quality of work and the brand’s overall tone, voice and guidelines.
There are many things that make a social media market agency different from a traditional one, and one of those factors are the inclusion of community managers. Think of a person who is a mixture between a customer service representative and the most knowledgeable reviewer on the internet. They not only publicly endorse and represent the brand on social spaces, they keep up with current trends and create in-moment content calls that are suitable for the time and trend. These are also the people who will monitor if there is any negativity behind a subject matter and help address the situation. In cases, they may call on the brand’s PR firm or publicist to help smooth over any potential mishaps in the online space.
A great brand to look at, that has excellent community managers, is Oreo. During a Superbowl, the lights went out from a power failure. Moments later, Oreo released digital content explaining – “you can still dunk in the dark.” It created so much buzz content for the brand, and sparked an online communication community. Even now, it an execution still being talked about. That’s a great example of how a community manager engages her environment.
When community managers are setting expectations within the current trends, strategist are helping see the trends of tomorrow. Through both social listening tools and organic search, strategist at a social media marketing agency, must be knowledgeable in every new avenue of every social platform. When Instagram is making an update – they’re the first to know. When SnapChat first opened up to brands – they were the first to know. In addition to staying current and ahead of the times, strategist must make a product or service relevant to the current space. They must find the ideal consumer and set the stage to tell a story. If the creatives are actors in a performance, think of the strategist as the set coordinator. There’s no way to move from point A to point B without a strategist guidance and assistance.
Hollywood may make the idea of being a producer sound like a life full of glam and power, when in reality it’s one of the hardest (and sometimes most thankless) jobs in the entirety of the social media marketing agency. While the detailed and specific job descriptions vary from agency to agency, producers that cover digital and social work can sometimes be brought in from the initial briefing or into the back end of creative presentations. In our opinion, it’s always helpful to have production involved as early as possible, as they’ll assist the creative in manage expectations when it comes to budget.
A big misconception, is the producing work for digital and social media marketing agencies are cheaper. This couldn’t be further from the truth – in fact, it can prove to be more expensive. In a traditional agency you fill a TV spot with a thirty second clip and then lift a fifteen second spot from there. With digital, you can have anywhere from two minutes to five seconds (with a majority of different media behind each). The producer’s job is to make sure that a director or photographer (for still life) is given a bid, stays within budget, and finds an accompanying editor to finish off the spot or photos well.
How A Social Media Posts Is Made
While many of us like to think there is a singular creative mastermind sitting behind a computer and creating the fun and witty content for each brand. The truth is, that there are over dozens of people and handoffs to ensure one social media post goes live. Below, we’re going to review the complete process of what happens to a post before it appears on our newsfeeds. While some post may be different than others (like repurposed or sourced elsewhere), for the sake of the below breakdown, we’re going to go through a relatively traditional process of content creation inside a creative social media marketing agency.
Stage One – Receive The Product Brief
Some background on product briefs, depending the product or the campaign, this brief can either vary from the traditional product brief (meant for outlets like magazine print ads, television commercials, and radio) or be identical. If given the same The difference between a merging traditional and digital (which includes social) marketing brief would be in the deliverables portion.
The first step of any marketing piece, is the client producing a product or campaign brief. The brand or client will walk the agency through their overview, details, and deliverables, along with the desired demographic and potential user/customer. This is where the agency will ask any clarifying questions before taking the brief internally.
Stage Two – Create A Strategic Brief
Once the brief has been vetted through the account team from the clients, it’s now time for the agency’s strategist to take a look. Their primary objective is to correlate the product briefs’ demographic and the communication, tone, consumer objective, and behavior the potential customer prefers their brands to have. They then reformat the brief in a creative friendly manner that is laced with the main strategic objective (keeping the deliverables untouched from the client).
Stage Three – Brief The Creative Team
With the updated strategy brief, it’s now time to bring on the creative team. The assigned team of art directors and copywriters (with the help and guidance from executive creative directors), will be briefed onto the project and will begin coming up with ideas to bring the product to life. The creative team, especially in a social media marketing agency, have a true art of creating genius work with ties of pop culture, relatable references, and new ways of thinking. If there are multiple deliverables, it’s more likely that they’ll come up with one overarching creative concept and break it down to different variations of creative executions. Creative work will then be presented to the clients and be approved in rounds. Once the work is final approved, it’s ready to move into production.
Stage Four – Move Into Production
This step can vary from project to project, especially when dealing with a social media marketing agency. Pending budget and deliverables, production can mean a lifestyle of product photography, computer graphic (CGI animation), and even digital videos. This is when a producer will big out three (typically) different directors or photographers to send in their direction from the creative work. A finalist of the three is chosen and the campaign is captured on either film or photo with creative direction from both the art directors and copywriters.
Stage Five – Move Into Edit
Once the creative content has been captured by either a photographer or director, it no longer belongs with them. The creative content’s raw files are then moved into editing. For video, this is in the editing house where they place together takes from filming. If it’s photography, it moves into retouching. As typically content from a social media marketing agency doesn’t need to be exported at extremely high resolutions – it does not need to spend a huge amount of time in retouching. The agency’s creative team
Stage Six – Traffic To Social Networks
As soon as the editing is complete, and the client has given their approval to move forward, the content is then released to the associating social platforms. With the help of the digital producers and account team, the content is exported to the proper specs and uploaded into their respective systems.
Waiting On Approvals
Through the six stages, there are a large number of both internal agency approvals as well as client side approvals that are factored in to both the timeline and production schedule. As every aspect of a content piece is moved up the chain of command, it can get tricky when trying to hit certain deadlines and release dates. This is why, it is crucial when running a project to be upfront about expectations when it comes to approvals. Below, we’ve described how both the client and agency move through their system of approvals.
When it comes to a social media marketing agency, each department (described previously) has a chain of command. Depending on the level of importance each project must be moved through various layers of approval before releasing to the client. Most notably, the creative concepting and production are heavily vetted and approved at each step. This may cause setbacks, as a version of a creative piece may make its way all the way to the top of the internal creative team only to be reworked and started over from the beginning. This can create chaos for the client as they may be comfortable sticking with a given timeline. It is then up to the account team, to relay that a project will be delayed as it wasn’t the agency’s best work. Setting this expectation is important, as it showcases an agency values the brand’s core voice and value just as any other employee working at the brand.
As it goes in any client relationship, the customer is always right, and there’s no exceptions when working with a social media marketing agency. Unless, the creative team falls on their sword for a particular project, the content execution is based upon the approvals of the client and the associated brand team. Again, when accounting for timelines it’s important to be transparent in the amount of revisions the schedule calls for as well as the time period they have to review a creative piece. By including the client in every step of the creative project, the agency is bettering their chance of creating social content that fits the brand’s needs perfectly. Versus showing final concepted work that can be turned down right away.
Working With Social Media Networks
Both the agency and the client have a working relationship with social media platforms when a brand has a presence online. In addition, depending on the amount of dollars spent on a particular outlet, the more engaged a platform is. For example, if a large amount of money in the budget is allocated towards a social media campaign, a brand will receive a personalized representative as well as presentations every so often with best in class creative executions. If an agency or brand, is at this level with a social media network, it’s crucial to let them in on every approval of the creative process. They’ll help guide the project into the space online it should be in – additionally the networks will let you know of budget concerns or if the general concepting doesn’t work for their particular platform (i.e. what works on Instagram may not work for twitter – and vice versa).
All Things Legal
Working with a social media marketing agency, can give the brand the comfort it needs if they have a legal team internally or one they consult with. While a brand should always have their own legal representation as it pertains to their product or services, agency’s legal representation should have a grasp on how how legal workings happen as it pertains to advertisement and media. Some examples of include: substantiation (making sure the claims made in the brand’s ads can be backed up by research, studies, etc), affidavits (ensuring that the product or service is actually used while creating the content. An example, if working for a makeup brand, an affidavit is needed from the makeup artist to ensure that product was used to create the look), as well as handling production buyouts and residuals (this ensures that a company will not be sued by either the actors, models, directors, or photographers when running their content online).
Benefits of Working With A Social Media Marketing Agency
The pros of working with a social media marketing agency outweigh any cons, in fact are there any cons? On top of the dedicated teams, buttoned up creative process, and the implemented checks and balances to ensure the brand is running smoothly and everything is being protected, there’s more benefits to working with a successful agency. Below, we’ve listed three of our top reasons it makes sense to hire an outside agency to handle your social media marketing needs.
- You leave the marketing up to the experts. Your brand should be focusing on the quality product or service that has earned itself a name. That process in itself, takes up a great deal of time, energy, and effort – so why take away any of those resources to fixate on marketing applications? Instead trust the social media branding to the experts – because they know what their doing.
- You’re able to incorporate new ways of thinking, that still speak for your brand. In the same regard it’s common to ask for an outsiders opinion, it’s best to hear someone else’s point of view outside the walls of your brand. In turn, they’ll utilize your values while bringing in a new light and air to the brand’s voice.
- You’ll always receive perfection. As we mentioned before, there are several different departments that all go through several different approval process’ before the work is even shown to the client. Given all these layers, plus the additional layer of client feedback, it’s almost near impossible to not receive perfect work to showcase on the brand’s social platforms.