An open letter to 'social media agencies'

If you run social media for a company you are going to receive lots of sales calls. Period. It can be tough to decide which agency to go with and why.
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor

Dear prospective agency of record,

Thank you for your interest in my company as a potential client. I appreciate your persistent sales pitches and overkill follow-up call volume into my relentlessly full voicemail inbox overflowing with messages from all 17,395 of your competitors telling me the exact same thing. Almost word for word, in some cases these messages start with, "Hi Rich you might remember me from Agency X last month, and Agency Y last week. I now work at Agency Z and boy do we have a great solution for you."

While we are all in business for the sake of, well, doing business, I have some cards to throw on the table and some needs that need to be addressed. Do your research.

  • When harvesting potential clients, make sure you do an exhaustive investigation of their social media footprint before trying to sell them on how social media is this "awesome new idea that could help them with their business." Social media is generally a public presence and should be fairly easy to assess if you know how to use the tools.....and a website called Google. What my company and its competitors have already done or not done at a high level should be fairly easy to figure out based on a couple quick searches.
  • Let me know what you've seen my competitors doing in social and present identifiable gaps that we can leverage to move the needle ahead of them. I can figure out on my own how to copy them, I need help beating them to the punch with something new and innovative.

Substantiate your value.

If I am impressed with your solutions and ideas and ask for examples of success (numbers), provide me with legitimate samples of proven success that show me a direct correlation between meaningful engagement with customers and a proven increase in sales and brand awareness (where applicable). We all know social media and marketing will always have an acceptable "squishy" quota. They're allowed to. It's the nature of the beast. However, fluffed up case studies and customer stories only really mean something when backed by numbers. If you can't show me numbers, my execs won't cut you a check.


Please spend less time telling me about the features you have that everyone else has and more time focusing on the features you have that most of your competitors don't. Keyword/phrases residing in social data have been available via API for years now. How does your usage and presentation of this data differ from others in a deeper more expanded heuristic sense?

Show me your crazy ideas.

The most successful social media initiatives don't usually come from inside the box. The commodity version of social strategy doesn't turn heads. A thoughtful fresh approach not attempted by the majority will stimulate my loyal customers and get the attention of those that are still window shopping for a new brand to invest in for the long term. It's a noisy social world out there and the winner's circle has less and less room for the status quo.

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