Evolve CommunicationsHow to Sell Social Media


How to Sell Social Media

This is the second in our “How to Sell” series. You can read the first post in the series, “How to Sell Public Relations Services.”

With companies across the spectrum looking to incorporate social media into their marketing mix, selling social media should be relatively easy, right? Believe it or not, many companies still face several hurdles to incorporating social media into their marketing mix. These include:

  • Not fully understanding social, and therefore ignoring it.
  • Feeling like it’s something a lower-level employee can do (and therefore not giving it a plank in the strategy–or tying it to strategy at all).
  • Their agency doesn’t recommend social media solutions as much as they could (or should).

Many agencies focus on selling services with which they’re comfortable and have experience. They know they should be growing their social media practice, but can’t seem to quite close the deal. That’s where we come in.

Here’s what agencies need to do in order to sell more social.

Bake social into everything

This must go beyond simply creating a Facebook and Twitter page. That’s the price of entry, and not an idea in and of itself.

Marketing solutions need to demonstrate ideas for identifying, engaging, joining and sometimes building communities. That can be through creating interesting content, developing a company’s online presence, and exchanging useful information that create value for the client’s constituents.

Be social

Seems obvious, right? Social media may be new to some, but companies that want help with social expect an agency with at least a modicum amount of experience. Even if an agency doesn’t have experience, it’s people surely do (seriously, who isn’t on Facebook?). That means letting its employees be active on social networks. That also means giving up some level of message control (which is perhaps the largest hurtle for many traditional ad agencies).

Should the agency itself get social? Evolve’s answer is Yes–and No. It’s o.k. to have a presence, but we believe the true power of social media is in people, not organizations. That’s why we believe it’s essential for agencies to loosen their hold on the reigns and let their people represent online. Guidelines, in this case, are recommended (but not rules). The bottom line here is that some agencies just need to adjust their thinking (and approach) towards how information is spread today.

Be open with clients and set realistic expectations

This might be the most difficult thing for an agency. Client-agency relationships can be tenuous, and they need to be cultivated and constantly maintained. No agency wants to risk losing a client by presenting an idea that the client won’t buy into.

But it’s the agency needs to both be open with the client about what is possible with social media, and what isn’t. By now, most companies know that social is not a panacea to its marketing problems. And most recognize the need for integration with other marketing activities.

Perhaps that’s why starting selling social ideas to long-term, existing clients might be the best place to start. There’s already a level of trust there, which the agency can then leverage to its advantage. The agency can take its past record with the client and use that as a platform to demonstrate new ideas that incorporate social media.

Why agencies need to do this?

To protect their business. The biggest threat to an agency today is not evolving (sorry, we can’t resist the pun). There is a lot of room in the marketplace for upstarts to come in a snatch up business from agencies focused on more traditional marketing solutions. And with the plethora of freelancers on the market, its easier for a small agency to start in social and work into more traditional avenues than it is for a more established agency to develop a social media practice.


Image credit: http://xkcd.com



Sutter Group Reply

Amazing post, Daniel! Well done – it’s something I happen to know ALL ad agencies and marketing companies are trying to figure out, but few have been able to. I’m passing this along. :)


DanielDubya Reply

Thanks Garret! I’m DM’ing you…we need to reschedule that lunch!

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