How to Implement Social Media Despite Agency Limits & Stakeholder Fears

This Content-to-Commerce post revealed some interesting social-media statistics, and prompted me to answer two questions:

  • “Why aren’t digital agencies bringing social-media to clients?”
  • “Why can’t brands seem to overcome their internal inertia?”

I have the somewhat rare experience of having seen social media strategy and tactics in various roles: as a marketer (client), client stakeholder (legal, PR, web), agency and even as a vendor to agencies.

afraid of social media

The agencies will tell you that their marketing and PR clients WANT it, but the marketing client’s attorneys and bureaucracy is preventing it. The marketer may blame delays or failures on the digital or PR agency or more likely internal stakeholders. The reality is that all three (brand team, client stakeholders and partners) need to be aligned, or face months of nonsense for a tactic that may not yet be proven.

Here are some additional excuses and some ways to snuff them:

1) Agencies aren’t profiting on social-media like they do on web development and media buying. This, I believe, is the real reason agencies have been tentative about social media. Solution: give your agency an incentive by allowing them to conduct projects that aren’t specific to web development. Allow fees (project or retainer) to cover social-media strategists and monitoring. Sure it’s free to create many accounts (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) but doing it well requires expertise.

2) My PR agency, AOR and web firm are telling me different things. Solution: Find one agency to lead social media, because it’s not easy to share it. Typically this would be your digital agency, although some are not driving social media as a progressive PR firm. I would not expect much out of an offline agency of record.

3) My internal stakeholders are “questioning it to death.” Solution: This is common, and your agency should help you develop the business case based on what you’re hearing as inevitable internal obstacles (which aren’t usually new, and were used to stop marketers from embracing the web). Attorneys are legitimately worried about legal ramifications, but a well-managed social-media strategy will address those risks and minimize them. Most problems attorneys fear are extremely rare. Public relations leaders are terrified about a negative Wall Street Journal resulting from a social-media error. Again, rare, but there are certainly enough examples to substantiate their fear.

There are two ways to address irrational stakeholder fears: first, make the business case to offset the risk. Second, put the risk in perspective. If you don’t do both, your chances of realizing the benefit of social-media are reduced by 80%.

4) My agency is clueless about Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Solution: Demand expertise, and drop the agency if they can’t respond. Often the client is underwhelmed because his/her account team is not well informed. Sometimes there’s a social-media expert that’s cross accounts. Give your account team a reason to engage that person and learn from him/her.

5) The final excuse may require some self examination. It’s quite possible the marketer is the obstacle. If you haven’t been convinced social-media can drive sales, you’re probably sending your agencies mixed messages. Solution: Tell your agency you believe social-media may be important, but need to be convinced. Give them an opportunity to challenge some of your preconceived notions, like:

  • My target customer doesn’t use social media.
  • I don’t want my brand on the wild-west of YouTube (we said that about the web a decade ago).
  • It’s going to be too difficult to implement — too many internal barriers. The “return on hassle” isn’t there.
  • The ROI isn’t evident.
  • Even if I did something, I’m not sure it would scale enough to impact sales.

These are legitimate concerns, but be open to facts that may convince you otherwise. Keep in mind that some of the highest performing levers of the marketing mix (paid search and websites) faced similar scrutiny when they were new.

Amateur YouTuber Does Integrated Promotion for Take180. Too Bad Site Flounders Technically.

Another popular YouTube artist has been tapped for a comprehensive promotion that involves a sponsored video, significant promotion on the client’s website, and even online-media ads promoting the YouTuber. Kelly, the shoe-loving persona of Liam Kyle Sullivan, posted a recent video interviewing her Aunt Sarah (another Sullivan persona). The video mentions Take180, a website where viewers interact with serial web shows and compete in challenges to develop plots.

As a raving fan of Kelly, I was stopped right in my tracks. When I later saw a display ad for Take180 (featuring Kelly), I was quick to visit, register and even TRY entering a contest (more on that in a minute).

This is a great use of a known Internet icon to promote an unknown website. The promotion wasn’t just a YouTube video promoting a sponsor, but a full partnership that’s the web’s equivalent of William Shatner and Priceline. Kelly fit the persona of Take180, and they’ve embraced her on their site and in digital promotions. This is a win-win since many of us wouldn’t have looked at Take180 without her endorsement, and Kelly’s getting some exposure to people that may not know her yet.

I would expect Liam took a modest stock grant as well as a decent paycheck for his participation. We can’t have Kelly pimping any old website and becoming the Internet’s version of Ed McMahon, can we?

Now the bad news (see clarification post 24 hours later). The site is a technical disaster. It didn’t know I had confirmed my e-mail address until I logged out and in again. It logged me off without explanation. The interface was graphic heavy and non-intuitive. Worse of all, when I tried to upload a video (I had shot, edited, titled and scored… it rejected each format). Will I be back again? Not likely.

It’s usually the other way around. Great technology with lousy marketing. In this case, it may be time Kelly took those technical Betches outside and showed their ass the back of her heel.

Where Are the YouTube Ads? (Insert Cricket Sound)

The biggest mystery of YouTube partners (those who share in advertising revenue generated by their videos) is yet unsolved. My post about Sxephil’s reaction generated a lot of discussion, but there’s still a big unanswered question….

Are the YouTube ads missing because advertisers aren’t buying? Or is there a technical glitch prohibiting them?

BrokeEither option is sad news. If YouTube can let its only revenue-producing functionality die, then that doesn’t speak well for the company’s priorities. If advertising inventory is low on the world’s biggest online-video site, that’s a sad statement about the economy or marketer’s recognition of online video.

No e-mails from YouTube. Nothing on the blog. Lots of YouTube partners seeing no Invideo ads, and wondering if they should hold their videos until something improves.

Often our burning questions about a YouTube matters go unanswered because the answer would perhaps create greater scrutiny to the question. However I like the proactive and transparent approach… “Hey guys, we have a problem, and here’s what we’re doing to solve it and prevent it in the future.”

In the meantime you viewers can enjoy your videos without interruption and know that we creators will start holding onto our day jobs a big tighter.

And I’m totally bumming because I finally got Spencer (the Farting in Public kid) back in action yesterday night with “Will You Be My Prom Date?” and it’s currently the #4 highest-rated video of the day. And the recent “Cool Fish!” was seen more than 30,000 times in the past couple days but doesn’t appear to be making money for me or YouTube.

And now I just found out that my stupid “How to Make a Viral Video While Driving” is on the homepage of YouTube. Unmonetized. 🙁