“Please RT! I #followback” – Don Draper, never

Is your agency more Lou Avery or Don Draper on social media?

Luring clients on social media is different than luring customers. Agencies should use social media to underline their ability to take risks that pay off, making brands trendy while protecting them from controversy. More amateur social media strategies — asking for RTs, jumping on every hot hashtag — don’t cut it with clients who want to pay for risk-taking, innovative work. Hitching agency’s social channels to trending hashtags, celebrities, or topics could attract more followers in the short term, at the risk of damaging your brand.

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How can agencies use social media to communicate innovation and safety at the same time?

Playing it Safe?

Agencies are in a tough spot when crafting an appealing voice on social: they have to simultaneously demonstrate that they’re trustworthy and in on the latest trends. Articulating both on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram is challenging. False notes about being hip with the kids might be missed by consumers, but they will be noticed by clients.

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It’s tempting for agencies to become risk averse on social media, protecting their brand and avoiding controversy at all costs. If a social media agency promising to protect brands from controversy became embroiled in one itself, it would lose all credibility.

But playing it safe might come with a higher cost, communicating a lack of innovation and a deafness towards trends to clients. Boilerplate content, lacklustre campaigns, and a dull voice will drive clients away. Can agencies stay trendy on social without risking their reputations?

Cutting-Edge Voices

Pinch Social of Toronto has articulated its expertness well on Twitter, positioning itself as an agency with the inside track on upcoming social innovations.

The agency’s most popular tweets center on breaking social media news, as shown in the Crowdbabble table below. Rather than engaging in trending topics that could go awry, Pinch shares trending social media news. “Change is neither good or bad, it simply is,” Pinch seems to say on Twitter, its tone exuding calm and control.

Sharing news quickly emphasizes that Pinch Social is at the forefront of social media innovation, which has helped it brand itself as an authority in social marketing. Agencies can figure out what content is successful with their audiences using Crowdbabble analytics; Pinch succeeds when it’s the first to share marketing news.

Public Inc, another successful Toronto agency, has also carved out a niche identity on social by sharing news. Its most engaging posts focus on positive social news, involving local causes and non-profit groups.

The positive slant of Public’s social voice makes it easy to retweet; #causemarketing also gives the brand trustworthiness. Like Pinch, Public uses Twitter to establish itself as an authority in social media marketing — an extremely hireable trait for clients.

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As Peggy Olson once said, “I’d never recommend imitation as a strategy. You’ll be second, which is very far from first.” Bandwagon social media might work for clients, but agencies should steer clear of jumping on #hothashtags every time they come up. Trading trending topics for trending news, Public and Pinch have both been able to advertise themselves on social as current and credible.

WWPD?
One of the first things a client will check when considering your agency is its social channels. Along with past campaigns, your own social is a great indicator of your approach to marketing and your ability to build an audience. Building your reputation as an authority in social media, in a unique voice, will impress potential clients.

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When stuck between Lou Avery or Don Draper when it comes to social strategy, the middle road could be best. Before sharing content on social, ask yourself, “would Peggy Olson tweet this?” If your content is innovative and cutting-edge, without undermining your credibility, you’ve hit the sweet spot between safety and risk-taking. Tweet away!