Over the last two years, I’ve seen many of my clients more confident in their ability to understand and connect with consumers via social media. Like Nike has just done, many have taken the responsibilities of day-to-day management of their social media profiles in-house.
Many in the agency community will cry that this is the beginning of the end. They will ask “how are we supposed to survive financially if we can’t make money managing their platforms like Facebook and Twitter?” I would respond that they’re wrong in many ways.
First off all, the closer you get to the source of the information, the better social media works. That’s just a plan fact of life reinforced by companies like Comcast, Delta and Zappos that have been managing their social media in-house for years. By creating systems designed to connect their social media operation with other, customer-facing components of their business like customer service and sales they win with consumers. It’s as simple as that.
Secondly, going in-house is not just the natural evolution of social media. Also, it’s a good thing for agencies. Day-to-day management of a brand’s social media presence is fun but it’s ultimately work that takes a lot of time in terms of brand training and the cycle of content creation and approval from the client. Thought it might be a cash cow for some agencies now, when you look at the time spent versus revenue generated, it’s not the most efficient use of creative talent in the long run.
Clients taking social media in-house allows agencies the ability to evolve to a role that helps brands achieve greater, more complex levels of engagement with consumers. Instead of worrying about what to post next, agencies can help create CRM systems that aid in making social media conversation more rewarding for the customer and more value-add for the brand. Simply put – it frees agencies up to do what they do best – dream and execute big.
Though many brands aren’t at the stage that they feel comfortable taking their social media management in-house, I believe we’re going to see more doing this in 2013. The best thing agencies can do is take a proactive role to educate and inform our clients to the point the feel comfortable speaking directly to and with their customers through social media.
In the meantime, those that do fear for the future of their agency model are probably the ones that will not around very much longer.