With social media being such an exciting and shiny landscape, it’s easy for new clients to get carried away. As a social media agency, it’s important, obviously, to create a sense of excitement and vision.
But at the same time, it’s vital to make sure that the new client is fully aware of the limitations of social media, and the slow processes that can sometimes be part of social media brand management. It’s only fair.
And warning new clients of the hurdles and issues that may be present on the road ahead only makes you a better social media agency. It makes you honest, and an agency that has clear integrity.
So take a look at the following four caveats that you will need to present any new client with. They should ground your client in reality, and go a long way towards building trust and reassurance into your relationship. After all, no one likes to feel like they aren’t respected. And getting these out of the way first will bring that respect. Because no one likes surprises in social media either.
The long haul is the true haul
It’s absolutely vital that you communicate to any new client that social media does take a lot of time to ‘bed in’ before real results become apparent. Many an agency has skirted around this issue just to get a client, but it never works in the long run.
As soon as it becomes clear that some real work has to take place before results, the client tends to feel as if the agency has lied to them. And if you’re not telling them what they need to hear (rather than what they want to hear), you are lying to them.
Make a point of giving the client realistic timelines. Be clear about the work that goes into setting up good profiles, or even just auditing the current ones. Outline clearly the months of building ahead of the client, and the need to make sure that a body of work and some real engagement is necessary before any aspects of ROI are going to happen.
It makes much more sense to be realistic, and if the client doesn’t buy what you’re selling, you’re actually saving yourself from a lot of pain and stress as unrealistic expectations are missed. By all means give them exciting timelines and if you’re able to work 24/7 to make them happen, you have our blessing. But the responsible social media agency that is all about quality? They tell the clients the truth about the long haul ahead.
We don’t come cheap
This is an interesting caveat that will simply not wash with some brands, especially if budget is tight. But the idea that quality costs is an important one, and a vital one as social media becomes even more challenging as an arena for brands to make their mark in.
We’re assuming that you aren’t selling your services for peanuts (that never benefits anyone) but at the same time you still need to make sure that you can articulate the reasoning behind your pricing.
The main message or caveat that needs to come across here is that anything that works in social media is going to cost money. Sometimes this means a substantial part of a marketing budget. If your new client is already moaning about costs before they even start to work with you, they really shouldn’t be your client.
Be proud of your social media work and the unique skills and experience you bring to the fray. And charge accordingly. The best clients in the world only pay for the best work. And that means a realistic expectation around costs.
Oh, and by the way, a key indicator of a truly great social media agency is the extent that it includes metrics and analytics in its work. If you have this kind of resource, it is well worth making your new client aware of it. Being informed in this way makes you a better agency, and a more effective one for your client.
Strategy is the thing
Another caveat concerns preparedness. You’d be surprised how many brands think it’s still okay to hand over a huge budget and allow an agency to just send out a few random tweets and posts and ‘see what happens’. A brand cannot rely on a haphazard approach to social media. It doesn’t work for brands, simple as that. The only thing that works is to have a strategy.
The first bit of your work should revolve around creating a comprehensive and very detailed strategy for social media. This takes time, and brands should not be surprised if it takes up a huge chunk of time.
You can’t rush into social media, and the last thing they should be expecting is an overnight story. In other words, get the term ‘viral’ out of their heads. You are there to plan, and then implement.
Buy, buy, buy
Finally, one of the most important concepts to communicate is the need for paid advertising and marketing. Reach is something that is absolutely necessary for any marketing to take place, but sometimes you have to pay for that reach.
Explaining that to the client is crucial. Take away any preconceptions about the miracle cure for hard work and massive results in six months. Factor in the paid aspect to your fee, and make it clear that you will indeed be paying for advertising at some point in the process.
This will again make what you do very transparent, and boost the trust. It also makes you professional, and knowledgeable about the marketplace.
Your relationship with a new client is based entirely on honesty and transparency, and these caveats are a huge part of that. Get them out there and clear as soon as possible, and you should find that the client respects you, and sticks with you.
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