Key Factors For a Successful Client-Agency Relationship

collaboration-imageBack in February, our CEO Jonas Klit Nielsen, shared his thoughts in a guest post on Findgood’s Blog. The post addressed the key factors in building a successful client-agency relationship.

A new report from the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Marketing) and Hall & Partners, “From Mad Men to Sad Men”, now reveals that the challenge to build and maintain a positive and flourishing collaboration between agency and client is more difficult than ever before.

With that in mind, it seems relevant to re-share Jonas’ thoughts on the subject, and reflect a bit on what we, whether agency or client side, can do to strengthen relationships and focus on creating brilliant work that delivers great results.

 

Transparency

It’s 2015 and the world has become more transparent than ever – this is also a universal truth when it comes to the future of great client-agency relationships.

Without being transparent in how you do business, you won’t be able to be honest about your demands and deliveries, and thus push each other’s boundaries, which is absolutely key to building a strong and productive relationship. When you start building new relations hang on to the thought that both parties want you to be successful. If you’re not, you won’t be able to create dents in the universe together.

 

Trust

We have been working with social media since 2008, which means that for many of our clients we have entered unknown territory together. When exploring new opportunities, with no best practices or well-documented approaches established, clients understandably need to trust you, and it becomes vital for both parties to always stay aligned in regard to expectations.

As an agency you don’t have to push the limits of your clients every day and all the time, but when you ask them to take a leap of faith, do it with eyes wide open and with all the calculated risks on the table. Most clients are prepared to take risks, they just want to know which, and be able to take the possible implications into consideration.

Working with social media involves handing over some control to the users and to us as an agency. Some would say that the loss of control is inevitable, but don’t lose sight of the state the client is in and the objectives you have agreed to – if you acknowledge where the client is coming from and where they are today, they will trust your guidance and let you be part of their future.

 

Increase Collaboration

We believe that great content can come from any of our clients’ stakeholders. That belief presents a challenge for us, as we need to work closely with the entire team of appointed agencies without increasing the complexity for the clients. The clients demand daily collaboration and expect everyday operations to run smoothly.

To meet this challenge we started thinking about our client-agency relationship from a holistic perspective: What if we could be the solution by creating an editorial structure that de-complicates the task of managing social brand channels with multiple client stakeholders?

The greatest thing about this holistic approach and our implemented processes is not only being more successful in meeting the demands of our clients, but in our journey we have become much more efficient from an internal perspective, giving us a competitive advantage. Our learning is that when evaluating all our processes the key is well-documented structures but at the same time keeping it simple.

 

And please… Stick with the right stuff

As social media has moved up the brand strategy funnel over the years, we experience an increasing number of requests to take on tasks outside of our specialty, something that might seem very tempting.

Agencies can pitch to take over more and more duties within different disciplines, but if you’re a niche agency such as ours, you’ll come out better and stronger if you know when to withdraw from tasks too far away from your core competences. From a client perspective you might ask a separate appointed agency to do extra tasks to avoid adding another agency to your list, but then you risk not getting the level of expertise the task actually requires.

As an agency you risk either having a disappointed client, loosing the relationship to the client’s other agencies or ending up with a satisfied client but an unhappy accountant. As Seth Godin says “Quit the wrong stuff. Stick with the right stuff. Have the guts to do one or the other.”

 

Which key factors have you found crucial for building a valuable client-agency relationship?

 

 

Clickbait: Information overload! How can brands cut-through all the noise?

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 10.11.34You won’t believe the hidden message in this blog post! Or rather – there isn’t one, I just wanted you to click through and read this. But bear with me – I’m about to suggest something incredibly controversial – a never-heard-before admission by a social agency!*

As much as clickbait is the emotional catnip of our online experience and can drive consistent traffic for publishers like The Daily Mail and Huff Post who churn out multiple stories each day, it’s still hugely annoying to discover you’ve been duped by an over-excited headline promising to give you all the feels. For brands, adopting the same practice can negatively affect perception and ultimately – sales. So how can brands cut through all the sensational copy and deliver successful results without falling prey to creating clickbait themselves? How do they beat them rather than join them?

 

Platform crackdown

In the early days of social, Facebook optimised content based on engagement, meaning that if users clicked on a piece of content, it received a higher ranking in newsfeeds. In 2014 Facebook took steps to try and crack down on those gaming this ranking using clickbait, and in February this year it introduced an update based not just on what users engaged with in their feed, but what they wanted to see. Facebook’s advice is that Pages should avoid encouraging people to take action (such as encouraging lots of clicks), because this will likely only cause temporary spikes in metrics that might then be rebalanced by feed’s ranking over time – meaning the latest ranking favours content that users naturally engage with rather than content that users click on through coercion.

 

Last month Instagram followed suit and announced it would alter user’s feeds to optimise the content users “care about the most”, and Twitter has also adopted a similar change (although users can opt-out and revert back to the chronological feed). The changes will hopefully make it harder for clickbaiters to game feeds with meaningless content, but the real aim for the platforms hosting is to surface more engaging content more frequently so users return often and stay longer.

 

The same goes for brands on social. If the content they produce is consistently engaging, then users will interact more frequently, leading others to discover it through preferred ranking. Ultimately, these new newsfeed algorithms exist to generate more meaningful engagement, driving not just clicks, but conversations via comments, and shares.

 

Learn and adapt

Meaningful engagement begins with relevant content that creates value for the user and the brand. While an insight-driven content strategy is key to delivering this, brands should also adapt stories and messages based on the emotional needs and behavior of their audience. This is more than just a case of ‘test and learn’ or refining what has already been done. Brands must also evolve their approach in line with new behaviors, platforms, competitors and rankings or risk being left behind by those who do.

 

A good example of a brand that does this well is Buzzfeed, who’s CEO recently shared their new strategic thinking, revealing how their objective has changed from getting users to click through to their main site to view stories, to allowing content to be consumed directly on other platforms. The new direction was prompted by analysing which content generated clicks and discovering that users prefer to consume some types of content within the platform they are already on. The company also found a discernable difference between user interactions with the same content on different platforms, demonstrating how content demand and consumption vary across sites. What spreads like wildfire on Facebook might fail miserably elsewhere.

 

Relevance is key

For brands looking to use social content to drive click-through to their site, it’s important to balance the goal of the company (clicks to eyeballs, or conversions to sales, for example) with the desire and behavior of users on different sites, and monitor response over time. Relevance is key to interaction, and brands that think like publishers will know that relevance is an ever-changing chameleon. While users are bombarded with meaningless clickbait, there is ample opportunity for brands to channel the social zeitgeist by delivering valuable content that meets audience needs in the format, time and platform that suits them. If they get this right, they won’t need clickbait.

 

At Mindjumpers we help companies and brands to think as publishers and provide end-to-end social media management across multiple markets, encompassing full social strategy, planned and reactive content creation, analysis and reporting.

 

If you’d like to find out more please get in touch.

 

*Don’t be naughty and scroll to the last paragraph – I’ve hidden the controversial part somewhere to optimize your dwell time in finding it!