Advertising execs share thoughts on social media

Charlotte Biz Journal visits with various advertising agency exec’s to get their perspective of how to best benefit from the use of social media.  Check out these short perspectives shared by numerous Charlotte Advertising leaders into how they benefit from understanding and utilizing social media as a core element of their brand marketing strategies.  


Top advertising execs share their wisdom on social media

Aug 7, 2015, 7:15am EDT

The rapid rise of social media as an avenue for engaging customers and defining brands has made the medium a difficult one to ignore when businesses are weighing options for advertising. And yet, it remains a mystery to many.

As part of an ongoing series tied to the installment of The List appearing in today’s edition of the Charlotte Business Journal, we asked the top executives at the region’s largest advertising firms to share their experiences.

Below, you’ll find their responses. Stay tuned for more from these industry leaders on Monday. And if you haven’t already, check out the first post in the series, where we questioned whether traditional advertising is becoming obsolete.

What, if any, have been your greatest challenges in integrating social media marketing into your existing specialties?

Social media doesn’t keep office hours. To manage our clients’ social media programs, we make sure our team members have the resources and plans in place to be responsive and accessible, from the digital tools that allow them to manage and measure engagement to the team bandwidth that ensures someone always is available to participate in the social conversation.

— Jennifer Appleby, president and chief creative officer, Wray Ward

Social is a powerful channel in building community and enabling brand advocacy. In the past, the saying was if consumers had a positive experience with a brand they told three people and a negative experience they told 10 people. Social has enabled word-of-mouth in an unprecedented way and those numbers are now exponential. To be relevant and responsive to consumers, brands need to establish the resources and processes to manage both the brand and client expectations. In addition, the channel is evolving so rapidly, that staying in front of the technological requirements is a must.

— David Soliday, CEO, mythic

The biggest challenge is that everyone believes they have to be in social media; maybe they should, but maybe not. You have to have a clear purpose and expectation for the use of social media. Too many businesses will put a great amount of resources (time and money) into the social media basket because they think it’s so much “more affordable” and before they know it, they’ve lost market share.

— Barry Wilson, partner and president, Planet Central Advertising

We’ve faced the same two challenges that most agencies face when trying to integrate emerging advertising trends like social media and content marketing: a difficulty building teams that can provide those services competitively and a difficulty getting client buy in on using them.

It is very hard to quickly master, create internal structure, train staff and price emerging, non-traditional services like content marketing on a timetable that meets demand. Additionally, it’s no longer enough to provide a service for the sake of doing so. You have to be really, really good. Good enough to match the level of work that a “best of breed” specialist provider that you are competing directly against would provide. With the movement of companies away from full service, multi-tasking agencies to smaller, specialist firms and freelancers that do the best of that one thing, it’s hard to stay ahead of the changes while also remaining competitive. Most agencies have overcome this challenge by spending substantially more on staff continued education and learning events, like marketing conferences, or by buying the expertise in the form of another small agency or a pricey freelancer with expert skills that can quickly Band-Aid the service gap. Other agencies have overcome this challenge by eliminating services from their roster, not adding, and instead choosing to become a “best of breed” in something of their choosing to create more demand and quality of work in that area. Then, when they work with a client who needs that other service, they have a trusted network of partners or sister companies (that they probably bought and also own) to fulfill that other service in best of class fashion. Clients don’t want convenience or “one-stop shops” any more. They want the best of each thing they pay for and for agencies to focus on doing one thing well, and working with other people to get the other pieces done well, too.

The other challenge is educating the client and/or prospect on the importance, value and relevance of these emerging tactics. We know they work, we know they are worth the cost, and we know they are important elements of any successful campaign mix; however, getting the client on the same page is hard, especially without a substantial body of proof for the tactics, which is difficult to have with any emerging tactic.

— Mike Pinckney, owner, Pinckney Marketing Inc.

We have made it our effort to help support, train and coach our clients with an overall social media strategy so they can do it themselves internally — which really is the best way versus having other people and companies doing it for them.

— Jack Burke, president and chief creative officer, BURKE

As a digital marketing agency, we have not faced many challenges in integrating social media marketing into our existing capabilities; rather social media has always been a core element of our offerings. Our team operates within the digital space, so we are constantly on the lookout for innovative digital tools and opportunities that can help our clients achieve their objectives.

— Banks Wilson, president and creative director, UNION

All of our specialties – digital, creative, brand strategy, media and public relations – seamlessly weave social media into their campaigns and marketing tactics. Actually, educating brands and their leadership on how social media can impact their business is oftentimes the biggest hurdle that we encounter. Some clients are eager to try the latest and greatest social media tactics while others are not quite ready to take the leap. Fortunately, our clients who are comfortable with social media love the real-time interaction and their leadership can’t wait for the next round of reporting that comes on the back-end.

— Donna Forbes, general manager, HMH

There can be a hesitancy to spend money on what you don’t fully understand, and social media marketing is still so new and rapidly evolving that we’re all learning how to fully capitalize on it. One particular barrier is the outdated thinking that consumers exclusively engage news outlets for their news and social media to interact with their friends and family. In reality, there’s been a melding on a mass scale of traditional and social channels, as well as organic and sponsored content. That phenomenon has really transformed how, when and where Internet content is consumed — and by whom. As a full-service agency, we believe strongly in an integrated channel spend based on audience segmentation. And we’ve found that digital and, more specifically social media, is a harder sell for our clients who highly value traditional media. Our role as a strategic partner is to help our clients maximize their budget to accomplish their business goals and objectives, so when there’s a hesitancy to consider digital, or more specifically, social media marketing, we have relevant research, case studies and real-time analytics to make the case for these emerging media.

— Libby Rose, president, ABZ Creative Partners

Convincing some executives that not all social media channels are relevant for all types of businesses and industries.

— Leslie Kraemer, creative director and principal, birdsong gregory

Keeping up with the rapidly changing scope of technology in this space.

— Michael Greenspon, Greenspon Advertising

Learning how to adapt advertising for the mobile audience has been one of the main challenges. The on-the-go nature and shorter attention span of mobile users makes the ability to grab their attention and quickly and effectively convey a message all the more important. Because social media is such an important tool in maintaining a brand’s image and we see its continued growth with the use of mobile devices, learning how to appropriately adapt messaging is imperative and can be a challenge. On a client level, it can be a challenge to demonstrate the monetary value of social media marketing, and marketers continue to search for meaningful and creative ways to demonstrate ROI.

— Gary Walker, president and CEO, Walker Marketing Inc.

The biggest challenge has been convincing clients of the need to update social media and the important role of keeping ahead of changing protocols with the various forms of social media. I have been in the agency business for close to 35 years and our industry has changes more in the last five that it in the previous thirty. The biggest threat is the fragmentation of marketing business caused by these emerging technologies. Every week there are startups that specialize in a new technology and our clients are bombarded these claims of success. More than not, it results in marketing that is not coordinated.

— Michael Sumner, vice president, The Sumner Group

Thankfully, there are many opportunities to integrate social media into existing specialties. Integration is a pillar of our business. We always approach messaging from a holistic standpoint. Perhaps the biggest challenge is convincing clients of the value of investing into certain tactics, measurement tools and even media the client is unfamiliar with. New technology, new channels, and new communication — those are pioneering paths that only the bravest embrace. The lag between being there and being smart are also a challenge. Early Internet sites were just there, they weren’t smart. A lot of businesses post on social media, but they don’t have a purpose or a plan. While they are looking at is as an “add-on” tool, we are encouraging our clients to think of it in a more holistic way. That doesn’t mean you can’t do some disruptive, cool, unique things with social or leveraging trending social media opportunities, or even using real-time customer data. We just try to make sure our clients are armed with an overall strategic plan, a smart social plan and finally great content that can move people in the ways they want them to.

— Theckla Sterrett, president, Saturday Brand Communications

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