Jul.24

How to Don Draper Your Social Media: A Guide for Agencies

“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 innovative work. Hitching your 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, exuding calm and control.

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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.

Pinch Social, like Don Draper, has what are called “testable credentials.” Don’s credentials included legendary creative power and foresight, credentials that clients were invited to test for themselves by meeting him in person and asking him to come up with campaigns on the spot. Testimonials? Unnecessary: Don was so confident in his abilities that he could make them credible by asking clients to test them for themselves. Post-Mad Men, agencies make their claims credible by inviting everyone on the internet to test them for themselves — by looking at each agency’s own social media channels, a new iteration of Don’s catered boardroom meeting.

Pinch Social’s credibility is not certified by experts on social media, but can instead be verified by potential clients when they look at the agency’s social feeds. Chip and Dan Heath, in their book Made to Stick, write that a testable credential is created when a brand outsources “its credibility to its customers”, asking them to test it for themselves. This is an incredibly powerful way to advertise credibility: by putting their social media strategies out in the open, on their own social accounts, agencies invite customers to see what they can do. For agencies, social media creates testable credentials: the credentials that you advertise to clients are ones that they can now verify themselves. Let’s imagine that your agency promises clients bigger audiences: clients will go to your own social media channels to verify your ability to do that.

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. Its testable credentials are its credibility, but also its goodness.

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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 Inc and Pinch Social 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 your 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. An agency’s own social media channels are where its credentials — like credibility and inventiveness — will be tested by potential clients.

Before sharing content on social, ask yourself, “would Peggy Olson put her name on this?” Does this tweet live up to the credentials you advertise to clients? 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!