With every passing day it becomes crystal clear to me that social networks and services are pivotal to one’s own personal branding. As corporations and local businesses dive deeper into integrating their brands on-line, those same social networks, services and even up and coming on-line communities can and are being leveraged in a similar way.
Countless articles discuss the benefits of including Facebook fan pages and Twitter brand profiles in your brand strategy. Everything from organizing group events around product promotions to offering exclusive coupons to followers. The trend is definitely growing and won’t be going away any time soon. All of these strategies aimed at increasing brand adoption, recognition and generating a viral buzz. In fact, hedging your brand bet within the social arena isn’t really an option anymore…it’s a requirement. This leads me to wonder how this need is currently being addressed.
The assumption is that a business either employs in-house social marketing talent or outsources the work through their agency of choice. The problem with that is whether or not the agency has specific expertise in the social marketing space. Of course brand-centric agencies have evolved with the times to include these services but are they experts? More specifically, even if they serve a specific vertical, do they bundle these services as part of the bigger picture or can there truly be a standalone agency business model here?
I would imagine that if a suitable monitoring, analytics, management, response and mitigation system were to be implemented coupled with the drive and sleepless nights that most good SEO masters possess, this could become a compelling proposition. Rather than becoming an additional service that’s either included or not, suddenly you have the makings of a boutique agency in the social marketing space. I’m not implying that these types of agency services don’t currently exist but you don’t really hear much about them as a standalone service. The pitch would be the promise of owning a brand’s reputation in real time across both existing and new social networks without the need for self-monitoring tools.
Brands understand this today and may even be willing to pay a premium for such a niche service. The implied expertise alone warrants some ad budget dollars so why not spend it the same way that you spend it on credible SEO services. The concept of the social branding agency is just as focused as rich media service providers like PointRoll and Eyeblaster once were. Agencies always sort of did rich media, but were more than happy to outsource the work to the “rich media experts” for their advertiser clients. In this real time, reputation-hungry market, the social branding agency could be just the expert that brands are looking for.