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Are marketing agencies practising what they preach?

Henry Elliss
Henry Elliss
Managing Director
16 November 2009

There’s a very interesting report out this week from US “Agency Client Relationship Experts” (!) RSW/US, looking at a number of changes to the way marketing agencies are getting new business in the current climate. I won’t go in to the nuts and bolts of the report here (you can download the whole thing here if you’re interested) but there were a few, social media related gems in there that I wanted to highlight. As an agency selling social media, at Tamar we are particularly good at practising what we preach – we use Twitter (both as an agency and as individuals), Flickr, we have a Facebook page, we blog, etc etc). But it seems that not all agencies are quite so good at their own marketing…

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According to the research (as illustrated nicely above), the most common social media ‘element’ that agencies are using is a LinkedIn account, closely followed by Facebook and Twitter. Just over 50% said they have a company blog, and a mere 17% are using Flickr. As some of the later questions show, I suspect that the LinkedIn stat may be a bit misleading – if my suspicions are correct, the person filling in the survey on behalf of their agency may sometimes have classed their own LinkedIn account as enough to tick the “yes” box.

Anyway, if this were a survey of agencies as a whole, I’d say that was a pretty healthy figure, but considering the report was conducted using data from 6,000 “marketing service companies”, I think that’s pretty disappointing.  Not to mention the fact that just ‘having’ these presences doesn’t mean they are necessarily being used at all, or used well! As the follow-up questions highlighted quite well…

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The next question asked if “They” (presumably the person filling in the survey) blogged on behalf of the agency, almost two thirds of respondees claimed they blogged once a month or less – not a recipe for an engaging blog, I’m sure you’ll agree. Even if the agency has 10 other inhouse blog authors, once a month doesn’t really seem very impressive.

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The stats for agency Facebook pages are a little higher, with just under half of agencies claiming to update their Facebook page once a week or more. Finally, they also asked agencies how often they used Twitter:

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As with previous questions, I suppose we have to work on the assumption here that the person filling in the survey *might* not be the one responsible for actually doing the marketing – though I know from my own experience at Tamar that these surveys usually get passed straight to the person who actually does the marketing. So to see that 76% of respondents with a Twitter account said they posted just once a week or less, it’s quite a disappointment. What’s the point of having a Twitter account if you’re going to post so infrequently? According to some stats I saw the other day, the “lifetime” of the average tweet is just 15 minutes – in other words, if it doesn’t attract people’s attention in the first 15 minutes, it’s unlikely to at all. So posting once a week isn’t giving yourself a very good chance of being seen, is it?

In the interests of fairness, it’s worth once again acknowledging that these surveys are always dependent on the person who fills it in being the one who does all these activities, but whichever way you look at it, these answers would seem to imply that most marketing agencies aren’t really practising what they preach. Here at Tamar, for instance, we aim to do exactly the same as what we tell our clients: We tweet regularly (about 4 or 5 times a day, on average), we post at least once a day when we can, we use our Facebook page as a hub for both new business prospects and current clients and we use Flickr when it’s appropriate too.

How does your own company do at online marketing?

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