Monthly Archives: January 2012

3 Things A Social Media Agency Must Maximize To Succeed

Social media marketing is extremely expensive and human intensive, when done properly. The key part of that sentence is “When done properly.” A social media marketing firm/consultant that understands what doing it right for a client means, understands that a consistent stream of relevant, valuable content for the clients target audience is required. They understand the need for conversation, responsiveness and engagement with their community as well as the role relationships play within the social graph in order to drive return on the clients investment.

With the proper values in place, a social media agency can be extremely effective for clients, when they use their knowledge and experience within social media to make it valuable for their clients. This resource intensive process usually results in two business challenges:

1) Signing new clients is difficult due to the costs of entry
2) The agency is constantly trying to balance internal time and resources with the clients program effectiveness and results.

Knowing these two challenges exist, there are three things a social media agency must maximize in order to succeed.

1) Internal Efficiency

Your agency or internal social media department must be efficient. Evaluate the time, processes and procedures you are using internally to find opportunities to maximize efficiency. Determine if the tools you are using are what you really need and investigate other applications that can improve your teams use of time.

2) Internal Profitability

As a social media agency you are time and human heavy. These are typically the largest costs you will need to manage. Social media marketing requires the human element to work, so ensuring your have the right people doing the work for your clients is incredibly important. Getting more out of your existing staff has a direct impact in your net profits. Evaluate where in your process your team is spending most of their time on client programs and that is where to focus your efforts for point one above.

You are in business to make a profit. Items one and two above should be your main focus. Without a profitable social media agency, item number three below will not matter.

3) Client Effectiveness and ROI

When, and only when, you have the plates for one and two spinning effectively, you need to refocus your attention on management of client programs. Evaluate the following components to determine areas that can achieve improved results and the changes or additional activity required to do so.

  • Community Growth
  • Community Targeting
  • Social Networks Being Used
  • Content Strategy
  • Engagement
  • Relationship Building

Finally, you need to understand that the more you improve these three items within your social media agency, the more value you will be delivering to your clients, which results in opportunity for price increases and additional projects with them.

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

2 Comments

Filed under Agency, Social content management, Social Media, Social Media Content, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, Social Media ROI, Strategy, Uncategorized

Social Media And Video, What You Need To Know

Social Media And Video, What You Need To Know

Last week I had a chance to talk with Wayne Ferris, COO and Co-founder of Illustrate iT Video, a custom video animation company, about web video and how it relates to social media. Wayne’s company creates simple animated videos that explain a company’s value proposition in under 2 minutes, in a fun and entertaining way.

Here’s an example of what Illustrate iT Video does…

Our discussion centered around the impact of video on social media and how video impacts social media, the do’s, don’ts and how to’s. Wayne is an encyclopedia of information on video and storytelling. I asked Wayne some questions and got some helpful insight. I started with what they do…

How are Illustrate iT videos unique?

We use cartoon-like/motion graphic animation to tell our client’s stories, because we find this medium more engaging. In comparison to a live action video, with the normal talking head which is over done and tend to be boring, coming across as a sales pitch, too long, and over embellished. We have found that you only have about 30 seconds to capture someone’s attention, so we do that quickly by breaking the ice with humor using animation that is engaging and entertaining. With humor and animation you can define a problem and tell a story in a fun and engaging way that teaches people about your product or service without coming across as a sales pitch….that’s why we do what we do.

What else you do for clients and their videos once they’re created?

We advise our clients after production as well, consulting them on what to do with the video to market it correctly, social sharing etc.

We also provide them with a hosting and sharing package that includes:

  • clickable call to action support
  • tracking and reporting analytics
  • Email video embedding capabilities
  • Video SEO & Video Transcription

Why should companies use video in general?

If you are building relationships and sharing valuable content, at the end of the day there needs to be some return. Using short videos that are entertaining and educational tend to be shared more often than the normal CEO talking about the greatness of their product. Video’s can become an extension of a company’s culture, showing the corporate personality. Beyond the static website, blogs, and images, video uniquely enables a brand to be fun, creative and effectively tell your message.

Social bridges the gap with companies and makes them more human to their customers. Nothing does that better than with a video.

How is social media changing video?

Social media has allowed businesses to relax and build a more human personality that has opened up the very avenue that makes video so effective. Social media has forced companies to be innovative and creative with their audience, so using video solidifies the messaging. A fun video preserves a brands message which can then be shared across most social platforms.

Social media has changed video because it established an effective distribution channel that, by its very nature, facilitates a need for video. Social networks have become the platform that enables them to be easily shared. As a result, brands and marketers are paying a lot more attention to video and using it as both as education AND a branding tool.

What is the biggest thing that changed video over the past several years?

YouTube would not be the powerful platform it has become without the growth of social media. Web video’s power and what Illustrate iT Video does for our clients would be far less effective without social. Look at the Old Spice campaign… without social, it would not have impacted the market in the same way.

We put it like this…if you were a company advertising in the real world would you place your advertisement on a billboard on road with low traffic, or would you put it on the busiest highway you could find?  Social media is the highway for video…

What do you suggest small and medium brands do with video in social media?

First and foremost, you must have a YouTube Channel. Social media is very crowded and requires all companies to do more than just share content to stand out. They must also create content that is appealing to their audience and sets them apart from their competition. Video is an extension of that.

It’s important that they be creative with it, update their content regularly with a fun and  interesting video. Things like using their smart phones to capture fun or unique events in their business, staff doing cool things or even customers having a good time can be effective.

Remember to give your audience something of value, entertain them as you educate them. Have your videos capture their attention quickly and above all, make them short and engaging.

What are the costs for Illustrate iT custom videos:

There are a lot of great explanatory video producers out there, and most of them are doing really great work. The problem is that many of them are more expensive than a lot of companies can afford. We invest in our production team within our company, rather than having large overhead with a big expensive management team. Ninety percent of our team are those that actually work on our videos, which enables us to have much lower overhead, produce the highest quality stuff, at a much lower cost for our clients. So rather than $10,000+ minimums, we produce effective, creative videos for clients for between $3,000 – $9000 depending on the scope of work.

We work with tonnes of start-ups and businesses that have a new story, product or concept. Nothing tells your story, the problem you’re solving, and the benefits better than video. That’s why we do what we do.

As a company, we use video a lot. After my conversation with Wayne, our strategy related to video is going to change. Discussion around an Illustrate iT video has already begun.

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post


4 Comments

Filed under Social content management, Social Media, Social Media Content, Social Media Marketing, Uncategorized, Video

How Much Is Your Time Worth?

That is such a loaded question, isn’t it? Time is one of those things we value a lot, yet in business we tend to overlook things that suck it out of us like a shop vac. Sometimes we place our emphasis on the wrong things and as a result we end up doing things ourselves that are better delegated, outsourced or otherwise more effectively handled.

I asked this question in my feeds the other day and got a lot of interesting responses. Here are some of what people said:

  • About $40 an hour.
  • ‎$50/hour
  • I’m salary so it’s all in baby
  • Time is really all I have whether or not I am making money so it defines who I am by how I use it! What time is worth may depend on what you value!

There were many other answers as well, but these seemed to best sum up the lot of them. One recurring and most common of all those that answered was that their time was “Priceless“.

Priceless is an interesting term. When it is the answer given to something physical you are considering selling, it indicates you do not really want to sell it. Think about it…

So if your time is truly “priceless”, you would never sell it. Yet we do sell our time every day. To our employer, our clients, our family, etc. The tricks is to determine what you really think your time is worth to you, then make business and personal decisions consciously that are in alignment with that value.

So I ask you, how much is your time worth?  Think for a moment or two…

Me? When I consult brands on social media, marketing or other business segments, I charge between $250-$400 per hour. I am not just billing for my time, but also my expertise or skill in a certain area, plus my time. So when I am spending time doing something within our company that does not result in direct income, I end up costing US $250-$400 per hour. Make sense?

If you are a social media agency, you understand the value of time. You sell your time and expertise to your clients under the guise that they could never have the time or knowledge to do it themselves. Hence, they need you. Your time in the form of business efficiency, effectiveness and knowledge are what you provide. The more a prospect or client perceives value in your time, the more it is worth to THEM.

Social media is human intensive when done properly. If you don’t realize this, you do not understand how social media marketing works. Using your time wisely to get the most value from it should be the most important thing you manage in your social media marketing efforts.

Food for thought…

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

16 Comments

Filed under Social Media, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, Strategy

Important Elements Of An Agency Social Media Proposal – Part 5 The Template

We’ve walked through the entire social media proposal process. From meeting with the client, getting the commitment and the key elements to include in the document itself. You now have some details on best practices for terms and billing, as well as the important details you should be covering and why.

I want to point out at this point that every single client is different, just like every social media marketing program should be also. Be careful that you are properly analyzing your client, their business, industry and target market. Don’t just hammer out duplicate programs left and right, client after client. Be innovative and unique with each and every client program and proposal. This is what will make their campaigns effective and your firm known for being so.

Without further delay, following is a social media proposal agreement template you may download, modify and use.

Free Download: Social Media Proposal Template

It is our sincere hope that this series has been helpful for your social media agency.

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

24 Comments

Filed under Social Media, Social Media Content, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, Uncategorized

Social Media Is NOT Free – You’re Being Penny Wise And Social Media Foolish!

Social Media Marketing is a specialty within the web, PR, direct and integrated marketing arenas. It is a professional niche that requires specific knowledge, skill and experience to make effective and efficient. If anyone tells you anything different, they are lying to you.

If you were a professional mechanic, you certainly wouldn’t skip steps, do things using free or borrowed tools, would you? If you were an attorney, would you use a free expert witness on the stand when your clients financial well being depended on it? If you were a professional athlete would you use the free limited gym in your high-end condo complex to try and save the $50 per month for the membership to the facility that has all of the things you need to maintain and improve  your body?

If you answered yes to any of the above examples, you are not a social media marketing professional, but a dabbler in the social space. If you answered no to these questions and are using free, limited versions of the professional social media tools you really need to be effective for your brand or social media agency, you are also a dabbler. What’s worse? You are being incredibly foolish.

We hear a ton of “excuses” from people every single day as I speak and consult on social media. Things like…

- We use Tweetdeck because it’s free.

- Do we have to pay for the pro Hootsuite account to use Bundle Post?

- I have not signed up because it costs $50/$100 per month.

Seriously? Let’s be real here. You need a social strategy AND a business strategy!

The right social media tools are a requirement if you are a professional. In fact, if you are doing social media marketing for your own small company and are not spending $100-$200 per month on the proper tools, you are kidding yourself and wasting a lot of time. If you are a social media agency and not spending $150 – $500 per month on the proper tools, you need to evaluate your company profitability and client results, because I suspect you have some major issues on both counts.

If a micro-targeting follow/unfollow tool like Tweetspinner can grow your clients targeted follower base 250% + faster and more effectively, why are you not spending the $22.00 per month to get 5 twitter accounts smoking?

If Hootsuite can deliver more of the social media management, collaboration, analytics and content scheduling capabilities required to make social programs effective and profitable, why are you worrying about the $5.95 per month, or $15.00/mo per collaborative user?

If SocialStage delivers a much more effective fanpage customization solution for $20.00 per month, creating single tabbed micro websites on your fanpages, in a far more professional and customizable for way less cost than outsourcing or designing in-house. What are you making a fuss about? Do it!

If BundlePost , a social content management system, can save you over 80% of your back office social media marketing time, improve all metric results of your social media marketing programs, and give you 80% more time to drive ROI and/handle more clients, why are you worrying about $100 per month? Wouldn’t you like to have the capacity for 80% more clients or improved results with LESS overhead?

What is your time worth?

The point is this… “Social Media Marketing is NOT free. Access to the social networks is.” #quote @fondalo

If you are going to proclaim to be a social media marketer, agency, consultant, strategist or are conducting social media efforts for yourself or your brand, you are either failing to make good decisions about proper tools, or you are a professional and getting professional results using tools. The proper tools make you more effective, reduce costs and time. This frees you up to sign more business, have more conversations and build more relationships. = ROI (return on investment)

Here is a perfect example of a social media agency that understands the place for tools in their business. Post: “I Was Captured on Twitter”  by @phaedrastock

Think about what you are doing to “save money” and what that decision is costing you in time, effectiveness, revenue and additional business. Chose revenue and results over pennies every time!

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

Update:  This evening I saw this commercial for H & R Block. You have to have the right tools. Made me laugh and connected well with today’s post, so I decided to do a little update/addition.  :-) Enjoy a little laugh.

26 Comments

Filed under Social content management, Social Media, social media automation, Social Media Content, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, Social Media ROI, Uncategorized

Important Elements Of An Agency Social Media Proposal – Part 4 of 5 – Pricing/Terms

Nothing like getting down to the meat and potatoes of a social media proposal, right? This post on social media pricing and terms represent one of the two most important parts of this series. Duh right? Maybe not so clearly obvious…

There are reasons and details of these two parts of your social media proposal that make it extremely important, but not the reasons you are most likely thinking. Since we spent years as a social media agency before becoming a social media software company, we learned some things about client projects that I intend on passing along to you today. The items we will be sharing today are some of the most important tips for a small or mid-sized social media marketing agency.

I do not intend on giving advice about pricing in this post. If you are doing social media marketing for clients, you should already have a good idea of the costs and margins you need to work from, as well as what the market can bear. The size of your client, their market focus geographically and demographically, as well as the number of networks and activity levels required to make their program effective are considerations you need to take into account. So we will leave actual pricing models up to you to establish for your business.

Having said that, the other side of your pricing model and terms are how and when you receive payment. Again, our experience in this space enables us to share with you some suggestions that will help you sign and maintain your client accounts over the long term. The three main issue that you need to take a serious look at are:

1) Program Length

Always sign your clients to a 6 month program with you. Always! There are a few specific reasons why this will be very advantageous for you.

a) New social media programs take at least 3-6 months to begin getting traction and results. You need a commitment to enough time to get the program setup, build a community and make needed changes based on what you see on the ground. Six months gives you the time to make the program effective.

b) It allows you to focus on the clients project without worrying about loosing the account. If you are concerned the client might fire you, you tend to not do social media marketing properly and attempt shortcuts that will lead to disaster anyway.

c) It gives the client a sense of not being locked in and makes the decision to get started easier. They understand their committed investment amount for six months and know they have an out if is not effective.

d) If gives you are point in the client relationship to get a price bump. Don’t underestimate this scenario. We all know the amount of time and effort social media requires when done properly. Once you have their program established and getting results, the last thing they want is for it to stop. Or worse that they would have to take it over themselves.

At the six month point of a client social media campaign, you have the ability to resign them with additional components and/or at additional costs. If you have done your job properly, the six month agreement gives you an easy way to get theat accomplished.

2) Payment Frequency Terms

We always made clients pay monthly for their programs with us. The following are the reasons we found this to be extremely beneficial and we highly recommend you follow this model for your agreements.

a) It lightens their financial burden and spreads it across a six month period

b) It also provides a monthly touch point for connecting back with the client

c) Provides an opportunity for feedback, input and additional information about their business

3) Payment Type Terms

I can’t stress this category enough. You MUST take payment from your clients via credit card or recurring PayPal payment. Here are the main reasons we found this to be incredibly beneficial:

a) Your time is valuable. Spending time chasing payments from clients will kill you and your cash flow

b) Never worry about getting paid and paid on time

c) You control running the payment transactions instead of relying on your client to remember or do it

Don’t have a merchant account? Get one! Don’t have a PayPal Pro account? Get one! Neither of those work for you and your situation? Look into Square , a smart phone credit card processing tool that is cost effective and easy for approval. This is a must for your agency, so bite the bullet and get it done.

4) Client Involvement Terms

You need to ensure that your client has some involvement in their daily social media marketing efforts. You are not in their place of business everyday and therefore are not privy to the daily happenings within the company that needs to be shared. Be sure you get a committment level from your client to provide daily/weekly photos, updates, information and videos that you can use to do two things in their program:

a) deliver fresh content about the company that is not necessarily pitching their product/service

b) make the company more human and thus more easily engaging and approachable by your target audience.

Getting the client’s buy in to provide this information is a must within your social media marketing proposal/agreement.

The last post in our series will be an actual Word doc template social media proposal that you can download, edit and use for your company. Part 5 of our series will post next week.

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

19 Comments

Filed under Social Aggregation, Social content management, Social Media, Social Media Content, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, Strategy, Uncategorized

Important Elements Of An Agency Social Media Proposal – Part 3 of 5 – What To Include

You have met with your prospective social media client and obtained a commitment based on your pricing and strategy you discussed with them. Now it is time to generate the proposal.

I want to reiterate that your social media “proposal” is not really a proposal at all. You have already proposed what you are going to be doing and outlined the costs associated. Your proposal is really an agreement. It’s your closing tool, not your pitch or sales tool. I say this based on experience and want to be sure your agency does not spend needless hour generating formal proposals for prospects that are not really prospects or more importantly are not really interested.

Here are the Important Elements your social media proposal / agreement should contain:

1) Personalized Header

Just like every social media strategy is different, so should each of your proposals be. Take the time to customize each proposal/agreement for your prospective client, starting with the Header of your document.

2) Introduction

Remember that your new client will often be oblivious about social media marketing, your processes or the over goals of the program. Always include an introduction that outlines these things as it relates to your client. Give them an overview of what the document is for and what the goals and intent of the program will be. We always tried to keep this to a single, concise paragraph.

3) Bullets Detailing What’s Covered

After your brief introduction, include the 3 to 5 bullet points that outline the various components of what you will be providing them. Make these section headings for the subsequent portions of the agreement that will contain all the detail. The idea here is to provide your prospective client with a quick snapshot of the components of their social media marketing program at a glance.

4) General Strategy and Social Marketing Integration Consulting

This section has two distinct purposes. 1) To outline the reasons for using social media marketing and it’s proper integration throughout the clients web and offline presence. and 2) To reiterate the holes in their current social media marketing and integrated marketing components.

You will want to be careful not to insult, but be detailed enough to ensure they clearly understand proper use and the issues they are facing with their marketing efforts currently.

5) Social Media Strategy and Execution

This represents the largest section of your social media proposal/agreement document. We are first going to bring more detail to the comments made in item number four above. This will be 2-3 paragraphs that more specifically list the missing components in their current efforts as well as the “opportunities” for making it more effective within social media. You will also want a leading paragraph about what your company will be doing to resolve these issues with your social media program.

The most important part of this section will be your numbered list. This list will clearly define any and all functions you will be doing for the client in the following areas:

A) Set up (account or customization of existing social accounts)

B) Strategy Development – Content strategy, Community development strategy and overall strategy

C) Consulting on social media integration across their entire marketing presence

D) Daily execution functions (how many times posting, to which platforms – i.e. Twitter, Fanpage, Linkedin, Personal Facebook, etc.) – Details about relationship building, engagement, etc.

Again, just like during your meeting with your prospect, you want to show the enormous amount of time, functions and efforts are going to be put into their program. You want it to remind them that they could never do it internally and need you. It will also serve as the contract details of their program and the minimum activity levels you are committing to.

6) Pricing & Terms

You will definitely want to include these as separate sections in your proposal agreement. They are extremely important for obvious reasons. Not so obvious are the details that we developed that made a huge difference in our business. We will be detailing those for you in Part 4 of 5.

7) Signatures

It’s an agreement. Make sure you get the client to sign and agree to all of the terms and pricing, etc. This will save you a lot of time down the road.

Remember, your agency’s social media proposal document needs to be detailed and cover specific things to protect you and also help to close your prospect. These points have been very helpful for us in our previous agency work and can benefit you as well.

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

4 Comments

Filed under Facebook, Social content management, Social Media Content, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, Strategy, Twitter, Uncategorized