Agencies Aren’t Seeing the ROI in Social Media Advertising…Yet

What’s that story about the cobbler’s children?  Apparently, the story applies to public relations and advertising agencies as well, especially when it comes to lead generation via social media channels.

Demandbase and Focus reported a couple of months ago that new business development executives (across industries) can rely on their company’s website to generate a significant percentage of leads.  But not as many as through personal referral.  Social media pulled up the rear as the third most effective way for a company to generate leads.

Now, a new report seems to validate these findings, at least in the world of advertising and public relations.  While public relations and advertising agencies help clients navigate the dynamic social media marketing universe, few agencies are leveraging the full power of these networks for their own lead generation efforts.

According to the study, sponsored by digital marketing agency lonleybrand, a minuscule 17 percent of the senior agency executives polled say they buy ads on social networks to complement their lead gen efforts.

Deciding to advertise an agency’s services is not an inexpensive undertaking.  Generally, it’s the larger agencies who regularly buy print ads in the likes of PRWeek or ADWEEK, O’Dwyer’s and other PR and advertising industry publications.  The data from lonelybrand suggests the same holds true for agencies purchasing ads on social media networks.  Not a big surprise.

For example, 23 percent of the agencies who are using social network advertising are spending more than $10,000 each month on ads.  $10,000 per month is a big nut for anything less than a major agency.  The smaller (and harder working) independent agencies are pretty much excluded from that playing field.  But they can at least participate, albeit on a different playing field for now, through tiered buying — whereby smaller agencies can test the social media advertising waters by purchasing ads in small increments to compliment their digital marketing efforts.  Not a bad place to start.

Even then, once a prospect clicks on an agency’s ad on Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter, their next stop is either a landing page or the firm’s home page.

Given the substantial increase in competition among integrated marketing agencies, digital agencies, inbound marketing agencies, social media agencies, public relations agencies, advertising agencies, blended agencies, specialist firms and boutiques (how many categories am I leaving out?), in 2012 we could see a dramatic jump in the social media advertising numbers among agencies.

Smaller firms — and smaller companies in general — may be forced to get in the game eventually, and as long as they are seeing some ROI, they’d be foolish to not at least consider it.

By the way, when was the last time your firm got a qualified new business lead other than through a personal connection or referral or because your website came up in a Google search and the prospect liked what they saw?



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