It's 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. Your brand is buzzing on Twitter and there may be an opportunity to capitalize. Do you know where the folks at your agency are at?
While anybody who has worked in agency world for any length of time is familiar with long hours and grueling schedules, there's a decent chance that the people you need to reach on that hypothetical Sunday afternoon aren't sitting in front of the office at a computer manning your company's social media dashboard.
Brian Mandelbaum, an agency executive who has worked at Razorfish and Saatchi & Saatchi, believes that needs to change. So he's starting a social media-focused agency that promises around-the-clock staffing to ensure that its clients can respond to buzz -- good or bad -- whenever it strikes.
Mandelbaum tells AdAge that while many agencies are technically 24/7 operations due to their global footprints, most don't have the social media expertise to effectively manage their clients' social media presences. There's also the issue of which offices handle which clients; a client may have a global agency, but most of the time, one or two offices are responsible for its account.
Social media sets its own hours
As Mandelbaum sees it, this won't work in the age of social media. And there's evidence to suggest he's right. AdAge's Rupal Parekh points out that a recent Buddy Media survey found that brands in certain verticals are more likely to see higher engagement rates on Saturdays and Sundays -- two days when brands are less likely to be manning the helm. Another study conducted by YesMail came to similar conclusions about Facebook.
The research makes logical sense: while many consumers use social media throughout the day, most will probably have greater access to it during non-work hours. If your agency is technically running a nine-to-five operation, your brand may be out of luck because consumers expect their schedules to drive brand interactions.
Even if we accept that social media has its own schedule that agencies and their clients need to work around, there are reasons to believe that Mandelbaum's model will face an uphill battle.
One of the biggest problems: recruiting talent. Agency life can be demanding, and adding a 24/7 proposition to the mix doesn't make for an easier sell. One recruiting firm MD told AdAge:
For my candidates, salary wouldn't do it; they are being paid pretty well, and people in social media and digital can get good jobs right now. More and more are pushing back and trying to protect their family time. I think there'd be tremendous resistance.
There's also the issue of quality. When crisis hits, an immediate response may (or may not) be necessary. But when the day-to-day management of social presences and campaigns puts agencies in the position where they feel the need for speed outweighs the need for prudence, agencies may be putting their clients in harm's way. After all, it's easy to learn to execute something quickly, but getting strategy right and making sure that what you're doing fits with the strategy usually takes time.
Looking at the future
If Mandelbaum is successful with his new agency, expect to see others like it pop up. But clients will need to do some deep thinking before they decide that the 24/7 agency is the solution to some of social media's many challenges.
The best agency relationships are collaborative and given how important social media has become to so many companies, clients will need to ask themselves a simple but profound question: if our agency is capable of managing the social mediascape on a 24/7 basis, can we be there at all hours to give them the support they need to do a good job?