How Some Digital Marketing Agencies Are Ruining Social Media’s Reputation

I’d like to begin with a disclaimer: This article is not about ALL digital marketing agencies. It is starting the dialogue about a fairly undiscussed topic so far. As with any industry you will always get people trying to do what others do and at the same time, cut all the corner corners, spend less and charge more. This isn’t the first nor the last time we will see an industry develop these con artists, but I do want to help others spot these types of agencies and avoid them.

Sometimes digital marketing agencies are a great place to start before making an investment. Agencies *should* be able to provide you with reasonable deals that are a cheaper alternative to hiring and training someone yourself. They *should* also have the software available to provide you with content you wouldn’t have the time or facilities to create on your own.

However, there are agencies out there that take advantage of some business owners’ lack of knowledge on digital media.

A good agency will provide you with a tailored package that makes absolute sense to your company and industry. The agency will get to know you and research your industry thoroughly, as well as ask you what you want to get out of this venture. Not only should the approach differ depending on industries, but it should vary if you’re after sales? followers? website traffic? etc.

For example, industries like construction or manufacturing (or other B2B businesses) are not going to benefit as much on platforms like Facebook, the way retailers of handbags (B2C) or personal trainers will. Someone in manufacturing should be on LinkedIn where their customers and connections are. Meanwhile, a personal trainer might use LinkedIn to increase their online presence, but their focus should be on Facebook and Instagram, maybe even Snapchat. Somewhere more visual!

The problem with the majority of bad agencies is that they apply one technique (probably the only thing they know) to all of their customers. This results in manufacturers on Instagram where absolutely none of their buyers are and casual / informal content on LinkedIn for a Yoga instructor. It’s completely inappropriate.

If your agency is doing something that you don’t deem suitable to your industry, ask to see the research or logic behind that decision. Don’t be afraid to have an input. You will know more about your industry than a bad agency will. A very poor agency won’t do much more research other than check your website a few times and maybe ask for your competitors so they can see what they are doing (and copy them).

Another way to recognise this dangerously broad approach is to ask early on who else this agency are working for. Most agencies will have agreements saying they can show prospective customers who they are working with, as this is a sure fire way of proving you have a good track record. Let’s face it, if your client was Coca Cola, you’d want to show off about that right?

Comparing the social media content your company has put on the profile to other active customers of the same agency is an easy way to spot this wide brush stroke technique.

For instance, is everybody getting exactly 5 posts a day? Is there an order to these posts? News followed by a joke, followed by a poll? If you don’t have access to other clients, compare your own social media on a daily basis. Does every day start out with a lame motivational quote, followed by a link to your website. Are the same images being recycled week in, week out?

Another way to spot agencies that really don’t know what they are doing is by starting a little research into the industry yourself.

For example, right now, if you just type into Google ‘Social Media Trends’ there will be recurring themes that come up over and over again. Right now, this is videos and in particular (May 2017) Live Streaming.

Knowing this, takes very little research. Sure your understanding of it may not be crystal clear, but if the hottest social media trend right now is video and your agency hasn’t posted one video .. you better stop and think, “do these guys even know what they’re doing?”

Don’t let them fool you that you need to provide the video content either. If an agency is advertising themselves as social media experts they should know that videos are all the rage right now. There are agencies out there that will look after you. Don’t let them fool you that they need the facilities or the footage provided. These days smartphones are just as good as cameras. If you go to a Business Expo, invite your agency along. They can live stream throughout the day. If you’re doing a sale in your shop or a launch of a new event, say come and get some photos.

At the end of the day, if I were a freelancer, I would be the one making these suggestions, not expecting them to. But if you do offer and your agency still declines, I can only shrug my shoulders and recommend you go elsewhere.

Myself and some friends in the industry have witnessed the behind the scenes of some poor digital marketing agencies and the same problems come up time and time again.

The staff are very young, some (most) are interns or apprentices who receive very little training not to mention pay. They follow a formula of post X followed by Y every day. Meanwhile, the sales team prey on business owners who have little to no experience with technology and social media.

One final tip, check the company’s own social media and don’t fool for paid likes/followers (yes this is still a thing). If they have 23k followers on Facebook but get 0 likes on most of their posts, their followers are either inactive or fake, or both. Again, if they don’t post at all or their posts are bad quality, this should be a big, fat red flag.

You’d be surprised at how many worrying agencies like this exist and trade quite easily.

 

My Solution?

If now really isn’t the time to take someone on board, that’s fine, but do your research into where you want to outsource it to.

The smaller companies and one man bands are more likely to look after you and be more affordable too. They have more time and focus to put on you and they will be happy to research and learn about your business. Remember, in a bigger agency you might speak to a salesperson and tell them everything about your company, but they might not relay this information to the entire team responsible for your marketing.

There are plenty of people who do know what they are doing and have passion and effort to inject into your brand. But as someone who has watched poor marketing come about as a result of poor agencies I do feel responsible for beginning the dialogue and raising the awareness of these “black hat” digital marketing agencies who profit from the naivety of others.

 

Why do I care?

As somebody who is passionate about social and digital marketing, having agencies giving social media a bad name makes my life miserable too. Achieving poor results for already social-media-dubious companies just demolishes further the relationship between social media and business.

It reaffirms the (slowly declining, thank God) belief, that social media is no good for business development, which many social media experts find themselves battling on a daily basis.

Regretting Another Anniversary

Sometimes things slip away. Weeks, months, nay, years go by and you can’t believe how long something has been.

Sometimes anniversaries sneak up on us. Am I right? Have you ever missed your wedding anniversary?  

But wait, I’m not talking about a traditional relationship anniversary, but in another way I am referring to a kind of relationship. A virtual relationship. Our relationship. The relationship between blogger and reader, social media guru and fellow like minded folk, writers and writers.

Running a blog, like anything in writing and the media, requires constant work. You cannot write a novel if you ignore the previous chapters for 7 months. You can’t perform poetry if you don’t keep reading it and practicing it on your own in the front room. You won’t grow a social media following if you don’t update regularly. 

My point is, and I am beating about the bush a bit today (can you tell I’m out of practice?) that my blog has been left for basically two years. Reason being: an internship. And an MA. Excuses, excuses… I’m sorry.

Understandably, careers and Master’s degrees do have a habit of taking over one’s life. But I am now free. And I am ready to do this for fun again!!! 

I don’t plan for many of my future posts to be stream of consciousness like this one is today. But I do want to update it regularly with my writing, my tips and advice and some silly bits along the way. 

Stay tuned, please don’t let me forget to check in from time to time

xx

Breaking out of your Comfort Zones

Why do we have comfort zones and how do we know we’ve broken out of them?

Is being in a comfort zone just recognizing something that you’ve done before and not feeling anxious about doing it again? Do you just need to feel nervous in order to know you’ve done something outside of your comfort zone?

There are so many hurdles every day that we have to get over and for some it is harder than others.

Starting a new job is scary enough, but for others, just getting a new bus can be the scariest part of it all! Anxiety in every walk of life is common and I am writing this mainly to prove to a lot of people that they are not alone. We are all more anxious than we let on but we mustn’t let it get the better of us. Sometimes, we just have to put our head down and run full speed into the wind. No matter what you’re thinking in the back of your head! Those voices who are saying, this is too hard, let’s go back inside: You have to ignore those.

It’s easy to not doing something because the pain and fear that comes with it is just too much. I have been a no show for so many interviews because I have found the tiniest excuse and wriggled out. What’s embarrassing is I tell myself “That was fate, I wasn’t meant to work there,” or “What came next was meant to be.” But what is really quite frightening is that I could have really missed out on some seriously good opportunities if I had just shown up.

Thinking about the immediate future and how nice it would be if the feeling went away now isn’t helpful. Of course you won’t regret not doing it, because you’ll never have known what you missed. It’s not possible to regret in these situations. But what is possible is just to begin to imagine the sense of pride you might feel if you do achieve something. That overwhelming buzz that you can get so quickly will make up for every last ounce of anxiety you have ever felt in your entire life on this planet.

Obviously, the fear can return because there are always new things to do, but so will the excitement if you beat it again.

My recent big steps include quitting my job, getting an internship and having my own articles produced daily on their website. I have covered topics from dementia to virtual reality. If you’re interested you can follow me on Twitter @MeganAtSMF.

I was comfortable, pretty miserable, but comfortable at my old job. I knew how everything worked, I knew which toilet wouldn’t bite my bum, I knew all the people (all 3 of them) and I knew my bus route like the back of my hand. Quitting my job was easy, because I knew this internship would be life changing. But during my last two weeks at the job, suddenly the work wasn’t so bad and was 3 months with absolutely no money worth it? I had to remind myself constantly that I was suffering from “graduation goggles.”

As if moving to a workplace on the outskirts wasn’t frightening enough, I signed up for my first ever poetry open mic night, just a week after the move.

It didn’t really hit me until the night of the event how scary it would be. I realised there was an actual hall, an actual microphone, an actual bar with actual bar staff and more than my boyfriend and best friend listening.

pic

It was daunting and I might have had the help from a few whisky and cokes but I read my poem and shocked not only myself, but even my friends. Everyone was surprised with my performance because I managed to deliver it like I was totally cool and calm. I certainly didn’t expect my passion to come through, at all.

The video wasn’t spectacular but do I plan to post it here.

Try the Facebook link but I can’t guarantee it will work:

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10204983109071915&pnref=story

In case that doesn’t work I also have the poem here, which is just a poem about having some balls!

The Poem that was Worthy of an Open Mic Night

You’re a poet

Embrace it

be brave and don’t fear it.

“It’s old fashioned, it’s boring

it’s so gay.”

Says who? Teenagers.

A truly formidable group of young people.

End up with A stars in English lit and suddenly

don’t forsake it.

So it’s for open mic night

I’ve turned up to the door and never walked in

I’m a Chicken with a capital C, because you see

it scares me. You scare me.

Because I can’t let it be free.

Because I am silly.

The poems write me,

they’re always there, my control.

Don’t want to lose my shadow.

My fear is a disease, where it’s easy to not seize a passion because

others just don’t feel the same.

But it’s time to stand up, be a woman

know flow and grow against this society

that doesn’t move from the truths that it

thinks it knows,

that poetry

isn’t cool.

I’m not a singer, I’m no performer.

Yet poetry brings that out in me.

So here is an ode to a poem, this poem infact,

that marks the occasion where I learnt to distract

myself from this thought, that was killing me inside,

that I couldn’t open up. That I wanted to hide.

So my poem, this poem, I just want to thank

you for giving me the oomph and giving me the knack to

get up on this stage and nearly pee my pants

but it’s not cut me down, it’s not made me weak.

I hear my voice is loud and it’s ready to speak.

Internship Week 1 – Feeling Professional

internships

It is week 1 of my internship at The SMF Group in Cambridge. I am a content writer for their blog covering all things social media related. It’s absolutely amazing to be able to sit here and write, all day long. This has certainly given me the fighting spirit to keep writing and not to ever give up. It’s so worth it when you realise how many people are reading your work.

Here is the link to my first 3 pieces published on the group’s blog in my 1st week:

1. Is about Virtual Reality apps in Facebook

http://www.socialmediafrontiers.com/2015/02/virtual-reality-apps-on-facebook.html#.VO7id_msX4Y

2. Focuses on Burberry’s uses for Twitter

http://www.socialmediafrontiers.com/2015/02/burberrys-new-use-for-twitter.html#.VO8Dd_msX4Z

3. Looks at Facebook’s increasing number of advertisers

http://www.socialmediafrontiers.com/2015/02/facebooks-2-million-advertisers.html#.VPA7NfmsX4Z

You can follow me on Twitter @MeganAtSMF

I have written and researched quite a few more articles so I’m hoping to get them up on the site soon, just down to my editor now.

I’m loving this internship and I’m already dreading my 3 months being up! And to any student or aspiring writer out there, you need to get out there and intern!

I love sitting in this office, I love having my own desk, I want to be a journalist so bad. I could happily do this for a few years.

Who Gave You Your Oscar?

Who Gave You Your Big Break?

This time two weeks ago I started to work out my notice at a computer outsourcing firm. They were the last two weeks in a living hell, and why was I leaving? Because I had finally got my big break. I was going to start that intern lifestyle. Okay, so I won’t be getting paid for a while but I think I can cope for a while on my last pay cheque. At this stage in my life I cannot turn down an internship as a content writer when that’s what I want to do forever. It’s terrifying knowing that tomorrow I am taking my first step on a career. This isn’t a job, this is what I went to school for. This is actually career-worthy stuff.

I know I’m not quite living that Carrie Bradshaw American dream but this is quite a big shot at it. And hey, I’m sitting at my desk, leg’s crossed, in just a towel, hair up, laptop at a funny angle. I may as well have some Chinese takeaway as well, just to finish the picture. Or a cosmopolitan? That sounds good actually.

So anyway, all this stuff about starting careers and having a big break made me wonder who have I got to thank for all this? I read a quote from writer of The Miniaturist Jessie Burton:

Yes, you work hard, but what the hell else is there to do, when no one is going to do it for you? And alas, working at something does not mean you will be rewarded in the way you thought you would be. But this does not mean that when you do find reward, you should think it was only because of your hard work. You also got lucky. The world is enormous and brimming with misfortune. We should not be ashamed of luck. We should try and pass it on. I intend to do so in 2015.

Luck? At first I thought “pfft,” no way, I worked hard for this. I deserve it. But then I thought, look at all the people I know who work hard and don’t necessarily get what they want. In fact, I was told that those graduating with 1st class degrees are less likely to succeed than those with a lower qualification. Maybe they lack the creativity to progress past the initial school-like environment.

But, still I certainly never considered myself a lucky person, in fact I normally say I’m quite the opposite. But now, I’m thinking that like Jessie, I should be grateful, I should keep up the hard work and be ready to pass on my good luck to others.

Let’s take a few steps back and see where my good luck has come from. It was September 2013 and I was entering my final year of university. Work was at an all-time high and I was going through a pretty traumatic breakup.  It was safe to say I was heading for a breakdown. So, out of nowhere I’m approached by some pals who knew me through my love for American Football and they casually mention how running their Uni team was a bit too much work and would I be interested in helping. There were 2 or 3 of them behind this decision and I actually didn’t know them as well as I thought I did at the time, but of course I said yes. It was definitely an escapist thing. Somewhere else to focus whilst my personal life crumbled and my degree was getting too much. Because of these 3 fellas I became quite a big name around the football scene. I met all the coaches and by the end of the season, the HC of the County Premiership team found me and got me shadowing his wife to be the GM of their team. Now those 3 original guys who really gave me my big break into that world aren’t prevalent parts of my life. Not through anyone’s fault, just time and drifting lifestyles. I still see them, but it wasn’t until now I realised I had them to thank for all my success in the world of American Football. Obviously, at every step along the way there have been people to thank. The woman who took me the extra way and her husband who introduced us have been massively influential and will continue to help me in my first seasons.

But it’s not just American Football related success that all this has brought me. It meant that 9 months ago I met a guy who’s become very important to me. Because of him, I’ve stayed in Cambridge. Because of that I’ve started a Masters. I have a gorgeous place to live. I’ve met some amazing people whilst trying to fund my way through a postgraduate degree. And my general managerial skills have impressed in all my interviews. Who knows, it may have been the American Football stuff that got me the internship!? That combined with my crazy writing skills, of course.

It might just have been these 3 random guys who really didn’t know me and I didn’t know them, that got me where I am. It might be nothing to do with it.

The point of this blog is to make you think who have you go to thank for where you are now. Like all the people winning Oscars… Who’s been holding your hand literally, or from afar? Who’s never lost faith in you? Okay, so the Oscars has got me way too emotional and grateful, I think! So for my metaphorical Oscar, I want to thank the American Footballers, my best friend for being the Dion to my Cher, the fruit to my nut and Hugh to my Grant. I also want to thank my mumma bear for being so confident in me. And finally, for all the teachers/lecturers who have told me since Year 3 onwards, “You’re gonna be big, kid.”

Novels vs. Flash Fiction and Versace Boots

I am the epitome of a modern reader, that scandalous human being that is the reason “the novel” is considered a dying tradition. They’re great, they’re emotional, they have so much in them, but they take me about 16 million years to read. I have too many novels I can list off the top of my head that I have begun to read and never finished. Not because I lost interest in them, but because I couldn’t find the time before another novel was being forced down my throat by my tutors, or maybe I just forgot to finish it, or maybe my holiday came to an end and I was forced back into normal society where, you know, you actually have to do things.

I suppose, I’ve been cursed with slow reader’s syndrome. But unlike many troopers who push on and finish Wuthering Heights over the space of 3 years, I move on.  Mostly, because I have to. As a writer and therefore a reader, you are always being pushed to discover new things. When you meet in-laws or catch up with relatives or speak to a fellow scholar they always have a suggestion: “Oh, well have you read this, it’d interest you.”

I have a list on my BlackBerry (Yep, still a proud BB owner) of nearly 50 novels, poems or stories that people have suggested to me and I do plan to get round to them. Sometimes, I have a cheeky peak at the opening paragraphs on Amazon, using that handy “Look Inside” tool. I have become a master of BS. I can probably convince you I have read every book under the sun, just by reading a few paragraphs here and there.

When I was about 13 I started reading my first, still to this day, unfinished novel: Diana Wynne Jones The Merlin Conspiracy Trick or Treason. Now I picked the book because, quite simply, it was beautiful. I don’t even remember the plot, I remember there were two characters, two points of view and two worlds, accompanied with some rather interesting names – this in itself was my first experience of something “fantastical” and probably the reason I never attempted to read Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter (don’t kill me). I was not ever going to enjoy the world of wizards and unicorns. Not when it was so nice and wholesome and aimed at children. My wizards need to be strange, perverse and probably killed by Red Riding Hood or Cinderella with a phallic instrument before I’m even remotely interested.

My shameful list of unfinished novels include Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, I heard it had a fantastically written sex scene, I got to the sex scene in one night and was greatly disappointed and never read on, despite having enjoyed the book until then; Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood is one I want to finish but I read enough to get me through my essay and back up some points on child narrators. I was too busy writing to pick it up again; Moll Flanders – I’m alright leaving that one unfinished actually and there’s probably so many more. That was just what I’ve done in the last 4 months. Meanwhile, my total collective of finished novels in that time is one: Mary Olivier; A Life by May Sinclair. However, I think anybody who’s read that novel will understand that is a feat in itself to have read that cover to cover. I enjoyed it actually and it’s inspired me and I have since given stream of consciousness a go.

So, what was my point about Flash Fiction?

Flash is on its way in, like a pair of £2000 cut out gladiator boots with an open toe and a front zip from Versace. Which might I add were only made in size 36 and 37 and are already sold out in the 36. Yes, Flash is not for everyone, not yet anyway. And yes, a lot of people won’t let it replace the space in their hearts that the novel occupies. But flash works. A person can attain satisfaction and completion within mere moments. Whether it be on their commute, with their breakfast, before their date or booty call and even sneakily under their desk at work. Maybe I find flash easier, maybe I’m lazy? But it takes me time to write it and I feel I have achieved more if I can strike a feeling of pain, love, joy or laughter in someone with 500 words, not 500 pages.

But just for the record, Diana, great front cover. I was a sucker for it. I will forever wonder what the elephant had to do with the conspiracy.

Diana Wynne Jones hardback front cover

Diana Wynne Jones hardback front cover

Long Narrative.. A. K. A. The Novel

pulling-hair-out

Right, here I go again. I have a new PC and I ask for some patience whilst I get used to the keys. I’m suspicious my new purchase is letting me down as the ‘y’ key seems a bit temperamental.  Anyway, Oh, it happened there, see the ‘y’ wasn’t in ‘anyway’ on my first attempt. Ah, this is shaping up to be a rather useless new laptop.

So, this semester I am facing the biggest challenge of my life so far. lol. Writing a novel. lol. Stupid thing for a writer to say, but, it’s true and it’s my biggest confession: I cannot write novels. I have a mind blank when it comes to it and I don’t really know why. I can write short stories, poetry, blog entries *hey hey, you know, you know* but I simply cannot do novels.

I’m dreading it, I have to workshop it and everything, in front of people. Human people. Who are all older than me and probably aren’t working a million hours a week just to pay for their education. But there’s a reason I’m doing this to myself. The thing you may not know is I’m studying an MA in Creative Writing, ’cause I gotz to learn to write better, so they says. The options for this semester were not the most varied and fruitful. I had two choices, The Novel or Screenwriting. That’s it. You can imagine my face, staring blankly at the module choice form. The world knows I’m not a novelist but then…screenwriting. I have flashbacks to my BA days, my weakness was the screenplay. Time and time again I put hours into my screenplays, only for them to scrape at 2:1. A very low 2:1. Possibly just a 2:2 actually. Anyway, I can’t risk that again, not when I’m trying to Master Creative Writing. I can’t.

Also, I hate the concept of being a screen writer. I hate the fact you have to always write in the same tense, that no-one’s ever going to really read all your work, that other people, most likely strangers, will “interpret it” and then completely change it before it even gets to your viewers. Nope, nah, no way, not for me, thank you, goodbye now. I am a wholly selfish artist. My work is mine and I will always want control over it, I’m not kidding myself that my work’s perfect. I know if, finger’s crossed, I were to ever be published again, my editors would change A LOT. But they’d never take my idea from me and “make it their own” – which push come to shove, is all that film makers do. The only way you’d catch me writing a screenplay is if I were the film maker doing it and if I had a crew made up of 100 miniature Megans, all with the same idea.

Now, now, enough of the screenplay hate. They’re not for me and I’ve established that. So, I had no choice. The Novel was staring me in the face, laughing maniacally.

AND SO, on the 2nd of Feb, it begins. My first few tasks are being assigned to me, already. I will update you in due course. For now, I just need to get to PC  World, this post took over double my usual time to write. Apologies for any typos, I blame HP.