It feels like a lifetime ago, now. But I remember clearly, during a mid-February Partner meeting at Nexa, where we discussed some of the potential challenges ahead of us, should the Coronavirus start spreading into the regions that we operate in. What could be the impact and more importantly if the ‘worst case’ scenario did happen, what would be our plan? It’s difficult to pinpoint any occasion over the past 15 years, where a single partner meeting has directly changed the way we operate but in the future, we can hopefully look back at this day with positive memories and a constant reminder that our ability to react to any situation, is still possibly our greatest strength.
As a business, we offer multiple service lines providing many of these to clients across the globe. The majority of these services have been developed by us as a direct consequence of understanding the needs of our clients irrespective of what our competitors or our industry was suggesting. Over the last 15 years, this philosophy has served us well. To clarify, having such a diverse service portfolio for an agency of our size isn't the norm. Strategically, the decision to do this was based on the how fast digital technology had been evolving during the last decade. Fast-moving industries are exciting. But they can also be dangerous and if your area of expertise suddenly has limited worth in the market, the future of your business could be threatened. Having a diverse portfolio of services also reduces the risk of collapse during times of business catastrophe and crisis - similar to what we and other businesses across the globe have faced in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. At times like this, some service lines have the potential to become redundant while others flourish as market conditions dictate thinking and impact priorities.
At Nexa, we identified, during that fateful meeting in February, that our Social Media offering was perhaps the most at risk, but we were also aware that the strategies behind many of our social engagements are focused on generating revenue (or at the very least, creating new business opportunities) for our clients using social media platforms. Although not a fail safe, the fact that we have demonstrated the ability to generate revenue for clients, would hopefully limited the potential impact.
Prospective clients to this day are always surprised that we propose social media strategies designed to increase their revenue and over the years we've become very good at demonstrating the ability to achieve this. This has also helped us to build a reputation as a results-driven agency and the roots of this go back to a decision made over 6 years ago. During that time, social media experts across the globe were highlighting the need for brands ‘not to sell’ on social media and that they should use these platforms for brand awareness, brand engagement and customer service purposes. But this didn't make sense to us. We're agency leaders, but first and foremost, we're business owners and we knew that agencies that focused on using social media to generate brand awareness for their clients were quite simply, disposable. Our approach therefore, was to combine brand awareness, engagement and return on investment (ROI) with a larger focus on generating revenue for both B2C and B2B focused businesses. This also meant that we had to build strong expertise in social media advertising.
We realised back then that anyone can boost a post but to generate revenue you have to have a deep understanding of the systems and complex algorithms that drive social media platforms. We traveled around the world to conferences and heard first hand from the tech teams behind the likes of Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, how best to create and publish content that would maximize both organic and paid reach.
That conscious decision to be the best we possibly can, when it comes to Social advertising has helped to keep a team of 18 team members, who directly contribute to our social media offering, in jobs and has helped to provide us with an extremely healthy sales pipeline even during this crisis.
To be clear, I have zero problem with brands that focus all their social energy on creative as their social strategy. In fact, if you're a global consumer brand with followers and fans in its hundreds of thousands or millions, that’s most likely what I would recommend. But if you're like the 99% of other companies, a good creative won't solve the many problems your business faces today.
We have to think differently and if you're investing time, resource and money at a time like this on Social Media when every decision is crucial, you have to look for a tangible return. As a company head if you are asking your agency more questions on creative and less on the actual performance of that creative, it's time to look differently. The good thing is, that you can make this change quite quickly.
Is creative important? Absolutely. A good social creative targeted to the right audience, with the right offering can impact a business in ways I didn't think were possible. Just a few hours ago, I finished a zoom call with one of our KSA clients where in the first 15 days of running their Social Media campaigns they have closed sales of $70,000 and we haven't even passed $1,000 in advertising spend. Now this is unique, our team is quite ambitious and we have been doing this for a long time but that type of return in such a short period of time is unheard of, especially considering the impact of COVID-19 on retail businesses. But this wasn't by accident and to get to this stage took many hours of Zoom calls, client education and trust building activities with the client.
We could have set low expectations and said to them, not to expect sales and I still believed they would have signed our contract. But that's not what we do. Instead, we guaranteed that their Instagram feed would contain high-quality content and be full of engaging posts, while fully executing a plan designed to generate sales through Social Media.
Don’t sell on social? Well these sales just may have been the boost needed by the client that not only saved jobs but gave them confidence that their future is bright and in showing this, provided us with another strong partner for hopefully a very long time. We hate being referred to as service providers and buy generating direct revenue for the client are now being introduced throughout their regional offices as their digital 'partner'.
I guess the biggest takeaway here for businesses is to try a different approach if your current social media strategy isn't generating new business opportunities or direct revenue. Despite the doom and gloom around us, there are many revenue possibilities as well as opportunities to explore new revenue streams.
Be brave and explore the possibilities for your business.