The agency model is fast-paced and client-centric. Pair this with the realm of social media where timely content reigns supreme and platform changes happen overnight — those agency characteristics are further amplified.
There’s no time for communication breakdowns when keeping those agency wheels turning efficiently is your top priority. This is why it’s important to account for ways to prevent exactly that early on in your process documentation.
As you work to train your team and onboard new business, keep these tips in mind for client communication at a social media agency.
Define Expectations Early and Often
You can’t fall back on assumptions when working with social media management clients (or anyone, really). When things aren’t explicitly said (or defined in a contract), it’s usually because we’re making assumptions.
So be sure to take the time necessary to properly set expectations around what your team will deliver through the scope of work and processes defined in a client contract.
An easy way to make sure that you’re on the same page is to repeat a client’s ask back to them.
For example, if a client shoots off an email of demands, respond back with your interpretation of what they asked for to ensure that everyone’s on the same page.
It certainly might seem to save time with a quick two-word confirmation instead, but I promise that you’ll save yourself from possible disconnect and wasted time on mistakes with thorough upfront communication.
Get Everything in Writing
Great client communications will make your team look great when your clients report back progress to their executive team. As a result, you’ll also make your clients look good and help their business succeed by prioritizing good communications.
Building off the example mentioned above, if a client hops on a call with an account manager asking for X, Y, Z, make it best practice for the manager to recap with the client afterward via email.
They’ll want to do this anyway in communicating the feedback to operations (those executing tasks).
This level of diligence will show a client that they were being heard — further building trust with the capabilities of your agency. It also gives confirmation of the agreed-upon deliverables in the event that a client comes back demanding something out of scope.
Establish Main Points of Contact
In most social media agencies, distinctions are often made between those responsible for doing the work and those responsible for communicating with clients. However it makes sense for your agency is likely fine, so long as expectations are set in terms of who owns the client relationship.
So for every new social client you bring on, establish a main point of contact that the client has reasonable access to (more on that in a bit) whenever they have an idea or question. Likewise, make sure that you’ve established a main point of contact at the client’s company so that everyone’s clear on who to communicate with to move something forward.
In all likelihood, both sides will involve multiple points of contact. Just make sure that your main points of contact have the authority necessary to succeed in their roles.
Hold Your Accounts Team to Weekly Check-ins
You’re sure to have your fair share of noisy clients — the ones that are seemingly never satisfied and needy at all hours. But for every one of these will also be clients that you never hear from.
Even if these absentee clients feel like a reprieve from the alternative, no news is not always good news.
As an agency, you want to be constantly proving value and making yourself heard. Hold your accounts team to weekly check-ins with clients via email.
Here’s a template for what that check-in email might look like:
Hey [Client Name],
I'm checking in to update you about recent social media performance. Are you happy with how we're doing so far?
Here are a few things that happened this week:
[X Campaign update]
Pro: We think [X] worked.
Con: We think [X] didn't work. To address this, we’re going to try [X] next week.
Performance KPI updates:
[Brief summary of performance and thoughts on why metrics are improving/declining]
Actions for the week:
[Optional ideas we would like to test out]
[Any needs we have from you or need sign off]
I welcome any questions you might have and look forward to working more on this in the coming week!
Even if there’s nothing new and exciting to report, consistent client communication keeps everyone engaged and makes your clients aware of what your team is doing for them. It should also create a top-of-mind, open line for feedback from clients — giving operations more time to account for timely requests.
The social media world changes fast and things come up that you must address in a timely manner. Besides weekly check-in emails, you’ll want to create other lines of communication for staying in touch, as necessary.
Ideally, you’ll also have regular phone calls or, better yet, in-person meetings with clients for recapping past efforts, sharing analytics data, and planning strategy moving forward. These types of meetings should happen at least monthly but possibly more frequently depending on the breadth of work you’re doing for the client.
While these meetings can certainly eat up a lot of your team’s time, they’re necessary for creating confidence in your team’s ability to do the job you were hired to do.
A messaging service like Slack is ideal for creating an ongoing connection between team members and clients. It can help all parties preserve their inboxes from filling up when a quick question or update is all that’s necessary at the time.
It also provides a convenient interface for segmenting different types of conversations:
- Talking about the competition in one channel
- Social mentions in need of a response in another channel
- Specific marketing initiatives in other channels.
The main setback of using Slack? The expectation of an immediate response.
Which leads us to the next section:
Set Reasonable Client Boundaries
Here’s the thing, your clients don’t know what they don’t know.
They don’t know how many clients you’re dealing with on a daily basis or how many hours it’ll take to account for the last-minute campaign they want to launch.
For your team’s sanity and success, you have to strike a balance between what’s reasonable in the realm of client communications.
By this, I mean that your team members shouldn’t have to be glued to their phones 24/7.
To make this happen:
- Explain to clients how they can expect to get ahold of various members of their agency team.
- Define a timeframe for responses.
- Avoid unnecessary tension by communicating boundaries and professionally raising the flag when there’s a breakdown in process.
Be Proactive with Suggestions and Deliverables
Your client relationship is two-sided, meaning it’s just as much on your team to communicate as it is the other side’s.
It’s important to keep in mind that clients partner with your agency for its specific expertise. The onus is on your team to be proactive in driving social media efforts forward — rather than simply delivering on contract line items month after month.
Create space in your team’s process for regular client regroups and brainstorms. This should be a time when operations and accounts can come together to evaluate efforts, communicate grievances, and agree on any necessary next steps.
Blocking off an hour of time each week for an in-person meeting between the various members of your team is a great start for encouraging productive brainstorming meetings.
Accounts teams can then get into the habit of proactively reaching out to clients with their thoughts and guidance. And also open the door to potential up-sells.
Final Thoughts: How to Manage Client Communication at a Social Media Agency
Communication is easy to do poorly when you take for granted how important it is in a client-facing business. Work with your team to understand the best course of action across different scenarios and how they should be expressing themselves relative to their social media management clients’ demands.
The more upfront work you put into developing your client communication skillset and related processes, the less likely you are to run into instances of miscommunication down the road.
Keep everyone in your agency aligned with a social media management tool that offers a smart inbox, white-label reports, and so much more. Start your free trial of Social Report today.
Maddy Osman is an SEO Content Strategist who works with clients like AAA, Automatic, Kinsta, and BigCommerce. Her background in WordPress web design contributes to a well-rounded understanding of SEO and how to connect brands to relevant search prospects. Learn more about her process and experience on her website and read her latest articles on Twitter @MaddyOsman.