Advertising agencies on Facebook: do you practice what you preach?

At Holler we started redirecting all visitors of our company website to our Facebook page. While you can still access our “regular” site (moved to an “On Holiday” address), most visitors stay on the facebook version. Even people without a facebook account (a.k.a. 0.23% of Australia) can see the customised tab we built in FBML. I was recently interviewed by the editors of SHIFT! in Japan on this topic and thought it might be interesting to hear other people’s experience and opinions. Here are a (very few) places and activities I stumbled upon:

International

  • AKQA and Big Spaceship are very popular (in number of fans) and spread lots of case studies, job news, awards and thoughts this way
  • Razorfish/NeueDigitale in Germany (one of my former work places) is very chatty and shares 3rd party links
  • R/GA use it a lot for recruitment and conference & media appearances
  • SapientNitro post work and industry news from any of their many offices

AU / NZ

  • Resn distributes their many award and job news
  • Digital Eskimo and Visual Jazz mostly draw their blog feeds into their  (non vanity URL) pages
  • Bullseye are either heavy on the BBQ or Blackmore’s news
  • Circul8 also redirect their URL and run a similar gamut of posts to Holle
  • Pusher run (against FB guidelines) as a person rather than a page
  • RMG Connect had integrated Facebook Connect on their playful “regular” site (unfortunately now dissolved into the video-laden JWT site)

Surprising is that many international networks don’t seem to do anything on FB or when they do have a page take it to any interesting level. I would like to do a quick survey of AU/NZ agencies on Facebook. Which ones do you value and became a fan of? What are success criteria, do you think you would “buy” fans through FB-ads and promotions? What is the best tonality for clients, talents, employees alike?

Here is my bit about “Holler’s what and why on Facebook”

Holler on FB

Holler on FB

Background:
In my experience agency websites are a one-time affair for users. Even your own clients never return to check up on your latest and greatest work. This leads most agencies to start putting out a newsletter, and it is uncanny how soon those slow down to a trickle and get abandoned. At Razorfish/NeueDigitale I started a podcast which died an unceremonious death after one episode (doesn’t really qualify as a podcast really). The NetX newsletter was dumped after three issues. A newsletter suggests that all content has to be fairly significant and important to the business of the reader. Internal culture and social news hardly feel appropriate – which is strange because creative agencies’ reputation thrives on how much extra-curricular and non-commercial things go on. And it is an important decision factor for talent as well as clients.
Facebook on the other hand is a place where the private and public sphere mix harmoniously, where social and commercial infos can blend in one stream. Holler has been servicing different brands in Facebook for 2 years now and 2 of our staff are full-time content and community managers.

Strategy:
Since we can communicate more often about all aspects of agency life in Facebook and because we know how to move in this space, we decided to redirect hollersydney.com.au to our Facebook page. Any visitor is welcome to still check our “regular” site onholiday.hollersydney.com.au

Execution:
We built a customised tab in FBML displaying a little time-lapse film of our studio, 4 pieces of work and a bit of the usual “This is us” copy with a hint at getting in touch or (dare we say it?) “become a fan“. (Note to self, the line”click that Fan button” should say “LIKE” by now).
This is the page that every new (non-fan) visitor of Holler would land on. Updates happen naturally on the Wall, if a post needs more links, space and integrated media we use our customized Tumblr blog.

Results:
Since we switched to a Facebook page the amount of fans and job applications from talent have steadily increased. We can stay in touch with this growing audience on an ad-hoc basis, in a casual tone and without worrying if messages fit a certain category. It is hardly an accurate measurement but we believe that our rating of second hottest digital agency in the region is also a result of more people staying in touch with our work as well as culture.

Addition (29/07/2010):
Geekvertising collated a list of the likes/fans of UK and US agencies split by networks. I reckon it is time to ask the people running these page for a more qualitative analysis, using the amount of interactions per post, photos, intervals of postings and so on. Admittedly, the effects of these pages on the agencies might only be supported by anecdotal evidence (e.g. better qualified applicants).

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7 responses to “Advertising agencies on Facebook: do you practice what you preach?

  1. My former workplace circul8 have done a similar thing after they were anointed as one of facebook’s officially named service providers partners (or something similar).

    http://www.circlu8.com.au

  2. Thanks, Matt. I have added Circul8 and will hopefully publish a more comprehensive list soon. Any ideas for categories or measurement of quality/success (apart from liked/fans)?

  3. Hallo Tim,

    durch Zufall bin ich auf deinen Blog gestoßen und finde deine Überlegungen dazu, wie man als Agentur Facebook am besten nutzt, interessant. Bin auch gerade am überlegen, weiß aber noch nicht, ob für mich als Ein-Frau-Unternehmen dabei zuviel Aufwand entsteht.

    Seid ihr ab und zu mal in Deutschland?

    Liebe Grüße
    Andrea

    (Ex-BBDO-Projektmanagerin in Mobile Projekten gemeinsam mit dir…)

  4. Hi Andrea, your question about “should my one-person company have a facebook page” is a good one. In my opinion it should. You can politely inform your contacts/peers about what’s happening, new work launching, getting feedback, putting the word out in case you need support. And it gets you into the habit of brushing up your case studies and working on your own PR.

  5. It would be good to see other more meaningful ways to judge how successful these pages are. I fear that relying on easy stats like fan numbers is just as bad as only measuring banner advertising based on clicks and nothing else.

    Fan engagement is probably the only other metric you can get to without analytics. Maybe look at how many people use the discussions or comment on posting.

    • good point about engagement. if i survey other pages (as a non-owner) I will have to manually count these metrics but definitely worth it. Also, post frequency and variety is a good measure of how successful the page is in terms of internal acceptance. I find that a good FB page adds a lot of cohesion to the work force.

  6. Hi,
    very interesting post… We’re currently wondering at the agency if we need a fan page? (we are a major ad agency in Belgium)

    This discussion lead us to lively debate. Opponents suggest that it can be a threat for us if we don’t reach an attractive number of fans. If I monitor other Belgian agencies, only one has reached an acceptable number fan (+- 1500)

    I need help to find counter-arguments… To promote a fan page for an ad agency.

    Thanks.

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