SMM Chats: What It Takes To Run A Successful Digital Agency

SMM Chats: What It Takes To Run A Successful Digital Agency, According to Wendy Serrano

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Running a successful digital agency takes a lot of effort. Between meetings, managing social media, going to events and then doing the work.

How does one keep up?

In this edition of SMM Chats, we interview publicist, social media manager, and director of the successful digital agency, milkPR, Wendy Serrano.

She’s built a great reputation for herself and has an impressive list of clients including FitazFK, Sabo Skirt and Apero the Label, to name a few.

Wendy shares with us how she prioritises, her content calendar and her process for creating a solid social media strategy.

Image by: Get Together Photo for The Foundrs Team

What does a day in the life at your agency milkPR look like?

Some days I am pitching to a new client, on other days I’m driving around sourcing items for a media gifting activation or event. I’ve also learned a lot about accounts and HR.

Wendy on set recently for her clients Cavcorp who were on Channel 7’s morning show, Sunrise.

How do you set yourself up for a successful workday?

  • First up, I start by meditating, followed by a workout and spend time practising gratitude
  • I’ll spend a few minutes catching up on the day’s news
  • Then I do a quick 10-minute skim through social channels that will help me stay on top of what is happening in the world on that day
  • Lastly, I dive into my “10 before 10”. These are the ten things I have written out the day before that can (and need to be) achieved before 10 AM. I find this is an easy way to build momentum and generate success for the day

You’re managing multiple social media accounts simultaneously, talk us through your weekly workflow

I always block out my client work based on “days.” Time management is critical here! Even if it’s for my reference or I don’t have a physical meeting, I block out 2 hours for that client.

For example:

  • Monday is FitazFK day
  • Tuesday is Sabo Skirt day mixed with Cavcorp

This way, I have the rest of the week to focus on the business or complete any pending tasks I need to for those clients.

Wendy doing a live stream with her clients, FitazFK, where they use their influence to create segments around important conversations.

What’s your process for creating a social media strategy for your digital agency’s clients?

When planning a social media strategy, we always start with looking at the big picture and taking a more holistic approach.

1. First up, we always sit down with our clients and brands to map out what their current brand messaging is
2. We then find out what their key objectives are. Is it to grow followers, generate traffic, or is it dollar-producing?
3. We also look at their greater integrated marketing strategy

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How do you plan social media content for the brands your digital agency manages?

I am pretty old school and love a visual calendar.

1. I set my calendar up for the week in Excel. It includes days, the number of posts per day, social media copy and any other notes (i.e. items that we have to create)

2. I check what posts one of our brands have been tagged in. For example for FitazFK (a fitness program, mobile app and gym), we look at what “inspo” or “motivational” posts would work on their page.

I try to do this during the week or even when I am scrolling through Instagram in general (I bookmark these as saved posts). This way I’m not trawling for hours on Instagram looking for a “viral video” that’ll work.

3. I always look at what existing content we have available and collate a mini library from there

4. I then plan out a content plan for a grid of nine. I do a content plan of nine because I find this is how your eye is attracted to the news feed and how your social posts should flow

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What are some of your tips for planning out an aesthetically pleasing Instagram account, that’s in line with a brand’s social media strategy?

  • I usually start by looking at my brand pillars. For example fitness, food and results are part of FitazFK’s strategy. I make sure I have at least one piece of content per brand pillar.
  • I drag and drop my collated content into a grid to make sure it visually looks good. The colours and the images need to flow. For example, I wouldn’t post two fitness result images side by side.
  • I then drop the images into my content calendar, include copy and direction and send to the client for their approval.

Once my client approves the content, we then schedule it into Sked Social!

A sample of the content calendar Wendy creates using Excel to plan content for her clients

Follow these tips to help you create an Instagram aesthetic for your brand.

How do you manage to meet deadlines especially when it comes to content creation which can be quite time-consuming?

The key is to be as organised as possible and ALWAYS be at least one week ahead (content wise). There’s nothing worse than coming to the day and realising, “damn, I haven’t got a post for today”. Sometimes, we are even a whole month ahead, depending on the client and how reactive we can be.

Of course, there should ALWAYS be room for reactive, off the cuff posts, as it IS INSTANT GRAMMING at the end of the day. And most of us tend to forget that and get so caught up in the planning.

Wendy posting content on the go with one of her employees. Image credit: Get Together Photo for The Foundrs Team

How do you go about reporting on social media activity and results?

Most of our clients reach out to us to improve their follower count. I think one thing we need to make clear is follower count does not equal attention. Your brand could have 150K followers with only 200 likes. So we have to question: why is this happening?

We whip up a monthly report including the top and bottom posts of the month, why were the top performing or why did they bomb completely? If you have access to, check out the days we generated the most revenue and why? Did this correlate with Instagram?

By showing numbers, stats and figures, it’s black and white and it’s pretty hard to compete with that!

I can’t stress reviewing enough! If you’re not analysing what you’re sharing, you’re shooting from the hip and hoping you are hitting the target.

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What’s the biggest mistake you see brands make with social media?

Businesses are treating their social media channels as single commodities. Instead, they should consider it a piece to their brand’s greater ecosystem.

They think by having 150K followers, they will automatically generate more revenue which isn’t always the case. At the end of the day, it’s all about the sum of the parts.

From their EDMs to Facebook advertising, all key messages need to be aligned across all channels and platforms.

What are your top tips for creating great video content for social media?

Drill down on your objectives. What are you trying to achieve? Is it a pretty, brand awareness video or is this a Facebook ad to generate revenue?

  1. Organise your shoot as best as you can. You can tell when a video hasn’t been thought through or is sporadic. Even if it is mapping out what scenes you want to create
  2. Have a reference point or source of inspo. It will guide you in the right direction and help create the best possible video
  3. Find a killer, eye-catching location and use the appropriate talent.
  4. Add music that enhances the video – Its impact is so powerful. How do you want your followers to feel watching your content?

What are some of the most common mistakes you see brands make when it comes to creating content?

1. No visual aesthetic. None of the images flow, no brand colours are incorporated, and it’s a bit of a mish-mash. You want the user to visit your Instagram profile and immediately know what you do. It also needs to be visually appealing on the eye

2. Not analysing and reviewing their posts!

What are some challenges you encounter in your job and how do you work to overcome them?

It’s a challenge every day! The algorithm is always evolving, and if you’re not on the pulse, you’ll get left behind. Reading blogs, listening to podcasts and analysing what other key brands are doing is a must. You have to be aware of the environment your business operates in and monitoring what your competitors are doing. Otherwise, you’re leading your brand blindly!

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. The data and the stats are already there, you’ve got to go looking for it!

Social media is also subjective. And that’s something I’ve learned from the beginning. What you might think is the best picture of all time, your client might hate. So try to adapt and remove your personal taste or flair and give best for what the brand needs.

Running a digital agency can be a 24/7 job, how do you ensure you’re getting a break?

Even though I work in social media, I never check my phone the minute I open up my eyes. It’s proven the blue light on our phone can cause damaging effects and strains our eyes and mind. I call it Digital Disruption. It’s disrupting my flow for the day.

How do you go about getting new clients for your business?

We’ve been so lucky we’ve never had to pitch for a client. Everything has been word of mouth, referrals and this to me, is a true testament and reflection to the work we put out. I don’t mean to sound boastful, but we have been very lucky to be able to work with renowned brands from day one. ‘Working hard’ sounds like simple advice, but it’s something that’s often overlooked.

A true testament to those who stand out in PR and bring value to the table is the ‘workhorses’. They’re not afraid to roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty and do what it takes to get the job done.

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What’s been the most successful way you’ve acquired new clients?

Instagram & referrals! The more we post on Instagram and love our clients back, the more we receive in return! As mentioned, we are very lucky we have strong referrals.

Quick fireside chat:

What are your three favourite brands to follow on social media and why?

HiSmile: They are KING at content creation. You land on their profile, and you know exactly what their product is.

They are also one of, if not, the best engaging page on Instagram right now. They respond to every single comment. It creates a killer community vibe.

Sabo Skirt: They’ve got their aesthetic down pat. You land on their page and you know exactly what they are all about, and the feed flows. Their user-generated content strategy is insane – you have to check out how many photos they get tagged in per day.

Bali Body: Their sales methods, and way of engaging a customer to purchase is second to none. It’s real, organic and raw. The page itself is aesthetically pleasing, and they do a great job highlighting how to use their products. They take their customers on a journey.

What tools do you use daily to make your job ‘easier’?

  • Snapseed or Lightroom for editing
  • Sked Social to schedule all approved content

Book or podcast you’re listening to and loving right now?

I am currently reading 1984 by George Orwell, but podcasts are everything to me right now.

My favourites are:

  • Kwik Brain by Jim Kwik
  • How I Built This By Guy Raz
  • The GaryVee Audio Experience by Gary Vaynerchuk
  • Thrive by Arianna Huffington

What are your favourite newsletters that you’ve subscribed to?

I always love reading the Business of Fashion emails, Digi Daily and Glossy.

They’re super concise, precise and I learn something new from them all the time.

What advice do you have for those starting their career in marketing or PR?

  • Learn, learn, learn. Put yourself out there in as many situations as possible.
  • Read a new book.
  • Do an online course in the areas you feel need improvement. The more you know, the more you’ll grow. Simple, right? But it amazes me how many people DON’T DO IT.
  • PR isn’t about traditional print/mediums anymore. It’s almost dead, it’s evolving and it’s about adapting to the new trends such as social media, influencers, content creation. If you can wear many hats or have an interest in most of these, you’ll definitely become an asset.
  • Genuinely LOVE social media.

I meet too many people who call themselves social media experts, but they hate the channels or they think it’s simply uploading a pretty filtered photo and they put the phone down. I guess this goes back to learning, but knowing and loving your channel inside out will really shine through the content you create.

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