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Agencies see uptick in social RFPs

Jordan Bitterman, Digitas‘ SVP and social marketing practice lead, spoke with Direct Marketing News about the increasing number of social media request for proposals (RFPs) that agencies are receiving.

Q: What elements do social media RFPs usually entail for agencies?

A: The chronology of social marketing starts with listening, evolves to strategy, and leads to community engagement. Therefore, RFPs align to where the marketer resides. As a result, we see a lot of requests for work in listening and analytics.

Q: To what extent is a social media RFP different from a traditional RFP?

A: They’re different but they shouldn’t be. Brands are searching for social-specific solutions, but they need holistic marketing solutions of which social plays a driving role. Our preferred RFPs include integrated marketing relationships where our social work becomes the driver of a broader marketing plan. In both social media and traditional RFP cases, we must showcase our problem-solving capabilities and the partners we work with to solve them.

Q: What are some challenges that you face when responding to a social media RFP?

A: There’s no one social-specific challenge for RFPs; no matter what the subject area, each RFP comes with its own set of unique requirements and considerations. We’re always looking for the best way to show our depth of experience and what that could accomplish for the prospective client.

Q: Do clients have unrealistic requests due to a lack of understanding of social media?

A: Nothing we’ve seen in an RFP has been misinformed. However, the social category, much like digital, is moving so fast that certain elements of RFPs might not be as relevant once the business moves forward. For instance, an agency’s opinion on a specific partner might demonstrate their knowledge and relationships in the space, but may not be the solution that the agency or client wants to work with a few months later.

Q: Are the expectations of clients often unrealistic in comparison to what agencies are actually able to provide?

A: Social is often associated with the idea of always-on marketing. To a large extent, this is true. Paid media is a rental market; an ad is trafficked, run, and taken down after a specified period of time. Social media, however, is an ownership market: Once a comment is made by a brand or a consumer, it’s part of the official record forever.

Many strategies, technologies, and solutions are being brought together to service these comments. Like so much in the social space, we’re in early innings. More sophisticated solutions must be—and are being—developed to keep up with client aspirations.

Q: Have marketing agencies seen an uptick in social RFPs recently?

A: Yes. Social is on the minds of marketers everywhere. All brands are looking to engage with their audiences, as well as [apply] best practices to do so.

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