Aaron Herrington, cofounder of and partner at Modea, discusses why transparency and customer engagement are de rigueur in a digital age.
Q: How does working in the digital space bring you closer to the consumer and why is that so important?
A: For us, and I think for all brands and agencies alike, digital provides a wonderful mechanism for more and closer interaction, whereas with traditional-based interaction only, it can be somewhat more difficult to engage and create a real conversation. Digital tools, specifically social media, really allow for that and they are more scalable.
Q: Consumers are savvier than ever. Is it more difficult to market in a digital age?
A: There are so many things that can go wrong if you approach this the wrong way. Social media is a great way for people to have their voices heard and brands need to understand that even if they go ahead and delete comments on their own Facebook pages, consumers have other channels to discuss [the brands]. It’s all about being open and transparent. Customers are ultimately going to find information whether you want them to or not. Be open and let consumers know in simple terms exactly what you’re tying to do.
Q: What about CRM? How has that changed?
A: The amazing thing is that when our company started in 2006, the iPhone hadn’t been released yet. It’s incredible to think about that. And now, I don’t think an agency can be successful or even exist without having digital involvement. First and foremost, digital technology allows you to create the reciprocity that customers need and the engagement you want. In the real world, from a CRM perspective, we want the consumer to ultimately engage with what is happening on the page.
Q: Do you think brands and clients could do more to optimize their social media engagement?
A: In the entire industry, in general, there is a lack of people who are really trained in this area. Tools like Facebook have only been around for eight years or so, which makes it hard to find people who are truly confident just from an understanding-how-to-use-it standpoint, let alone how to build a brand and a community and effectively engage consumers. To truly utilize social media, you can’t just have one person whose role it is to be active on Facebook and Twitter. You also need people from customer service and from product development engaging, because when consumers use these tools, they’re doing so as a mechanism to get information from the right people and in a timely manner — or you lose them.
Q: You’ve said in the past that your goal is to make Modea Corp. “the best agency in the world.” How do you create a balance at your agency between work and fun?
A: It’s definitely difficult, but for us, striking that balance is one of our core values. It all comes back to accountability to the people we work with, to the clients, to the work we do and to the overall greater community. We really try to practice what we preach.