Learn how to build a client acquisition machine for your agency, by leveraging social media and your existing client relationships.

When you’re selling a physical product, promoting your brand is pretty straightforward. The more units you sell, the more the public is aware of your product, and the more attention your company receives.
But the best way to increase brand awareness for agencies isn’t that clear. Your work isn’t a physical object stamped with your logo. If you’ve done your job well, people will pay attention to your client’s brand, not yours.
When you’re an agency, you can’t increase brand awareness simply by putting more of your work into the world—your work increases brand awareness for other companies, not yours.
But social media offers the opportunity to market your business whether you provide a service or a physical product. It’s one of the easiest ways to increase brand awareness because it relies on leveraging the existing relationships you have with clients. You already work closely with them—it’s just a matter of expanding those relationships to social channels. 
While referrals from previous clients are a great way establish your credibility, a tweet from them is even easier and can have a higher return for the effort. A post takes 30 seconds to produce and has the potential to put your agency in front of thousands.
Here’s our 3-step guide for building social media buzz that will draw more attention—and more clients—to your agency.

Step 1: Discover Your Influencers

Many companies gain social proof by paying influencers—credible industry experts—to give a new product approval and launch it into the mainstream. The idea is that you can increase your reputation by association. If someone knows that a familiar or trusted source is using your product or service, they’ll be more likely to want to use it too.
When it comes to influencer marketing, agencies have an advantage. While other companies might need to pay an independent expert to endorse their product, your agency can leverage the relationships it already has. You already work closely with industry experts—they’re your clients.
Since your clients are experts on what they do best, their word carries authority with their customers and followers. When they share your work on social media, it means their network knows they’ve hired your agency—and anyone who follows them online will be curious about how you’ve helped them.
Here’s how to discover who your most influential clients are.

  • Check follower numbers. It only takes an hour to run through your client base and see which clients have the most followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Review their blog. Some brands will tell you exactly how many people subscribe to and share their blog, using a call to action that says “Join our 20,000 readers” or a sidebar that tells you how many times their posts have been shared. Blog readership gives you a better picture of how many people follow their company news—and how many you can reach if they share your brand.
  • Look at customer/follower engagement. It’s one thing to have a lot of followers, but having customers who regularly interact with posts is a much better indicator of engagement. When you review your clients’ follower numbers, take a look at how many comments, retweets or shares they have.  
  • Use a referral marketing service. A service like Extole gives you real-time, segmented reports on who your influencers and revenue drivers are, how they share material on social media and the returns from those shares.

By discovering your influencers, you know where to target your efforts so you can make the greatest impact—both online and offline.

Step 2: Encourage Clients to Share Your Blog Content

You’ve heard about the benefits of content marketing, but blog content can be even more valuable when you’re selling a service than when you’re selling a product. While most companies use content to educate on issues surrounding their product—you can use it to give potential clients a preview of your services. 
You can use your blog posts to showcase some of your skills and abilities,  giving potential clients a sample of the quality and exact type of services they can expect from you. For example, if you specialize in running social media campaigns, you can write posts on social media best practices. 
Because your content is an excellent way to demonstrate your knowledge and the services you offer, you need to make sure it gets shared as widely as possible.
Here are a couple of ways to use your blog to generate social media buzz around your agency.

Interview your influencers for case studies

Asking your clients to work with you on a case study is a great way to build blog content. If they’re happy to participate, interview them about how your agency has helped them and offer data or statistics that demonstrate that impact. For example, if your agency offers web design services, see if you can collect information on how sales or traffic increased as a result of your work.
Case studies are especially beneficial when you feature your biggest influencers (the group you discovered in Step 1). Asking those influential clients to share the case study on their social media channels spreads the word about your agency, its specialty and the quality of work you deliver.  
Marketing agencies Brolik and AMP have incredible examples of case studies on their website, showcasing their digital strategies and the exact work they did for each client.

A great case study example from marketing agency Brolik's site.
Brolik showcase their work on the case studies section of their site.

An example of a great case study page from AMP Agency's site.
An example of a great case studies page from AMP Agency.

A great case study has four important benefits: it builds your relationship with your client, encourages them to speak out about your agency, describes the amazing work you can produce for potential clients and outlines the measurable results your clients can expect when they choose your agency.

Include a social sharing sidebar on your blog

Encourage readers to share your blog through a share sidebar on your blog. By reducing the number of clicks it takes for them to share your content, they’ll be more likely to spread the word about your agency.
Using a tool like AddThis, you can add unobtrusive social share buttons to the side of your readers’ screens. 

3 Ways to Build Social Media Buzz Around Your Agency
An example of a social sharing sidebar on one of our blog posts.

These social share buttons also give you the ability to showcase how many readers have shared your content, offering social proof that signals to new readers that your content is highly valuable and worthy of sharing.

Step 3: Build a Social Media Community

While the first two steps we’ve recommended increase engagement for specific articles, you also need to develop a long-term strategy for increasing engagement with your material. While a single post from a key client can boost your traffic for a few days, creating a community around your brand encourages your clients to sing your praises again and again.
Building this community around your agency is one of the best ways to encourage your clients to spread the word. Your best word-of-mouth marketing agents are right there because your clients are already signed into their social media account, looking for something to say. They want to post something that’s interesting to their followers, so give them the opportunity to put a spotlight on your business.  
Here are some tips for building a community that not only reads your posts but shares them with their friends and networks.

Ask engaging questions

Whether you’re on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter,  asking your followers to respond to a caption contest or fun question allows them to post about you in a low-effort, low-stakes way that doesn’t feel promotional.
When you make your social media platforms a hive of activity where your followers can chat with you and each other, others will see the buzz and be excited to get involved. Plus, followers who comment are more likely to engage again, building connections that will last longer than a short-term increase in traffic
When Zomato asked their followers to tweet out their #LastMealOnEarth, they got 444 retweets, 220 likes, and 645 responses. They also suggested that followers tag someone else that they wanted to have the meal with—exposing the Zomato brand to a wider audience.

Zomato Twitter Contest
Zomato’s #LastMealOnEarth tweet that earned 645 responses.

While Zomato incentivized their followers with goodie bags, you don’t always have to. You can also use questions to engage followers and improve your services.  For example, when Brian Chesky, co-founder of Airbnb, asked Twitter what the company should build next, he got 2.5K likes, 2.2K responses, and 562 retweets.
Airbnb's CEO Brian Chesky took to Twitter to ask his users for product feedback
Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky took to Twitter to ask his users for product feedback.

Building a community around your brand by engaging followers pays off every time you post because other people are helping expand your audience. And you don’t need thousands of followers to get the benefit from social media shares. The average Twitter user has 707 followers, which means that even if only 5 people respond to your tweet, there’s a chance that 3,535 new people can learn about your agency.

Send swag

Sending your clients swag plays on the norm of reciprocity: you send them a free t-shirt, they send you a thank-you post. The gift creates curiosity and excitement around your brand, and your clients’ followers will be intrigued when they see your cool logo and wonder what you provide.
Chris Savage, CEO of video hosting company Wistia, jokes that he runs a t-shirt company that does video hosting on the side. The company created hype in their online community by giving away $137,000 worth of free t-shirts. Once a couple of people posted photos in their t-shirts, other customers started asking “Can I get one too?” and once they received them, they began posting photos in their own Wistia shirts.

Wistia t-shirt tweets
A collage of some Wistia t-shirt tweets.

The trick to getting people excited (and sharing) photos in your swag is that it has to be something people actually want. If you order t-shirts, make sure they’re trendy and comfortable. When your clients are genuinely excited about receiving your gift, they’ll be excited to wear it and your promotion almost takes care of itself.

Make Your Agency Shareable

When you know which clients have the greatest ability to influence their own customers and clients, you can create compelling material that they’ll want to pass along, giving you the kind of visibility that generates its own momentum.
The best way for your agency to win new clients is by making the most of the relationships you already have. Your clients already love your work. When you connect with them, whether through blog posts, case studies, asking engaging questions or sending swag they’ll be happy to spread your agency’s name to their network. 
We’d love to hear about the ways you create a buzz around your agency whether on social media or using other strategies, let us know in the comments below!