Weekly Updates

Things we're thinking about this week.

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Taking a step back. 

Is there ever a bad time to take a step back? Trying to figure out a complicated digital marketing strategy, take a step back and deciding on the mission will help you decide what to do or not to do. Overwhelmed in life, take a step back and see where you might be spending too much time. Tired of not making any progress in you diet, take a step back and realise that you have to be patient.

We're often too caught up on the little things. We overanalyse inconsequential details, waste time and become overwhelmed. Taking a step back always helps.

The Difference Between Working Hard and Working Long

Photo by  Vladimir Kudinov  on  Unsplash

 

There is a huge difference between working hard and working long - but in Hong Kong, people don't always understand the difference.

Working long means clocking in 15+ hours every single day or working 80 hour weeks. For some people, it means just staying in the office until the boss/manager leaves (regardless if they have work to do or not).

Working long means that you're aware of the amount of time you're spending on your job. It is, after all, just a job.

Working hard means something else entirely. Working hard means that you're doing something different, something that hasn't been done before. If you're lucky, you'll end up with a positive result. There is some sort of risk involved.

You can fail at working hard, you just have to show up if you're working long.

The two aren’t exactly mutually exclusive, and working long might end up resulting in working hard (if you show up and work efficiently, you’ll likely end up in the position of attempting hard work).

Working hard takes a leap of faith. No matter how hard you try, working long won’t reap the same benefits.

When selecting a marketing agency or partner, are you looking for one that does the basics or one that is going to work with you and take some risk? Do you want similar ideas you see in the market, or ideas that make you stop and think?

Amateurs and 'do-it-all' agencies tend to be cheaper, but they also tend to just to the basics. On the other hand, the agencies that work hard are the ones that will come up with new, exciting ideas. One type can only do one thing (work long), the other can do both (work hard and long).

If you're looking to use marketing to stand out from the crowd and differentiate, then you need to look for an agency that works hard (not long).

What to ask a social media agency/consultant?

Photo by  Nathan Dumlao  on  Unsplash

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

If you haven't spent time working in digital marketing or social media in the past couple of years, it's going to very difficult for you to tell the difference between agencies that are mediocre, good or even great. If you've decided to put some money into getting support in the social media space, you don't want to be throwing money away. We've put together a couple questions (and things to watch out for) that should help you decide among all the technical jargon.


What does your agency specialise in?

What to look out for: There are a lot of agencies out there, and most will say that they can do anything — social media, SEO, SEM/PPC, Influencer, web design, UX/UI, content creation, etc. — stay away from these! It’s impossible to specialise in everything (as much as they try), and even harder for these agencies to have the right people working on the right things. If you’re looking for help in social media, look for social media experts — don’t for example ask for help from a PR agency, because they just aren’t equipped (and up to date) to properly manage social media.

Who will be working on the account?

What to look out for: You want to make sure that your account is being taken care of. There are cases that agencies will send their best business development people to the pitch meetings, and these people will disappear once the account is won (and you’re left with clueless junior staff). In general, you want to have a account director/manager who will be your key day to day and depending on your project, have experts in creative, management, analytics that help out as needed (whether it’s managed in-house or external). The key here is to make sure that they have a plan for making sure you account is handled as agreed (and they’re not stealing your money!).

What’s the social media strategy going to be?

What to look out for: If they answer right away without learning about your business, run away! The social media agency you work with needs to understand your business problems and needs — where are you struggling? What has been done in the past? Where do you need help? What needs to be addressed first? What is the competition doing? How much money do you have available? These are just some of the basic questions that need to be addressed. Blanket approaches won’t work, and you need to work with people that can help you where you need help the most.

What are the latest social media trends? Who’s doing social media well?

What to look out for: Social media is a changing landscape, and you want to make sure that the people you work with 1) know what’s happening and 2) have an opinion on where things are going to go. By asking this question, you should be able to see whether the agency is able to think independently and help drive your business forward. There should be a clear differentiation here, otherwise you might as well just hire a fresh grad instead. You want to be told what to do, rather than have to tell the agency what to do (they are after all the expert).

What social media platforms should we be on?

What to look out for: Building on the last point, the agency you work with needs to be the expert. Understanding the landscape they should be able to tell you which platforms make the most sense (can help convert) rather than just what’s the most popular (far too many recommend the basics — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter because that’s where everyone is, and not explaining how they can help the business).

What are we going to do with data/analytics?

What to look out for: Agencies should be able to talk about how to use data, and just as importantly when to use data. While there is a huge allure as to what data can do, in many cases companies aren’t able to take advantage of data simple because they don’t have a lot of data to play with (they’re way too small). Look for a social media agency that can use data to inform decisions, but doesn’t blindly follow the numbers (difference between causation and correlation isn’t addressed enough).

Where should we spend our money?

What to look out for: Find a company that can smartly look at a landscape and portion money as needed. You want to stay away from companies that are just looking to maximise their billings, and work with agencies that understand that digital isn’t always necessarily the best way to go (depending on the industry, many can still see a lot of benefit from events or CRM).

Who are your competitors?

What to look out for: Honesty. There are hundreds of competing digital agencies and consultants out there. This is a test to see if they’re honest people and whether they will be easy to work with. You want to work with a team that isn’t afraid to talk about the hard truth, and not just people that are good at kissing your butt.


These are just some of the questions that you should be asking when deciding on a social media agency. There are obviously many other questions you should be asking, but with all things being equal, the answers to these questions should help you put one agency over another.

More than a digital marketing agency - we're community builders

Photo by  Anthony DELANOIX  on  Unsplash

The more I talk to people about what we do, the more I wonder what it is exactly that we do.

In the last couple of months, we've clearly evolved. We're not just a digital marketing agency in Hong Kong anymore, we're so much more than that.

A digital marketing agency is typically one that does content creation, social media marketing, marketing strategy. The bigger ones will also touch on PR/outreach, influencer marketing, SEO/SEM and PPC, maybe even some design work. But we've moved in a different direction - we're starting to help companies find and place talent because that's what they're actually looking for (and we don't want to be the same as everyone else).

However, lately, we've realised that we're more than that. We're not really a digital marketing agency because of the way we approach things. Our job isn't about marketing companies and building an audience (sure we do that as well) - our CORE JOB is to build communities. We build communities and engage them for brands, we just happen to do it through the use of digital marketing (social media marketing, content creation, paid placements, etc.).

We exist to help connect brands with their desired audience. That's what we do, and that's what we do well. While other similar agencies in Hong Kong are trying to sell a service (and trying to grab every available dollar), we're trying to engage an audience in a way that creates true fans - fans that will stick with the brand over time (and continue to buy their products as they come out).

We're not just a digital marketing agency. We're community builders.

Wednesday Updates

Things we're thinking about this week:

It doesn't matter how creative you are, how innovative you are or how smart you are - all that really matters is whether you can execute. There's no value in just thinking, you have to do something (and often just start, letting it snowball along the way)

  • Want to start a company? Write a plan and start talking to people 
  • Want to learn about digital marketing? Look for some free courses around you and ask for some book recommendations
  • Want to learn to ride a bike? Rent one and find a friend who can teach you

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Differentiate or die - can't repeat this enough. Drives me insane that marketing agencies are all evolving to become identical (offering the exact same services - graphic design, SEO, SEM/PPC). Where's the differentiation? Why don't they practice what they preach? That's why we're staying away from the same old and branching out into recruitment (among other things in the works). Never settle for good enough - we're going to die by that.

React vs Respond

Photo by  Saksham Gangwar  on  Unsplash

We all make choices every single day. The one that goes unnoticed the most, are our reactions. Something happens and we react instinctively. But are we actually in control?

To stoics, our emotions are the one thing that we should strive to control (we control our physical side, and we must also learn to control our emotional side). It's something everybody in Hong Kong needs to learn (Imagine all the glares we get from being bumped on the street or coughing in the subway).

Gut reactions can be good, but they can be very dangerous as well - react too suddenly and you might end up saying something you'll regret. A better option would be to take an extra beat, and instead of reacting, responding instead. For social media, the gut reaction to a silly question on Facebook is to say 'check the about page, it's clearly all there', but a better response would be to carefully address the problem (and also make it more evident for future users).

The problem with twitter is that 90% of it is reactions (and trolls love it). Responses take more time and care, and if there was a way to implement it, it would be a much less toxic environment.

Attitude shapes everything - read more on Medium here.