While social media has been almost universally adopted by organizations as part of their marketing activities, its rapid growth has created as many headaches as opportunities, according to #smartplanning: Delivering effective all agency planning in the age of social media, a report produced by Shine Communications has launched in partnership with MBA students from London Business School.

The report concludes that comparative decline of mass market advertising has eroded the hegemony once enjoyed by traditional advertising agencies. At the same time, agencies specialising in differing disciplines have hastened to set up and develop social media capabilities, with varying degrees of success.

The upshot is an often complicated and confusing picture that leaves managers uncertain how best to develop impactful and integrated ideas for their brands.

According to the survey:
• Only 63 percent of those questioned believe their organisation has incorporated social media effectively. 
• 69 percent of those questioned manage between two and five agencies and a further 10 percent managing six or more, and only 31 percent want to work with a one-stop shop.
• Yet how to lead and integrate communication agencies is an issue for 79 percent of marketing and communications directors, with only 49 percent believing that their campaigns are well integrated. 
• Only 36 percent of organisations over 1000 employees allow all their agencies to pitch the big idea, with only half as many organisations with under 1000 employees doing so.
• There are a variety of roles marketing directors believe social media plays within their organisation.  Brand awareness (72 percent), events (49 percent) and promotions/ giveaways (46 percent) are the most popular, followed by media relations (39 percent), customer service (26 percent) and revenue generation (18 percent), leading to challenges in terms of allocating roles.

The #smartplanning report provides recommendations and a six-step planning process to enable marketing directors to work collaboratively with multiple agencies to deliver stand out integrated ideas, and focuses on the need to appoint a clear lead agency, which could be an advertising or PR agency. 

“The role of PR is to deliver truly engaging ideas and now should often lead the planning process; the rise of social media plays directly to the conversational skills of a PR agency,” says Richard Brett, managing director, Shine Communications.