agency-social-mediaI recently asked a few advertising agency CEOs if they had ever personally placed a Google ad. The unanimous answer was “no.”

Two nights ago, I asked a similar group if they had ever used a CMS tool like Wordpress. About 30 percent had used the tool.

Thirty percent is good but not great in a world where Wordpress reports there are more than 41 million new posts and 54.1 million new comments each month. And, just to really rub it in, the CEOs of most agencies tell prospects that their agencies are social media experts.

I think that this lack of CEO curiosity and hands-on experience is a significant problem. How can agency leaders effectively talk about social media, digital media, and advertising disruption if they haven't used the disrupting technology themselves?

So, what should a CEO do? Pick a rainy weekend day and discover the Internet.

Go Ahead — Tweet

Open a Twitter account, create a simple profile (look at mine for example @peterlevitan) and post three to five times per day for a few of weeks. Find out what is involved in creating content for this real-time marketing tool. It isn't that difficult, and you can even use a publishing system like Buffer to automatically schedule your tweets. Use relevant key words and hashtags to drive views.

Then, work on your very own Twitter plan that includes objectives and target markets (like a new client category). If all you wanted to do was see what using Twitter feels like, then close your account (Do this before your tweets age into oblivion.).

Blog Now

Ask your agency’s content manager to show you how to create blog posts using a CMS system. All you will need is a password, a bit of training, and voila, you are a blogger. You'd be surprised how easy posting is. The hard part is doing it with consistency. Lack of consistency will kill virtually any content marketing program.

Create a blog creative brief with the primary objective of building a following that actually drives agency awareness and new business. This process should help you gain insight into the strategic opportunities that a blog offers. Ask yourself if your agency blog is targeting your staff as a cultural tool, other agency bloggers, or prospective clients. Look at other agency blogs, and you will become aware that many — too many — blogs seem to be talking at other agencies through posts about subjects like responsive web design. This approach is not the best use of your staff’s time.

Place a Google Ad

OK, back to Google. Ask virtually anyone in your agency to take you through the process of creating and targeting a Google AdWords text ad. Google AdWords is the major source of Google's $45 billion in ad revenues. You really should understand all about this advertising channel since it has been sucking cash out of ad agencies since 2000. The only way to really get a handle on the ease of use is to place an ad. Here is an idea. Pick a prospective client (maybe even a particular executive), and target them through keywords. Send them to a personalized page on your website. See what happens.

Try Facebook or LinkedIn

Both LinkedIn and Facebook have easy-to-use self-serve advertising tools. Within minutes you could create and place a targeted ad for your agency that links back to your Facebook, LinkedIn corporate page (you have one, right?), or agency website. You'll see what works by using the analytics tools. The dry cleaner down the block does this; you can, too.

Go Analytical

Your ad agency most likely uses Google Analytics to track your website data. Pull up a chair next to your data specialist, and take a look at your traffic stats.

Look at how much time your visitors linger, the average number of page views, how they enter and exit your site, what content they are looking at, what device they are using(this can be surprising: Twenty-three percent of my website’s visitors are using a mobile devices). It’s strangely addictive and very revealing.

The analytical game is endless and changes monthly due to the introduction of new tools. OK, one more. Play with Twitonomy. Look up your friends or competitors with Twitter feeds. It’s wild.

Originally published May 14, 2014 2:00:01 AM, updated June 28 2019