Around the globe, the role of creative media is evolving rapidly. Agencies and public relations firms face continual pressure go the whole nine yards to secure fresh opportunities and remain competitive in such an uncompromising industry. Social media tops the list of new opportunities we must leverage to maintain success.

Over the last decade a rise in popularity and influence of social media has rewritten the rules for creative agencies. Every team operating in this sector must continually generate creative methods of bending social media to their and their clients’ advantage.

These efforts must be results-driven and analytical in order to demonstrate the social impact to exacting clients. Social media potentially offers such rich insight into brand sentiment and campaign reaction that any agencies failing to embrace that stark accountability will be trampled by those that do. In a rapidly changing world, an analytical approach will surely win the day.

Fresh approaches to fresh challenges

In a raging sea of competing marketing messages, it takes a special approach to stand out from the crowd, win new accounts and consistently prove your agency’s worth to your clients. Delivering big ideas and better results than other agencies will keep you one step ahead. But big ideas demand strong evidence gained by analysing market research and big data sources to pan the gold that others miss. Social intelligence helps agencies worldwide to do just that.

Next-generation agencies need more than just good ideas – they need fresh technologies that extract business insight from social media to differentiate businesses in crowded markets. Creativity in isolation will no longer suffice. Global businesses must harness the power of social media and be ready to react intelligently in response to consumers’ thoughts and opinions.

These demands inevitably add to the pressures on busy internal teams. So businesses and their agencies now need to listen to a new breed of marketing specialists equipped with technology capable of transforming real-time consumer data and opinions from social media into actionable insights.

Transparency cuts through the noise 

John Wanamaker, the pioneer in modern advertising and marketing, famously once said: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.”

Today, that confusion is compounded by the sheer volume of marketing channels available to businesses. An explosion in methods to inform, connect and engage with consumers or buyers has created more specialists and more opportunities, but also more noise to cut through.

Precisely because marketing activities are now far more transparent – there are no smoke and mirrors, no magic creative black boxes – agencies simply have to work to stricter metrics, set ambitious objectives, and remain open and collaborative by ‘showing their workings’.

As you would expect, value for your marketing buck is still paramount. Neither senior management nor clients are interested in speculation or surprises. Equally there is a realisation that the links between product development and marketing are stronger than ever and that a rapid ROI on intelligent marketing spend is not only desirable, but essential. There’s no longer any compulsion for companies to come up with new products or services in a vacuum or go for a ‘field of dreams’ approach to product development.

Technological insight is 20/20

Thanks to technology and the inexorable rise of social media, businesses now have access to the single largest source of unsolicited consumer opinions the world has ever seen.

The best way for any agency to understand why data gathered using social media monitoring and analysis technology is so compelling is to see it in action. A view of engaged online consumers offers far greater insight for a brand than gut-feeling, for less money and in less time than traditional market research.

Remember - every second of every day, millions of customers are telling businesses precisely what they want, why they want it, and how they want to get it. Now all they need to do is to partner with agencies that have learnt how to listen.

Curt Bloom is president of Crimson Hexagon