Mistakes for Agencies to Avoid When Onboarding

7 Mistakes for Agencies to Avoid When Onboarding Social Media Clients


As with so much in life & marketing, the key to a successful onboarding process is having a plan. But you might be surprised by how few agencies actually have an established process for social media onboarding.

Look, it’s not hard to understand why—these days, social media has become something of a second nature for a wide variety of marketers and their customers.

But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how comfortable you may be with social media, or how much experience you have on the platforms. Keeping a client’s social media audience engaged and moving toward their goals takes preparation and communication, all wrapped in the blanket of best practices, before hitting the airwaves.

Before you get started on social media onboarding with your clients—or before you turn over the keys to your social accounts to your agency partner—take a minute to run through these common mistakes. By knowing ahead of time what pitfalls may still lie ahead, you may just save yourself some heartburn when the posts start flowing.

Setting The Wrong Expectations

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While it may be tempting to jump right into a client’s social media accounts and start scheduling posts, you’re probably better off taking a step back and asking the big questions, like:

  • What are our goals for social media?
  • How will we measure success across the social media platforms?
  • What benchmarks can we use to compare performance moving forward?

Getting started on social media onboarding without knowing where it is you’re going is a little bit like jumping on a train before the tracks are built: you may be able to get some momentum, but it likely won’t lead you where you want to go, or at the speed, you want to get there.

In some cases, this also means having a firm grasp on the changes to the social media platforms themselves, and on what trends may be driving a shift in strategy moving forward.

That’s why, before you even request access to the social accounts, sit down and ask the client exactly what they’re hoping for through social media. This may include information like what their previous social media pitfalls have been, or what ideas they’re bringing to the table now that they’d like to try moving forward.

Once you know the goals your client is aiming for through their social media (and how you’re going to measure it), it’s time to start thinking about the posts themselves.

Not Getting The Right Creative Assets

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Although each platform is a little different in its specific setup, social media is generally a highly-visual content channel. That makes it critical to stay consistent and on-brand with your visual and creative assets across all posts and platforms.

If your client has a website or any existing branding, chances are they have something resembling a brand or style guide to inform your creative style on social media. This can be a crucial resource for maintaining visual consistency across all of the brand’s online presence.

Important creative assets to focus on include:

  • Any brand logos or brand system visuals
  • Colors/hex codes for the brand system
  • Fonts

If the client doesn’t have one already, this is probably a good time to establish clear brand guidelines—including all visual and graphic styles—for all team members to follow and reference moving forward.

Failure to Establish Consistent Tone, Voice, & Style

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There’s a specific feeling your audience gets when it becomes clear there’s more than one voice behind your brand—and it’s not necessarily the feeling you want them to have.

While each person who touches the brand is going to inevitably leave their own unique mark on the tone and style of your messaging, too much inconsistency can be a bad thing. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure that all of your messaging for the brand—including across the social media channels—matches with that main brand “voice.”

If you’re stuck on how to build in some consistency to your social media posts, here are some helpful questions to ask yourself and your client before getting started:

  • Is there a bank of common vocabulary to draw on for all messaging, especially around well-trod or frequent topics? This can help keep all of your written brand work aligned on the most basic level.
  • Consider the path from each social media channel to your goals… is each channel saying the same thing? The right thing?

Not Understanding the Competition

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It doesn’t really matter what kind of business you’re working with, or what you’re selling, or who your audience is—at the end of the day, social media posts are content. Like any other content, what you’re offering has to be good… great… better than anything else on the market.

Social media can be a cutthroat and competitive landscape. Standing out means knowing what your clients’ competitors are doing, and doing it better. Take time to keep tabs on main competitors, and use social listening to watch for new entries into the market.

  • Who is your competition? What makes their brand different from yours?
  • Where do your audiences overlap? Will you be competing for the same attention?
  • What can your brand do that theirs can’t?

Improper Account Permissions & Setup

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While it’s definitely not the most exhilarating aspect of social media onboarding, setting up access and permissions to access your client’s profiles is actually one of the most important steps in the entire process. That’s why it helps to take the time and do it right… and why it’s worthwhile for brands to choose an agency partner with the experience to make the right choices.

While the old “here’s the login information, have a blast” method may work for some brands—and, to be honest, is still the best way to go about managing a brand’s Twitter or Pinterest accounts—many social media platforms now allow for specific “partnership” permission levels that can make the onboarding process safer, easier, and more efficient.

Owner/Partner Admin Access

One key thing to keep in mind when taking on a client’s social media accounts: this is their account, not yours. At the end of the day, the social media accounts belong to the brand itself, not to the agency. By utilizing Facebook’s “Partners” admin access level, you can ensure your client retains full ownership of the social media profiles, and that your agency can access each page as a “Partner.”

Not only will this give your agency team basically all the access it needs to manage the page, but it will also make handing back account control significantly simpler if (for whatever reason) it’s time to turn the keys back over to the client.

Working with the Wrong Tools

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Whether your client is well-versed in the social media landscape or if they’re brand new to the practice of posting, keeping track of a single strategy across all social channels can be difficult. That’s where a robust social media scheduling, posting, and analysis tool can make a huge difference.

The right social media tool can make a huge difference when it comes to keeping everything organized, aligned, and on track across all social media channels. Agencies should seek a tool that allows for team collaboration and sharing between the agency and the client, allowing for a seamless scheduling/approval process for the posts themselves, along with robust analytics to help track progress across all social channels in one easy roundup.

When it comes to social media tools, we prefer Buffer. It’s got just about everything we need to efficiently schedule, edit, and approve posts across all of the major social channels. Plus, it’s got a new Analyze tool that gives a great top-down view of each channel to help us adjust as needed.

If you’re in need of something slightly different, or only need something for one specific platform, other tools options include Hootsuite, SproutSocial, Planoly, and others.

Poor Ongoing Communication

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Like all good marketing strategies, social media marketing is an ongoing process of analysis and refinement over time. That means working closely with your client to ensure your strategy is helping drive toward your goals while maintaining that distinct brand style.

But if you’re not keeping lines of communication open between your team and your client, the results may be less than stellar.

That’s why it’s so important to establish a clear plan for communication during the social media onboarding process. This means establishing a clear process for factors like reputation management and audience engagement, including answering user comments and checking messages to the social media profiles.

Engaging with audiences (and generally having your brand “present” on social media) is huge, so don’t let it fall by the wayside. Set those expectations and establish those communication channels early and you’ll be better set up for success when the messages, questions, and reviews start flowing.

Opt for Success… From Onboarding, and Beyond

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At the end of the day, taking on a client’s social media accounts takes a lot of trust and communication between your client and your agency team. Onboarding is the first—and, arguably, most important—step in building that trust and getting your social strategy off the ground smoothly.

For our team, the social media onboarding experience is one of the most rewarding interactions we have with our clients. Not only does this help set us up for success from a platform point of view, but it also gives us a clear opportunity to discuss the nitty-gritty of social media with our clients before the strategy goes into effect. That helps get us set up for success early, and stay on the right path with clear communication.