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How to know if your social media agency is jerking you around

I read these words in BrandWeek from a respected creative director at a respected traditional agency:

… accept that Facebook is dead.  OK, maybe not exactly dead, but as a social marketing tool, the early adopters are already moving on.

That’s the kind of talk you get from agencies more interested in selling you an expensive new campaign in some experimental new venue — where the fees are high and it’s cool for them.  It’s like saying “California is so dead…we need you to pay for us to do a hot new campaign in Dubai.”

The right social media venue is where your customers are. Not where the cool marketing guys are.

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  1. Jeremy Meyers September 26, 2009 at 8:30 am #

    The other thing i see in this recommendation is that they are clearly mistaking tactics for strategy. ‘being on facebook’ or ‘not being on facebook’ are tactics to be used to execute on a strategy, which it doesn’t seem like they’re interested in developing.

  2. Trey Pennington September 26, 2009 at 9:32 am #

    Good point (though I’m not sure if the quote in context might change the meaning any). Seems like Jeremy’s right, too. Classic questions like:
    • What are you trying to accomplish?
    • Who are you trying to accomplish it for?
    • What do you have to work with?
    • What else do you need to be exceptional?
    • Where are the people you’re trying to help?
    • What problem do you help them solve?
    • Where are they looking for help to solve their problems?
    • What keywords do your customers (not the biz press) use to describe and ask about their problems?

    Eventually, we’ll get to the point where we talk about tactics for finding and engaging with those folks (the old-fashioned “target market”) and maybe, just maybe, Facebook might come up. Question is, will you be okay bragging to your buds at your next convention if it DOESN’T? (In my agency work, I’ve been blown away by how much is done so that the CEO can have a cool conversation with his peers.)

  3. Walter Schwabe (@fusedlogic) September 26, 2009 at 10:39 am #

    Andy, thanks for the post. However, there’s a contradiction here aside from the creative director’s ridiculous comment that I’d like to take issue with. In your title it says “social media agency” and “jerking you around.” The quoted comment is by a creative director from a “traditional agency.” Those in reality are two different animals that unfortunately overlap too often and the market is confused.

    The title directs a negative comment to firms like mine, 100% solely dedicated to delivering social media engagements and have been in this space since 2004 – we’re a rare company with NO traditional services offered. fusedlogic inc. is not the same as traditional firms who yesterday decided they were suddenly experts and social media savvy because they can fire up a Facebook or Twitter profile…I believe that your title perpetuates this confusion between agency types. Having said that, I agree with your post otherwise and the comments thus far, all valuable points.

    The quote you’ve provided under scores the need to educate the market and create further separation of actual agency capabilities and levels of understanding.

  4. Trey Pennington September 26, 2009 at 11:20 am #

    Walter makes a brilliant observation (one I wish I’d have caught).

    After reading the post and considering Walter’s comments, Andy, this is one of those post that should probably be directed to the editors at the National Enquirer or some other sensationalist tabloid. Not really anything of substance here on this one. Sorry.

  5. Oscar Del Santo September 26, 2009 at 2:10 pm #

    Agreeing with the caveats made by the previous commentators in mind, I still think that Andy makes an important and valid point here.

    I want to believe that in most cases this sort of advice by creative directors is motivated by ignorance rather than greed. And I don’t think there can be any argument that engaging with customers in the social networks is an absolute must and should very often precede other forms of ‘expensive new campaigns’.

  6. Walter Schwabe (@fusedlogic) September 26, 2009 at 2:55 pm #

    @Trey, thanks…I think. @Oscar I believe both motivations are present, ignorance and greed. Regarding last comment as to whether or not to engage within the social web. If it supports business objectives then I recommend developing relationships “before” they are needed. This is different from typical marketing campaign cyclic thinking. Do we have rapport in between the “ask” or is the organization only really interested in my wallet on their timelines? As a consumer, guess who is more likely to have my loyalty? The ability to build/sustain rapport and the speed at which it can happen is a critical advantage social over traditional media. This is why micro-sharing platforms like Twitter will never go away.

  7. Oscar Del Santo September 26, 2009 at 7:05 pm #

    Thanks Walter. I still think there is a worrying degree of ignorance by many ‘traditional’ creative and marketing directors about the not-so-new realities of and the opportunities offered by the social web.

    I believe that many marketeers – and a few names in the media come to mind – need to upgrade their thinking and take heed of some of the adroit points you make in your comment. The sooner that ‘upgrade’ takes place the better.

  8. Trey Pennington September 27, 2009 at 7:17 pm #

    Here’s a post that complements Andy’s post and captures some of the frustration rattling around in the marketplace online. The comments are especially good.


  1. Insights - September 26, 2009

    […] today I ran across a commentary from Adam Sernovitz describing the kind of talk a client gets when an agency is more interested in […]

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