Monday, June 8, 2009

Social Media Experts On the Client and Agency Side

Thanks to Tom Martin’s Tweet, I read this morning's article in Ad Age and his comment, along with the writer’s response and another interesting comment. I found something to agree with in all of them. I was also reminded of the buzz a couple of weeks ago about the NYT hiring a “social media expert.” Finally, what seems like an eon ago, I wrote about looking within your own organization for (young) people who understood social media.

I found the most compelling commentary on the NYT issue to be from Hubspot. They said the NYT needed to do 3 things. I’m paraphrasing, because I think their three recommendations apply to all organizations:

1. Train all marketers on the basics of SEO. Sites need to be designed for optimization and all content needs to be written for search. Marketers must demand that, even if they are not designing sites and creating content themselves. Hubspot is entirely correct that going back and reworking for search is costly and often less effective.
2. Train all marketers on social media. Rather than having one person alone responsible for social media, train the entire company on it, and get everyone involved. . .
3. Provide an ongoing inbound marketing training program for everyone. This will allow for continued learning and development as the tools and technologies change, and it can be a forum for sharing best practices and case studies of things that have worked well.

Amen to all of that! Social media is not the technology. It’s an attitude of transparency and inclusion that has to permeate the entire organization. (Does that remind anyone of the marketing concept as studied in Marketing 101?)

The agency issue is even more challenging. For me also, it brings back earlier attempts to bring, first direct marketing and later, digital marketing into the agency skill set. Both proved problematic.

Agency people who have specific media expertise are essential to carrying out campaigns. Whether media experts are in the best position to integrate social media into strategies and convince clients of their (long term) usefulness is questionable. It’s for sure that most businesses don’t understand how to integrate social media into marketing. Are account managers well enough versed in the new media to explain and persuade? I wonder.

On the client side, I’m convinced that making effective use of social media requires a careful process of organizational change management. The Hubspot recommendations pick up on some of that. They don’t highlight the need for a champion at a senior organizational level.

Social media personnel in agencies (I can’t say that without assuming some dedicated expertise!) have to redouble their efforts to demonstrate the value of their work, as I suggested in the metrics post last week. In time, they have to show a clear ROI. That’s relatively easy to do in areas like lead generation and hard to do in brand development. We should not let the difficulty of measuring brand efforts skew our efforts toward tactical uses at the expense of long-term brand building.

There are major challenges and roadblocks on both the agency and the client side. There’s a lot of internal marketing needed in both environments! Change management again!


Tom Martin said...

Mary Lou

Thanks for the hat tip -- I'm glad my tweet/comment spurred this post. And while I agree in theory with the idea of training everyone in SM -- the reality, it doesn't work.

SM is hard, time consuming and requires the serious practioner to participate after 5 and before 9 - which ends up being a deal killer for many.

In the end, you either are or are not a SM person. Can't train it into someone can only help a true devotee sprout.


MaryLou Roberts said...

Well said, Tom. That's exactly the line I take on customer service; you can't make a good customer service person out of someone who doesn't like people! In terms of training, though, I'm not expecting everyone to participate but I see too many orgs where there's not buy-in by important middle and senior managers. "Internal marketing" is the better term, I think.