Bartleby the Social Media Scrivener

Helping a friend brainstorm entry of her marketing and design firm into social media consultancy without coming off all claim-jumpy or bloody-turnip-squeezy. It goes without saying that I have no idea what I’m talking about. But this is a blog and I am me, so talk I shall, har-char-aiee.


| Notes toward a conversation on how an agency might successfully add social media to its offerings

  • The first thing you must do if your agency wished to extend into social media consulting is answer this question: Why? It is a difficult, non-standard discipline that challenges traditional marketing practitioners. If your only answer is, “To make more money” then you are going to have to offer even more exceptional value than normal to seem a legitimate choice to your clients. Does your agency culture allow for the adaptability and swift changes that SM demands and will demand of your clients?
  • Social media consultant is a boondoggle title that every scammer with a blog puts on his Twitter account.
  • Any movement into this field will require acknowledging the limitations of SM.
  • SM is a toolset and strategy for understanding your clients and soft-promoting your brand.
  • The unsung element of SM is its ability to do real-time tracking of your products’ and brand’s appeal; you can do the same thing for individual campaigns.
  • The goal of any SM consultation should be to make the consultant vestigial. Like a trainer in a gym, he or she should get you so comfortable and fit that you don’t need them any more (but love them for what they’ve done).
  • SM is open-ended and creative but it’s old enough that there are pretty well-established things that work and ways that don’t work.
  • SEO is incredibly simple. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to get in your pocketbook.
  • SM, although trackable with metrics, eludes traditional ROI. It’s experiential. “The advantages of intelligence,” said Spanish mystic Sister Juana Inez de la Cruz, “are the advantages of being.” Being, more than doing. In similar wise, SM is a matter of holding yourself in relationship to your client, not a way of ‘getting something out’ of your client.
  • The ability to use traditional marketing and design competencies, to make the social media elements of a client’s site, seem “professional” is a saleable talent.
  • Creating brand/rep tracking dashboards is something that should figure in a SM consultancy menu, along with branding the SM tools. In fact, good SM tracking – good in terms of quality as well as usability, based on any number of items, campaigns, etc., to be tracked, could be a good money-maker.
  • Tracking backward here, but if you were going to go into SM consultancy, I think you’re going to want a de facto menu. What do you do, why would a client want it, who would be responsible for it, what’s its long-term utility, how would it be billed?
  • Big companies and small (but big for sure) are constantly trying to figure out how to do social media, because it was on Biz Week’s cover, without actually doing it. One big thing for your agency is to devise a way of telling them where they can continue in their old way of thinking and development and where they will have to stop or alter what they’re doing and thinking, whether they like it or not. And they never do. Figuring out who in the chain is itching for these sorts of changes will be big. Those places where you can give real world examples of how staying the course is an excursive in self-heinie-ramming will also be key.
  • Any SM consulting will need to be dovetailed into your agency’s operations, not stuck out as a party favor.
  • To dovetail SM, you will need to create a zero-hour PROTOCOL. That protocol should contain the following elements.

+Survey of SM client currently uses or has used
+Questionnaire ascertaining the efficacy of SM use and attitudes toward it by major stakeholders
+Survey of SM that is currently using the client – where in the social media sphere are people already talking about the client and what is the nature of the talk
+Create benchmark metric that talks to the company’s | product’s | campaign’s a) level of penetration and b) reputation
+When in the normal course of defining the problem the client needs solved or the question it needs answered, determine if social media can solve | answer all or part of it, and if so, what part and what SM tool or strategy could be employed to do so
+When presenting the SM element, when possible, present it as part of a whole solution, again, not as a party favor – legitimize it as one among many possible solutions
+When presenting the SM element, always make sure it is accompanied by a success metric – how will you know the tool | is successful, but, once again, do not make ROI promised you can’t keep

  • If your agency wants to reach into SM, it must put together a good team; at least one member of that team must have a previous relationship with SM and a reputation among the people in that discipline. There are two reasons for that.

+If you do not use a member of that discipline, those in it may consider you as engaged in claim-jumping and taking away work from legitimate practitioners
+This, along with a complete, integrated strategy and professional materials that explain it, will avoid the charge, by your clients and potential clients, that you, as Johnny-come-latelies, are in it to squeeze blood from a stone; in other words, you must give your clients serious, legitimate value, else why get into a difficult discipline?

  • Your team will need to attend a reasonable number of social media conferences in order to both keep current on best practices (as I said before, this is a discipline that is constantly changing and no one is beyond the need to learn) and to keep tabs on specialty sub-contractors.
  • FIRST CONCRETE STEP that your agency will need to take once it decides to enter the SM arena is to implement the PROTOCOL vis-à-vis itself. Treat yourself as a client, implement the protocol and use the resulting materials as a case study to show clients what it can do.

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