Supplier-side Social Media Services – time to shape up? Part I
I was really pleased a luminary such as Jeremiah decided to add his voice the topic he did yesterday. Itâ€™s long been on my agenda to write about, so I guess thereâ€™s no time like the present to do something too! Wadds, Will, Stephen, Neville, Stuart, iâ€™d value your thoughts and opinions too. What do you, the practitioners of all this good stuff think is the state of the market?
I did some work with a colleague a few weeks back along similar lines (although with a purely UK perspective) and arrived at the following general list of company types that were offering social media services.
The list is not exhaustive and not intended to cast opinion on the value or otherwise of each business type, but I would be interested to see how you see the UKâ€™s social media services offering. Have I missed a category? Is there anything you think should be added to the list? Let me know. Maybe in time, this could develop into a wikiâ€¦
The dedicated Social Media Agency
A collection of social media enthusiasts with a typically digital (but also pr) background and (sometimes!) good commercial heads. Know social media and know how it fits into a wider digital strategy.
The Social Media Specialist
The freelance social media fan-boy/girl who is looking to (generally) help small businesses adopt social media. Some technical skills, some pr skills.
The Digital Marketing Agency
The â€œtraditionalâ€ digital design & build agency who is being asked about social media and who approaches social media from a platform point of view.
The Ad Agency
The traditional advertising agency who bring creativity and customer insights from their other roles.
The Dedicated Social Media Division
The aforementioned social media agency but whose parent company is a larger digital or pr agency. All the credentials/reputation/skills of the parent company with specific social media focus.
The PR Agency
The smart pr firms who have realised that pr is all about developing relationships â€“ now with (mass) online audiences too, using different tools.
The Media Agency
The display ad agency who own online display moving into social network ads, which also covers social ads.
We then pondered what were the core â€œskillsâ€ of social media delivery, or rather, what skills would a client, looking to engage in social media activity need to have at their disposal to be able to deliver an end-to-end strategy (the likes of Dell for example). These are questions we are asking of ourselves/of the industry in general rather than what the client might ask (after all, many of them wonâ€™t know what questions to ask!)
We came up with these, can you add to them?:
Could the agency â€œbuildâ€ stuff using social technologies?
Does the agency know how to monitor conversations and respond with expert advice accordingly?
Wider marketing strategy
Do they understand if/where social media fits into the wider online marketing strategy?
Do they have the size to be able to handle all the
Thinking that we could develop this into something more visual and easier to understand, we then started to look at the relative strengths and weaknesses of each type of business.
For example, as relevant as a social media agency may be, could it bring with it the level of relationship-building/development skills that the PR company might. In turn, would the PR agency be able to build the tools that the digital agency be able to?
I have long thought that social media in itself, with its varying definitions and terminology is confusing for clients â€“ can we as an industry clarify the services we offer to help make the adoption of social media by clients an easier process?
Consider how Prince 2 has helped both agencies and clients work to a common set of principles. Admittedly, client briefs for web design/build range from scatty at best to so prescriptive one wonders why they even asked anyone for their opinion (one for your there Dave!), but the client does still have an idea of the services it needs to be asking for to develop the digital presence it wants to.
Is there a set of principles we can work to in social media to make it easier to buy from us?
Coming up in the next two Supplier-Side Social Media Services Series (wowsers, that was long!):
1) What should Mr. Client look for?
2) How do you cost for social media?
Not a â€œhow much do you charge?â€ piece, but one which looks at how you manage ongoing social media activity for clients. With social media being the 24/7 it seems to be, how can you act on a clientâ€™s behalf outside of normal working hours. I refer to Mr. Whatleyâ€™s â€œwhen does Batman sleep?â€ piece.
I hope youâ€™ll join me for these pieces to see if we can explore the frequently mysterious and â€œunspokenâ€ side of selling social media â€“ for the betterment of all of us!