— blending the mix

Who says brands can only talk about success?

…or rather “why we should actually beging to start trusting agencies a bit more now”.

OK, so this is a bit of a schizophrenic post – it goes all over the place, but stick with it for a while! Hopefully the comments will be more interesting!!
So, reading through one of e-consultancy’s latest (again, quality) blog posts, they covered 16 social media guidelines issued by brands who are already pretty well known for their social media initiatives.

I have no issue with any of the recommendations – they are all sound, considered and safe…and that’s pretty much it – they are bloody obvious.

The comments were gushing “best post I’ve seen in a while”, “this post just became mandatory reading”…but for god’s sake…most of this is just COMMON SENSE.

Imagine if you, as an agency bod, stood in front of a Board of Director’s trying to explain what or how the company should adopt social media and the best you could come up with is:

  • Don’t “broadcast” messages to users.
  • Try to add value.
  • It’s a conversation.

Why does everybody seem so damn gushing about these dull statements of the obvious, JUST because they come from a brand?

Do guidelines from brands make their activities any more successful than an agency’s activities? No. Brands have as many failures in social media as agencies (perhaps more), and are widely lambasted for not having “got it” or “done it properly” when they do get it wrong.

So why then don’t agencies, many of whom DO “get” social media” and who ALSO practice what they preach and who also have HEAPS of experience, and who KNOW how to integrate social media into a wider digital strategy and who HAVE got case studies from other clients, get a fair crack of the whip too?

The Flip Side

Perhaps the failings of agencies though, is that they are always trying to sell stuff – show me a seminar and you’ll see endless rows of agencies talking about case studies they have done.

Why can’t they talk about what they KNOW, or give an opinion about what they think, show where their heads are, what trends they think are emerging instead of spouting off about the one case study that has (to their surprise!), been a success.

What do you think? Are agencies hindered by the way they have always worked – the need to shout about their work being the only thing that gets them noticed? Do brands have that credibility that comes when they have no commercial benefit to gain from talking about their work or are they as susceptible to failure (and therefore as deserving of a hammering) as any agency?


12 comments
  1. mark bjornsgaard says: December 17, 20099:58 am

    it is a huge challenge no doubt – especially for large agencies still in a campaign / build mentality
    big overheads and quarterly targets mean adopting an “always on” / long term model is difficult
    our belief here @ dig (i did some slides on this a while ago http://www.slideshare.net/savioursofpop/an-agency-from-scratch) is that part of the solution is a consultancy model – where agencies act as ongoing advisors to brands and their social “businesses” – doing the “work” (apps, listening, research, community management, data etc) on an as needed basis
    In the last 3 months we’ve bought on board 3 new clients working in this manner (a restaurant chain, a major beauty product range and a political party). On our initial trials – it seems like a compelling model – more stable ongoing income, a broader client base and most importantly – working in a way that suits the “channel”

  2. mark bjornsgaard says: December 17, 20094:58 am

    it is a huge challenge no doubt – especially for large agencies still in a campaign / build mentality
    big overheads and quarterly targets mean adopting an “always on” / long term model is difficult
    our belief here @ dig (i did some slides on this a while ago http://www.slideshare.net/savioursofpop/an-agency-from-scratch) is that part of the solution is a consultancy model – where agencies act as ongoing advisors to brands and their social “businesses” – doing the “work” (apps, listening, research, community management, data etc) on an as needed basis
    In the last 3 months we’ve bought on board 3 new clients working in this manner (a restaurant chain, a major beauty product range and a political party). On our initial trials – it seems like a compelling model – more stable ongoing income, a broader client base and most importantly – working in a way that suits the “channel”

  3. […] Who says brands can only talk about success? | blending the mix blendingthemix.com/2009/12/16/who-says-brands-can-only-talk-about-success – view page – cached …or rather why we should actually beging to start trusting agencies a bit more now. OK, so this is a bit of a schizophrenic post – it goes all […]

  4. Rob says: December 17, 20093:16 pm

    I’ve had a crappy day, so this may not be lucid…from what I can see the vast majority of ‘advice’ on social media is bloody obvious anyway. And it misses the point really – being an expert on using social media technology is easy. Any idiot can use Twitter. Of course it’s a conversation, of course you should add value, etc. It’s not difficult.

    The bigger challenge is how the effects of social media affect your strategy. How do you, as a company, react? Can you react? Do you have the systems in place to respond to these ‘conversations’?

    Social media agencies need to advise better in my opinion. First, social media doesn’t really exist. It’s just the internet. The term is used as a shorthand for ‘web 2.0 technologies’ but that doesn’t really mean much. The new generation of web users won’t differentiate. Companies think that getting involved in Social Media is setting up a twitter account. Or asking for a ‘viral video’. This is why they think this advice is ‘amazing’. They’re missing the point.

    Too many agencies are happy to trade off this ignorance, and sell companies something based on it. You need an iPhone app? No problem. No idea how many of your customers have iPhones? Oh that’s ok. Is the app any use? Doesn’t matter, it’s an iPhone app. cf for Viral videos, etc, etc.

    Agencies need to advise deeper. Not just as SM as something seperate, but actually look into what this new world of communication means for them as a company and as an organisation and how it has an effect on EVERYTHING they do. See Umair and ‘awesomeness’, amongst others.

    Right, I need a brew.

  5. Rob says: December 17, 200910:16 am

    I’ve had a crappy day, so this may not be lucid…from what I can see the vast majority of ‘advice’ on social media is bloody obvious anyway. And it misses the point really – being an expert on using social media technology is easy. Any idiot can use Twitter. Of course it’s a conversation, of course you should add value, etc. It’s not difficult.

    The bigger challenge is how the effects of social media affect your strategy. How do you, as a company, react? Can you react? Do you have the systems in place to respond to these ‘conversations’?

    Social media agencies need to advise better in my opinion. First, social media doesn’t really exist. It’s just the internet. The term is used as a shorthand for ‘web 2.0 technologies’ but that doesn’t really mean much. The new generation of web users won’t differentiate. Companies think that getting involved in Social Media is setting up a twitter account. Or asking for a ‘viral video’. This is why they think this advice is ‘amazing’. They’re missing the point.

    Too many agencies are happy to trade off this ignorance, and sell companies something based on it. You need an iPhone app? No problem. No idea how many of your customers have iPhones? Oh that’s ok. Is the app any use? Doesn’t matter, it’s an iPhone app. cf for Viral videos, etc, etc.

    Agencies need to advise deeper. Not just as SM as something seperate, but actually look into what this new world of communication means for them as a company and as an organisation and how it has an effect on EVERYTHING they do. See Umair and ‘awesomeness’, amongst others.

    Right, I need a brew.

  6. […] I would have said as much on my company blog) which is a fundamental problem and one which ties up my previous post about clients needing to place more trust in the agencies they appoint – that they are doing […]

  7. […] I would have said as much on my company blog) which is a fundamental problem and one which ties up my previous post about clients needing to place more trust in the agencies they appoint – that they are doing this […]

  8. Anonymous says: December 22, 20092:42 pm

    @mark i’m glad to see someone else taking the same sensible steps.

    It is interesting that the more “engagement work we get involved with, the more this stuff lends itself to PR’s business model of ongoing retainer work. That’s not to call it a mercenary chase for “safe”, regular money, but anybody can build stuff…it’s the ongoing dialogue that is what REALLY matters to people.

    @Rob, if that’s a lucid response, I can’t wait for something coherent. I totally agree with you. It’s way too easy for any muppet to quote the same crap time and again without ever getting into any details of either what they are going to do, what experience they have of it and especially, what possible benefit it will have.

  9. paul.fabretti says: December 22, 20099:42 am

    @mark i’m glad to see someone else taking the same sensible steps.

    It is interesting that the more “engagement work we get involved with, the more this stuff lends itself to PR’s business model of ongoing retainer work. That’s not to call it a mercenary chase for “safe”, regular money, but anybody can build stuff…it’s the ongoing dialogue that is what REALLY matters to people.

    @Rob, if that’s a lucid response, I can’t wait for something coherent. I totally agree with you. It’s way too easy for any muppet to quote the same crap time and again without ever getting into any details of either what they are going to do, what experience they have of it and especially, what possible benefit it will have.

  10. mindshare says: January 14, 20107:26 pm

    An efficient and scalable business model combined with innovation is necessary to stay ahead of the competition. But individually these are not sufficient to make a successful global brand. Five further overlapping components are required: 1. A great brand experience, 2. A clear and consistent positioning, 3. A sense of dynamism, 4. A sense of authenticity, 5. A strong corporate culture.

  11. mindshare says: January 15, 201012:26 am

    An efficient and scalable business model combined with innovation is necessary to stay ahead of the competition. But individually these are not sufficient to make a successful global brand. Five further overlapping components are required: 1. A great brand experience, 2. A clear and consistent positioning, 3. A sense of dynamism, 4. A sense of authenticity, 5. A strong corporate culture.

  12. […] I would have said as much on my company blog) which is a fundamental problem and one which ties up my previous post about clients needing to place more trust in the agencies they appoint – that they are doing […]

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