— blending the mix

You don’t need a social media expert, you need a digital strategist…what crap

Matt had an interesting post about schadenfreude and how easy it is for any and everybody to jump on the “brandwagon” when a brand does something wrong online. Seth said something similar – and I can’t help feeling there is even more of it happening to the social media trade too. Here’s just one recent example saying the same old, same old, but this time about the much-ridiculed social media expert.

I’m proud of Gabba calling ourselves a social media agency. We’re not ashamed to admit we operate a range of services in and around the somewhat ambiguous “social space”, nor I suspect will people like Brian, Chris and Jeremiah. Sure, each has a different spin on what they do, but do they add any less value because of what they call themselves?

As a social media agency, we know we are smart, digital natives, we’re bloody good at what we do and get results (our client list suggests other people think so too), but does any of this come by isolating social media channels from other digital channels? No. Has it come from thinking that the ONLY way is through social channels? No. It comes from smart, joined-up, digital thinking.

Sure, the post makes the point that this stuff can be learned, but:

  • If SEO can be learnt and taken in-house, why do SEO agencies exist?
  • If Google say PPC is so easy to do, why do media companies sell the management of PPC campaigns?
  • If a business has an in-house tech/dev team, why do digital agencies exist?
  • If a business has a PR/Communications department, why do PR agencies exist?

There are dozens of examples in the digital space where tasks needing to be done properly have to be done by skilled people:

  • Being able to write an email does not make me a copywriter.
  • Sticking a few pertinent keywords into a web-page does not make us an SEO expert
  • Does me having a Facebook profile mean I understand the intricacies of reputation, nay, crisis management?

You get the point…

But the reality is that there ARE subtleties in behaviour on social networks that warrant brands especially, to behave in different ways, all of which have an impact upon their public perception and reputation – now who would you rather have managing THAT? A specialist agency with a “nom du jour” who operates professionally in these channels day in day out, or a digital agency with a much more sensible name, established “raison d’etre” but who has little experience of managing reputation in social channels and who has perhaps employed a couple of bouncy young graduates to operate their client’s social media channels?

For god’s sake, don’t confuse personal use with professional. You’re on a hiding to nothing.

So, get off your high horses people, there is enough to go around for all of us, whatever we are called, whatever and however we do it. You don’t like it? Put up, shut up or change whilst the rest of us get on with it.


6 comments
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Paul Fabretti, Adrian Johnson. Adrian Johnson said: Like. RT @paulfabretti "I couldn't go to sleep tonight without getting this off my chest…"( http://bit.ly/a6CBO2 ) […]

  2. Bkcl says: June 1, 20102:24 am

    People who always criticise are doing so cause of there own failures – not yours!

    Well said paul

  3. Jon says: June 1, 20102:31 am

    Designers have had this for years. Give a marketing department Corel Draw, Paint, PowerPoint(!), etc. and they’ll think they can design better than their agency. Sometimes I don’t know what’s worse – them trying to do it themselves or being so prescriptive that the original design turns into a dog’s dinner and the designer has a neurosis.

  4. Rob says: June 1, 20104:04 am

    Yep. It’s the confusion, I believe, between social media, and social media tools. Social media tools are easy to use; social media, and its impacts, challenges, effects is a totally different kettle of fish. *Can* anyone update a twitter account for a company? Of course – the reason social media is so popular is that the tools ARE easy to use. *Should* anyone operate a twitter account for a company? Er no. And in a time of crisis – much like any public communication – you should ask the experts.

    For example – can anyone brief the press via a phone call? Sure – everyone can talk and use a telephone. Should they? Would that even be considered in a company? Rhetorical question…

  5. Gino says: June 1, 201011:02 am

    Specialists are specialists for a reason. I don’t want a brain surgeon operating on my knee, but I want him to know my anatomy well enough (actually pretty bloody well) that if general surgery is required and he can do it, to actually do it. The more complex stuff which isn’t his area, well, leave that to your other porsche driving friends.

    The biggest thing I find frustrating is that Social Media is being confused with this over simplistic idea of a facebook and twitter presence, and that anyone can do it! If that’s the case, where do you start to measure success? Where do you create conversation and where do you analyse this, and how?

    All Social Media nay-sayers may be reluctant, and it’s understandable. It’s term was coined 4 years ago (roughly) and some unscrupulous agencies have jumped on without thinking about it too much, but those who stick their lives and souls into it, are passionate and bloody good at the intricacies deserve praise. Well done Gabba, I wish you all the best, especially proving these people wrong!

  6. Mark says: July 11, 201010:38 am

    Playing catchup on some blogs and missed this particular post first time round.
    Nicely argued Paul. Smart joined up digital thinking in action (to quote you).

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