May 132010

Todd Defren’s PR Squared blog is usually a good read, and a couple of days ago he wrote a particularly interesting post. He talked about how every agency is jumping on the social media bandwagon, and the way they describe their social media quals are sounding awfully similar. He compared his own description against those of two other agencies, Powered and Rosetta. Here’s the link to his post.

Strategic Communications Group doesn’t do B2C PR while these agencies do, but this post really resonated with me. We’ve gone through a major transformation in the last two years, with approximately 75% of our revenue coming from social media work, not traditional PR. That’s one of my big takeaways from this post — the decline of traditional PR in importance.

Powered and Rosetta flat out tell prospects (at least in this post) to look elsewhere if that’s what they want from their agency. Defren doesn’t go that far, but he doesn’t stress it as a strength of his agency either. We tell the same thing to prospects. While a certain amount of PR is needed for market awareness and visibility, traditional media continues to grow smaller as it wrestles with finding a new business model in the Internet age. Its importance in an integrated PR strategy continues to recede accordingly.

My other takeaway is that too many agencies make social media sound so mysterious and complicated. At least in the b2b and b2g worlds, you’ve got to start simple. Social media is nothing more or less than real-world behavior ported online. People tend to spend time with those of like backgrounds and interests — that’s what social media is, with the added element that these groups self-identify.

It’s the power of the Internet and SEO that makes this potentially revolutionary, plus the ability to bypass the media and address individuals directly. (Check out comments to this post where I go back and forth with Government 2.0 guru Mark Drapeau on whether social media is better understood as a set of tools, or as online human behavior). But it’s pretty straight-forward to get started:

  • Have a strategy for social media that supports your business goals — “we’ve got to get in because our competitors are” doesn’t cut it
  • Integrate the sales team from the beginning — Strategic helps its clients meet revenue goals, and if the sales team perceives social media as just another marketing campaign, they won’t buy in
  • Produce good content, repurpose existing content and focus SEO efforts around a small set of keywords

So the next time you hear the same social media pitch from a PR firm, an online marketing specialist and an advertising agency, just remember those steps. Or drop me a comment and we’ll talk more!

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  8 Responses to “Social Media Value Prop Getting Awfully Generic”

  1. Good post, Chris. You’re spot on about consultants creating this perception that it is challenging to put in place a social media program. The tactics are easy. It’s the strategy, alignment with measurable benchmarks and content creation which are challenging.

  2. […] at Work, Wine and Wheels we are reminded again that there is true value in social media campaigns. ¬†Jumping into social media is simple enough if you follow the three steps which Chris deals you […]

  3. Hi Chris,
    Some great thoughts here. Two things I’d like to clarify though:

    1) Rosetta is a digital marketing agency; for any given client, we tend to work closely with the PR agency of record, regardless of whether that agency has social media approaches inherent in what they do (like SHIFT).

    2) My intent in participating in the post with Todd and Aaron wasn’t to make social media sound complicated; rather, that it should be part and parcel to other marketing tactics. Social tactics need to be infused in communication strategies, SEO, creative ideas, media, measurement etc. along with other marketing tactics a company would typically be executing in a structured way.

    Completely agree with your last points on your discussion with Mark, but I’d add more than just the sales team for bullet #2 – market research, PR, marketing, innovation, product development, customer service, legal, even HR could have the same statement about being on board with something from the beginning. We do play a role in facilitating that given that each manage customer touchpoints in some way.

    Hope that helps – thanks for the thoughts.

    • Adam — thanks a lot for the comment, appreciate it. I didn’t mean to suggest you try and make it complicated. As I state b2c is different, maybe there is a broader understanding of socmed principles. We’re still doing a good bit of educating and evangelizing in the b2b and b2g worlds.

      Regarding the sales team bullet — you’re right of course. I called out sales b/c Strategic looks to tie the ROI of social media back to lead gen and deal capture. Often we’re not the AOR, many times we work directly with the field marketing unit of a LOB. So that’s the reason for the focus on making sure sales is on board.

  4. I agree with much of your takeaways, Chris, though shame on me if I overly de-emphasized tradiotnal PR. We still do a ton of it! ;)

    • Todd — thanks for the comment, and the clarification. I really enjoy your blog and the insights you share. You started a really interesting conversation here — I’m just trying to keep it going. Hope you return to this topic again soon.

  5. Very interesting post. Really!

  6. If only more than 86 people would hear about this.

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