A couple of weeks ago, I was speaking at an organization’s conference about using social media. At the end of my talk, I received a question I didn’t expect:
“How do we find the REAL social media experts? How do we know who we can trust to help us with social media?”
Of course, I gave her my card after my talk, but I think this woman brought up a good question. And, it’s been one I’ve been pondering ever since.
The digital divide
I think we’ve got a huge divide in the social media space.
On one hand, you have traditional PR and marketing agencies that have the reputation and deep expertise on executing campaigns and strategies. They are expert communicators who know how to build relationships.
Yet, somewhat surprisingly, many traditional agencies are behind the curve when it comes to digital marketing and social media.
After all, one would think that strategic communicators would easily “get” how to engage on the social web. But for some strange reason, many traditional agencies are slow to adapt to new technologies.
On the other hand, you have so-called social media “gurus” and purely digital shops professing the wonders of social media and offer it as the answer to every business problem.
Yes, the “gurus” may have a keen understanding of the tools or know how to build large networks for themselves, but many don’t know how social media fits into an overall marketing strategy or how to tie their efforts to real results.
So, where does that leave us?
Where agencies should be headed
I think the firms that are best positioned to thrive in today’s marketing world are those that have a background executing traditional marketing and communications strategies, yet know how to apply those principles in the digital landscape.
Here’s what I think that means – the best agencies will:
- Know how to integrate digital marketing (social media, content marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click, email, etc.) into the overall marketing mix;
- Continue to place an emphasis on smart, strategic communication – regardless of the medium;
- Understand that social media is just a series of tools and not a magic bullet that will guarantee success;
- Stay on top of the trends, tools and resources needed to get the job done;
- Partner with others or bring in outside help, when needed, to complement the skills you offer in-house;
- Determine the best strategies and tactics that will help generate results for the business; and
- Focus on measuring their efforts so you can easily make adjustments when needed and also tie metrics to results.
Certainly, there are exceptions to every rule. There are some traditional agencies out there that “get it”, as well as self-professed gurus whose skills go deeper than setting up Twitter accounts.
But, I think the best agencies for helping your business achieve results will bring both strategy and knowledge of the tools to the table. (That’s what we do anyway.)
Otherwise, you may end up with a lopsided approach that doesn’t move the needle for your business.
What do you think?