Last month, a big internet marketing poobah sent me a rather patronizing tweet to chastise me for inferring that social media sits at the top of the interactive food-chain.
My first response (which I didn’t tweet) was, “Honey, if it makes you sleep better at night to think I’m that ignorant about my industry, be my guest.”
Of course I don’t believe social media sits at the top of the food chain.
But, many of the companies who hire us do.
We bill ourselves as a “social media firm” for two simple reasons: search and sales – that’s the kind of help people are looking for and that’s the kind of service they are looking to buy.
Unfortunately, a lot of social media firms and consultants are taking advantage of these companies by selling them social media as the end-all, be-all of their interactive strategy. [Insert endless navel-gazing debates on "the death of social media experts” here…].
Let me be clear...
We sell companies what they think they want and then, when we get inside, we give them what they need – which usually isn't just a social media strategy, but a digital communications strategy.
The fundamentals of the two are the same – not just a focus on the information you want to push out and the parameters of the technical tools with which you choose to push those messages – but the strategic oversight of the nature in which you conduct business and engage in conversations online with all of your clients/customers, vendors, employees, media contacts, etc.
Sometimes, in taking this wide lens approach, we do end up finding ourselves at the top of the food chain – not just directing the social media, but helping a company wrap their heads around their entire marketing and communications ecosystem.
And, we’re finding ourselves beating some major interactive players out of gigs because – where they walked in and pitched a big fancy new website – we started with the basics and asked, “who do you want to talk to and why?”
Now, just because we use social media as our invitation to the strategic main course, it doesn’t mean we automatically assume we are the goddesses of everything digital. We rely on a pretty big virtual Rolodex of partner firms and consultants to help us integrate the client’s strategy across all digital mediums.
But regardless, I get that it probably feels weird for other agencies to see “the social people” getting a seat at the head of the table. If I was an established interactive marketing professional, I’d probably be tempted to send patronizing tweets, too.
But, that’s our natural and strategic evolution as a company.
We never set out to merely teach companies how to tweet. We want to teach them how to talk, and that’s part of a digital communications structure that looks like it’s here to stay.
So, just a heads-up...we are, too.
I’m a consultant, strategist, author, educator, and speaker with more than 30 years of professional experience. I’m passionately curious, fairly sassy, kinda dorky and seriously good at what I do.