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03/23/2009 Agency Social Media Strategy: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell


Five digital trends to watch for 2009 Edelman Digital:
“Devouring media is out. Selective ignorance and friends as quality filters are in.”

Recent conversation with agency CEO:
“If another person says the word ‘Twitter’ I’m going to explode!”

Agencies are having a tough time with social media. It’s not all that different from the troubles they were having with the Web 10 years ago. We all realize the challenges with social media: it’s hard to manage, it’s hard to sell and it’s near impossible to make any money on the deal.

I have a simple suggestion for these struggle agencies: Forget social media. Don’t ask about it, don’t jump into it and don’t tell clients about it.

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If you’re one of the agencies that do get it, you can skip the rest. But for the traditionals, read on.

Do what you do best: branding, advertising and media placements. This is what you’ve made a good living from over the past 50 years. Stick to your basics and just let this social stuff pass.

Forget all the blogs out there, too. There’s just one blog you need to read and that’s the Ad Contrarian. Just follow Bob. I think you’ll relate to him really well and he’ll put things into proper perspective for you.

With a little luck, everything will go back to normal in a few years. Maybe we’ll find a new advertising model where the 30-second spot still dominates. Top-down branding could make a comeback as the economic downturn opens the door for new totalitarian movements. Maybe, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

In the mean time, let the social media craziness go to the smaller guys, the independents and entrepreneurs, groups without lots of overhead and who aren’t really a threat to you anyway. That way no one will blame you if the social stuff goes awry. Of course, if something good does happen, just let the brand take credit.

And if your clients ask about, just tell them how much extra work it will mean for them, personally, and they probably won’t ask again. Just don’t tell them to watch companies who are making it work.

Sit back, close your ears, and keep your head down. After all, it took over 100 years to bring GM to its knees so you should have at least a couple of years left.

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