As marketers do we need to practice what we preach?

Something that’s been discussed at length in the past, and is also a topic on the agenda for the forthcoming Bean Cast, is the whole issue of agencies practicing what they preach in terms of social media.

So…it’s easy to rock up and recycle some stats and facts about consumers taking control, being part of the conversation, blah, blah…but do you have any credibility if you don’t have any 1st hand experience of being in this space yourself?

Not surprisingly my answer is not really.   I wouldn’t go as far as saying that you need years of Internet experience, but some kind of hands-on, direct knowledge is crucial.

Unfortunately AdWeek has stats that show that all too often what we do is window dressing – while 56% of agency bosses say their company has a blog, 66% blog no more than once a month.   Similarly 56% say they have a Twitter presence, but at the same time 57% tweet once a month or less.

Part of the problem, from personal experience, is finding the right way to use agency profiles so that it’s not a straight forward sales pitch, and that it’s updated often enough.

At Cow our Twitter feed was until last month, used fairly infrequently, for the simple reason that the two people updating it – my fellow digital Cow, Louise, and myself – each had our own personal Twitter profiles and just naturally concentrated on those 1st, even if it concerned agency news.

The solution we came up with was to give the feed to everyone in the agency on rotation where they talk about things of interest to them, which personally I think makes it less sales focused, as well as making it look more busy.   It also puts more of a human stamp on our – corporate – social media profiles.

An example from Australia

On a much larger scale, McCanns in Australia and New Zealand, seems to have much the same in mind.  Strategist Mark Pollard has a post up today on how the agency is celebrating its 50th anniversary in Oz – and a key part involves a complete website revamp – preview image above.

By the looks of things, the site will become primarily ’social’, much like CP&B did the other month.   But there’s an added element in that McCann staffers have created new stuff specifically for it.

When the site goes live tomorrow, new content created by staff in Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney will go live, with an internal incentive for the content that gets viewed the most.

According to Mark, “through the project we’re hoping people get to experience the power – or perhaps lack of – of their own personal networks, the role content plays in social and search, the unpredictability of being online, how being transparent and authentic is not to be feared, and so on.”

And so to rounds things off, maybe the secret in where some agencies go wrong can be found in the questions asked in that survey.

Agencies bosses were asked about social media…yet these are people who still by and large learned their craft in a traditional marketing world.   Some of us are ‘digital immigrants’ in the sense that we’ve made the effort to learn, while others are less active.

We tell our clients that consumers now have control over our brands.  Perhaps the same applies to us.  Rather than adopting a top down model in controlling our social media policies, the way for agencies to become both authentic and effective is for everyone who is part of our organisation to feed into them.

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