Social Media Lessons For Brands & Their Agencies From Football



Toby Bloomberg
12/08/2010

Beth Kanter and Allison Fuller said, "social media use is a contact sport, not a spectator sport" (The Networked Nonprofit). It's so easy to buy your bag of peanuts and sit in the bleachers as you watch your agency kick the ball into flight. Oh sure, you might have been in the Xs & Os meeting helping to create the strategy.

You feel that you are an integral part of the play. And you very well may be. However, huddled with your branded blanket watching the game, you're not on the field. Unlike an advertisement, press release or CEO speech where your customers accept that someone else has crafted the words, your fans assume that it is You the Brand People who are playing on the field.

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Not only have you shifted reality for your raving fans but you've relinquished control of the ball/ brand to your agency. Remember: who ever controls the play (or the conversation) controls the relationship. Even the best intentioned interactive, ad, PR agencies or consultants can easily fall into the illusion that doing less for a client is actually doing more.

Client cheers!

We don't have time.

The agency can write better than our CEO.

Who will know or care if a tweet comes from the agency or the brand people?

Doing more is built into the DNA of the billable hour agency model.

Agency cheers!

The more we do the more you'll love us.

The stronger the relation.

The more we'll get paid.

When it comes to an agency or consultant social media service (versus social media services) there is a new model emerging. It's one built on positioning the agency or consultant as a "sherpa" who guides and advises. That is far more critical than writing a tweet or a Facebook status update. It's also far more difficult.

Instead of the client sitting in the stands encouragng the agency to make that social media touchdown, the agency becomes the cheer leader and the coach. The brand people make the plays and interact with their fans.

Role & Responsibilities of the New Social Media Agency/Consultant

High Level Perspective - The role of the social media agency/consultant becomes much more complex as a social media sherpa. A trusted partnership must exist which crosses every area/department that touches the customer .. from marketing communications, consumer insights and PR to customer care, HR and beyond. I call this aligning the social enterprise.

Creating Strategy- Development of integrated plan. Helping to develop guidelines. Leading conversations about social media ethics, transparency, authenticity as it relates to the company culture and brand values/promise.

Monitoring the Conversations On The Social Web - Utilizing tools to create reports that track what the discussions about the brand, industry, people etc.

Tracking Changes in Tools & New Tools - Social media is moving faster than the average speed of a football thrown in an NFL game (40-60 MPH). It's a challenge to keep up (How many times in the past month has Facebook changed it's rules? Or LinkedIn it's functionality?) with the continuous developments in social media. Providing analysis of which are beneficial and which are shiny new toys.

Creative - Development/building out of branded social media platforms e.g., Facebook, games, ads.

Update: Forgot one of the most important roles ...

Education: Helping your clients understand not only the culture of social media and the big picture but the tactical execution e.g., how to write tweets, posts,etc., social media etiquette and ethics, participating versus messaging, etc.

There are many ways an agency or consultant can be of social media service to a client beyond kicking the social media ball on the field.