Question Reality

Jason Baer, writing on Marketing Profs Daily Fix, argues that there’s a power struggle over social media and who will “control it”–the ad guys, PR, digital or the client. Baer believes there’s “much at stake” and that ad agencies won’t miss this ship, like they did with digital.
I couldn’t disagree more.
For one, most “ad agencies” will miss the ship, since they don’t see social media and content development as advertising. Secondly, there’s no power struggle going on. For a power struggle to occur, lots and lots of money has to exchange hands. What is going on is an increased need for social media services and consulting. So, there is a scramble, but it’s not happening in corner offices, it’s happening in coworking digs and coffeeshops.
My friend Spike Jones left a comment on the Marketing Profs post that I like a lot.

IMO, social media is the flavor of the month. There are waaaaaay too many people on Twitter and Facebook (talking to themselves) who think it’s the be-all, end-all. It’s a great tool. But it’s just a tool. It’s not the answer. And it can easily become part of the problem.

Spike also reminds us that 92% of all WOM happens offline. Spike’s a smart guy.
I think it’s great that independent professionals who have made a name for themselves in this new media arena can and do consult with marketers, large and small. What’s not great is approaching marketing problems from too far inside any one discipline. Marketing is more complex than that. Thus, the answers clients seek are also more complex. There’s a place for the social media expert on the team, for sure. But someone at the client or at the agency has to configure all the pieces–direct, content, advertising, events, digital, WOM–into a workable whole.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.