I came across this Ragan piece titled, ‘Big-name consulting companies fail Twitter test‘, by Wendy Marx.

There is already a discussion thread about how PR companies do not blog or tweet from their official IDs enough and hence are incapable or not appropriate for handling clients’ blogs or twitter profile.

I’d like to think aloud here – is this charge like telling a film critic to be a good filmmaker before he can critique films?

Let me elaborate.

I know of quite a few social media gurus who are not active (hyperactive) online with their tweets or blog posts. But they are darn good in meeting clients’ expectations, getting internal teams to work on the mandate and deliver.

I assume there is a difference between visibly displaying your social media smarts…and applying it in a client perspective and deliver results. If you do both, that is ideal, of course!

There are many advertising and PR agencies which have a poor web presence…and even poorer social media presence. The problem is that someone should be doing them, but perhaps spend that time doing their personal web and social media presence. During a client meeting that personal profile is sold as the team’s and hence, agency’s profile too.

Is that a better and more honest representation of the agency’s skill given how an agency is nothing but its people? The agency, per se, may own a set of processes or tools and this is something that can be replicated across any agency, given time and resources.

But, it is people who bring unique perspectives to that agency and doesn’t it seem fair that they own their online profiles?

Take the Forrester case. Forrester issued a diktat that its people will share knowledge and insights only on official Forrester blogs. If those insights are gained using proprietary tools owned by Forrester, this suggestion makes perfect sense. But, if they are opinions and generic insights, wouldn’t it make more sense to bolster individual consultants’ profiles online than pooling everything in a brand-owned destination? The question is…what happens when the person/consultant leaves the organization?

The most common justification for the results concluded in the above link is, ‘If the agency cannot their own brand online, how can they handle others’?’.

Is handling one’s own brand a case study? Or is it only about handling a paid client’s brand? If you consider a personal branding example, we all own our personal brands and update our professional profiles on LinkedIn with great care. We talk about client work done and results. But, personal branding is uni-dimensional – we have just that to talk about. At best, we can get others to recommend or ratify that work.

For organizations and brands, the branding is multi-dimensional – they are a brand on their own, of course. But, the individual brands of people who work also gets tagged with the organizational brand.

So, is it enough if the organization talks (or makes case studies) of its paid clients’ work? Have you ever seen a social media agency talk about it’s own website, Facebook, or Twitter profile’s success? Does it matter?

Also, choosing one tool (Twitter) and talking about the respective organization’s delay in responding on that tool…is it a fair way to assume that they are as good/as bad with their client’s profiles? Is it just possible that they are busy dealing with client’s brands since the clients are paying and that work can end up as a case study?

If you think I’m taking sides, you’re mistaken. I’m merely thinking aloud. I know of enough agencies that have a kick-ass website and social presence…and struggling to find work. And an equal number of agencies which have horrendous online presence, but have super individual stars creating and sharing opinions on the subject and finding loads of clients!

Within the context of Wendy’s question on Twitter (that she posed to these big-name consulting firms), I agree it is a poor example that they have a Twitter presence but don’t necessarily check it in real time. That perhaps beats the purpose of being on Twitter and it’d be a better idea to remove that profile and not give an impression that they are out there in real time!



3 thoughts on “Tweet before you preach?

  1. Hi Karthik,

    What Wendy Marx demonstrated might not be the perfect example. My only doubt is, If the same exercise have been carried against Dell, Ford, Starbucks, BestBuy, Zappos etc, we will be talking about the awesomeness of big corporations' attitude towards social media.
    So do we need to assume that only the companies who touches end consumers need to be active in Social media?

  2. Good discussion. My perspective is that there are new breed of individuals who are coming into existence in this social world. These are folks who dont want to reveal their identity and believe that social networking tools actually weaken their competence. Hence even though they work for a company and lead digital projects but they would refuse to go social using Facebook or Twitter.

    Like to hear from everyone their perspective

  3. Interesting discussion and glad my original post stirred additional thoughts. I agree with Manoj that the consumer-facing brands are doing a much better job on social media. However, today any company can safely assume that consumer or clients are on social media and should be reaching out. I don't think you can be in business today without some social media presence unless you have the most unbeatable product around.

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