Social vs Traditional Marketing Agencies

Above: I’m thinking about the differences between traditional marketing agencies and social media agencies, this video by Jim the founder of Ignite Social Media agency does a good job explaining the difference. I like how he points out how putting ads on sites, or doing link backs for SEO don’t qualify as engaging in two-way dialog.

Above: Andrew Vascellari gives a comedic rendition of what not to look for in a social media agency, starting with this must read list from Geoff Livingston (update: with Beth Harte).

17 Replies to “Social vs Traditional Marketing Agencies”

  1. Hi Jeremiah. To be honest, the first video did not give me a clear impression of what the major difference between social and traditional media agencies is. I work for a digital marketing agency as social media strategist. But in fact, a lot of our work is all about microsites and suff like that (rather traditional digital media). We also bring content and tech guys together at one table without necessarily calling that social media. So, what’s the difference? In my opinion it’s the scope. Because an agency in a dialogue which has to keep track of a conversation for months has a completely different task to agencies which launch a project after 2-3 months of work…and then it’s done…

  2. Thanks, Jeremiah. I would like to make sure my compatriot in crime Beth Harte gets equal credit for the list. It was really just a bit of a spoof that became much bigger.

  3. Hi Jeremiah, thanks for picking up the list that Geoff Livingston and I worked on…it was a bit off the cuff and surprisingly generated a lot of great conversation, which is always insightful. Andrea did a spectacular job with his video version and additions to the list.

  4. With all due respect to Jim, I think he’s underestimating the sophistication of integrated agencies. It’s obviously true that social media engagement is different from advertising or PR, but I believe that fact is well understood by most reasonably intelligent ad and PR agencies. There are just as many advantages to working with an integrated agency as there are disadvantages, assuming, of course, that the agency in question understands the nuances of the various types of engagements they undertake and have dedicated staff and demonstrable experience in those domains.

    In the end, social media comes down to interpersonal interactions, so it’s really down to the individuals who work on a particular piece of business, not necessarily the agency name or business model.

  5. Alright, that was disorganized – Jeremiah please delete my first response…let me try once more in two sentences of 140 characters or less:

    -You don’t need a whole agency dedicated to social media – your current marketing/PR firm should by now be able to fill that role.

    -If not, get a new marketing/PR firm because splitting your communications will fragment things too much and kill consistency.

  6. The problem I see rising up is that we are creating another silo called social media with the effect that we once more don’t integrate with other silos like media or strategy. We draw lines where our customers don’t see one and so we fail.

    The reason why I joined a big marketing agency (Razorfish in Germany) as a social media strategist is to create integrated campaigns for clients which have the individual mix of strategy, media, analytics and social media for that client. I don’t want my own department. I want to sit next to the media people, have constant discussions with the analytics guys and argue with strategy to create synergies. Boutique agencies simply can’t offer that.

  7. Thanks for this posts. I like the 2nd video and realize that I have made some of the same mistakes along the way. Keep these kind insights coming, Cheers!

  8. Oh dear — how ironic that Jim uses a communication that looks and sounds remarkably close to a traditional ad of the most conventional kind (talking head), with a cluttered, fairly dull script, to convey that his agency is a specialist that knows how to leverage the dynamics of social media for a new kind of communication. Not entirely convincing.

  9. Thanks for sharing the video Jeremiah!

    + I’m glad people liked it 😀
    All the inspiration came from the first 25 great points by Geoff & Beth.

    And now after reading your post and watching Jim… who knows 😉 probably I’ll record another video but this time about ‘Social vs Traditional Marketing Agencies’


  10. @Jeremiah: Thanks for embedding the video, even though it’s about 18 months old and, as Stephen pointed out, not exactly cutting edge at this point.

    Re @Mark Logan, a LOT of the integrated agencies don’t get social media at the granular level, which is often why our clients come to us. Or, they have people that do get it, but no efficient way to bring them onto the team, because the current team members think they understand it–that’s most dangerous.

    Having said that, there can be value in an integrated agency, or there’s value in using us, or value in a combination. It depends on the situation.

    Since I made that video, though, we’ve been hired by Intel, Nature Made, The Body Shop, Comcast and others, all of whom have access to large agencies. In some cases, we work with large agencies like Razorfish or Ogilvy, and that’s worked quite well.

    Maybe I should get Andrea to redo my video? Update it a bit? 🙂


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