Marketers Slam Agencies for Social Marketing Torpor

03 March 2008

NEW YORK: Eager to jump the social marketing bandwagon before its wheels get mired in the rut of obsolescence, clientside marketers are blaming agencies for their lack of expertise in media such as Facebook, Bebo, MySpace et al.

So reports TNS Media Intelligence/Cymfony, after conducting soundings among over sixty marketers in North America, France and the UK.

The researcher inquired how marketers were faring in their exploitation of social media. And in particular what they thought of their agencies' expertise in the now-fashionable genre.

The gist of their reply? "Agencies don't get it!" 

The marketers complain that agencies of all disciplines – media, creative, PR, direct and promo – in the main treat social channels as though they were conventional media.

And clients also believe the ideas agencies put forward are all too often unsupported by hands-on expertise in social channel marketing.

Says Fedex marketer Bryan Simkins: "I think traditional ad agencies have very little contribution to make. They are mostly driven by their compensation models which are made for closed media. Those models don't apply in open media."

His view were echoed by David Harris, e-business manager at Suzuki: "The existing [agency] marketing partners do not understand the ins and outs of the social media space. They can do more harm than good if they apply old models." 

The perceived lack of social media competence within agencies is likely to open doors to new providers, believes Jim Nail, chief marketing and strategy officer at TNS/Cymfony,

"You get the sense that agencies talk a good game," he says. "They put up a good presentation about what social media is, but when you get to implementing campaigns, the day-to-day management skills are not meeting the marketers' expectations."

Almost half the marketers consulted opine that social-media marketing needs to be handled at an executive level within their agencies, backed by "significant" resources.

Another 30% agreed with the statement that social media is a "revolutionary opportunity."

But not for too much longer, perhaps. As the hairline crack that's appeared in Facebook's growth dam might imply.

Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff