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Will social agencies become media buyers or will media agencies learn social content strategy?

I literally have been talking about this for over a year and people thought I was crazy.

I distinctly remember sitting on the beach in Montauk last summer discussing this topic with one of my friends (who also works in the social space, and she agreed with me) I said— “Every algorithmic change Facebook has made over the last year has decreased the organic reach for brands and indicator this will continue to happen. When will people realize that a community manager’s current role is not sustainable unless they are trained as media buyers.”


Jan you dont have any friends

Everyone is talking about how Facebook’s drop in organic reach has changed the social game to a pay to play market.  Facebook Facebook Facebook . The thing is Facebook is NOT the only social platform on the planet—its just the biggest, everyone’s most popular pretty blue default platform. Brands can’t reach “their” consumer audiences anymore (audiences are  essentially rented via the platform they engaged with them on—they don’t “own “ them or have access to them outside of that platform.)

A lot of brands have reacted to the news and stepped forward saying they’re “diversifying their marketing strategy more by putting an emphasis on their owned websites instead”. Note- the strategist inside me wishes they had said “we saw equal or increased traffic/activity on our owned website and that has prompted us to refocus on that” Just sayin. Analytics don’t lie and should inform your choices.

Whatever it takes for the wakeup call to happen. But the thing is this. Facebook is not the only social platform your audiences are on…. with a paid ad component. Social marketing, regardless of the platform, requires investment not only in creating and posting content for a specific platform specs, but also to attract and sustain an audience. That is a fact.

Twitter also has a VERY robust ad product which I used for the Birdi Indiegogo campaign and actually outperformed other paid social campaigns we ran. (Inbox me for more detail on that if you want.)

Pinterest also has an ad product (a buy more expensive than the average 1 bedroom apt in NYC but who’s counting really?)

As does Instagram—(THANK god it’s heavily regulated against bad spamvertising) and Forrester just reported Instagram has the highest engagement of any social platform (Instagram engagement rate is 4.21% – ie: Instagram delivered these brands 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.) Important to note—“engagement” (always subjective depending on your criteria) is great and all—but truth be told it is much harder to place or track a CTA from Instagram so I understand the initial hesitation from brands beyond awareness—time to challenge your strategists and creative teams!


Adapting. A never ending game

The more social platforms move to a paid model- the current roles/skills on our teams will need to adapt. The focus as of late has been an majority voice—social agencies need to mature. Makes sense.

Digiday said it perfectly today: “Social agencies — digital agencies that focus on advertising on the social Web — are arguably the most affected by these changes. When your business model is predicated on delivering results via social platforms, and the largest social platform changes how it treats ads, the only option is to adapt. Specifically, social agencies are being forced to mature into shops that combine research, media buying and higher quality creative work.”

Check. 360i, Deep Focus and Likeable Media are probably retooling their staffing plans/FTEs right now. But what about Brand teams that have internal social teams and community managers—what now? What do they do?

Social content posted by brand community managers will eventually become “paid” media—so we are effectively, finally putting the MEDIA into social. Ha.

Case in point:

  • Do community managers have media buying experience, capabilities, do they have budgets for media spend? Probably not.
    (Most of those “media” budgets are held by media buying teams)
  • Do media buying teams understand social content strategies, conversations and relationships? Probably not.


Possible solutions

An intersection of 3 disciplines will make this work.  Disciplines with complementary skills that all contribute to social success.

 social media trifecta

I don’t think this hybrid model yet exists in 1 person- but maybe they are out there.


  • Perhaps we’ll see new roles emerge within agencies and brand teams.
  • Perhaps we’ll see more social agencies entering into partnerships with social ad-tech platforms like Ketchum did back in January with Kenshoo a company that supports automated buying across various social-media platforms.
  • Perhaps we’ll see media agencies try to make a play for a social strategy, creative and content capability.  (my guess is they will shy away from that and stick with the DSP expertise they know).

Time will tell.

But it’s all intersecting right now and calling for a new playbook to effectively bring MEDIA into social.







Foursquare moves search & discovery to the forefront and creates Swarm for friend location stalking.

Snapchat introduces a video calling feature (that REALLY puts friends in your face).

Vine moves to a web-based YouTube model (b/c all video should be channel agnostic and quite frankly- who has the attention span of more that 6 seconds on a video network anyway?)

Facebook proclaimed “more privacy for users and building trust” during the f8 conference across multiple new platform refinements— but they also launched a new mobile ad network called FAN—which uses the most robust data available (all the data we as users, provide to FB) for mobile ad targeting. Not contradictory at all? ;)


This all happened within 24 hours.


who's on firstWe learn one thing and before you know it, technology iterates more rapidly that we can keep up with. This has implications for marketers who drive engagement and content using certain technology platforms. Yet, a large majority of marketers still think of the above examples things as “social media” vs. marketing technologies. Some marketers remain in conflict with their “set” marketing plan vs. a flexible one that accommodates tech evolution per the above examples. These social examples only scratch the surface on “marketing technologies” as a larger theme inclusive of marketing automation, CRM and analytic platforms— there are 1000’s out there.

Who’s responsible for marketing technology?

Is that still the responsibility of the brand marketer? Do they have the required tech acumen? The digital strategist? (Do digital strategists still exist?) The CMO? Are they too high level for this granularity? Possibly- depending on the company. Do we need to create a new discipline within marketing that *just* handles assessing and implementing marketing technologies? Marketing technologist?

Personally I feel this is a hybrid combo of part marketing strategist, creative director, technologist.

Maybe we can coin #TechFlex a new aspirational skill for marketers? Can we add that to Linked in? Can I endorse someone for this?

ie: “My marketing acumen allows for adaptability to new technologies that engender customer engagement and ultimately drive revenue for my core business objectives. I understand technologies change at a rapid pace and am capable of developing a plan that remains open for assessment, iteration and testing and refinement”.

Polarizing, yet aspirational thinking about new marketing & organizational models as they relate to technology advancements and innovation. This is happening right now across multiple verticals. Something I’m going to spend a little more time researching. If anyone has existing research on this topic- please feel free to share- tweet me at @jaeselle.

UPDATE: July 18, 2014
Harvard Business Review just penned a great deep dive into “The Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist”.  Also validates my curiosity & thought process a LOT– I had mixed reviews from my first post above ie: “you’re just trying to create new roles, people in existing marketing roles need to learn new skills (however, sometimes that isn’t the most efficient or effective path forward.)

HBR’s post is a long and worthy read, full of rationale for what’s driving the need (customer behavior & tech innovation) how this role differs from, and integrates with the CMO, CIO and CEO to fill a need.



social media week 2014

social media week 2014

1. Register!

#SMWNY is only a few days away- have you secured your pass yet?
Register here for a Campus Pass with this 30% discount code good through This Friday February 14th! Lucky for you, this year’s sessions are all held in 1 area at the Highline Stages in Meatpacking (so much easier!)

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We’re always chasing the shiny bouncing ball.

bouncing balls trends

Many people confuse tactics and trends. Case in point: Snapchat is not a trend. It’s a social platform, a social tactic. (some of which are poorly thought out—in my opinion) Bloomberg. ON snapchat? When the demo are teenagers/young adults who use the app to….well you know what…. and share private stories they otherwise wouldn’t. Following where I’m going?

Sidenote: But Snapchat introduced “disappearing media” (that is the real trend) which is getting tons of buzz, just not sure that’s where marketers want to play. Snapchat goes against everything social is meant to be. Viral. Sharable. Enduring. Kinda sounds like the QR Code to me. Great in theory—but um, well. Well you know what happened there.

Snap! I got off topic, lets talk about marketing trends!

2014: The Year Marketing Trends Matured

I’ve been sensing people looking, searching for trends things to write about—mostly because there aren’t really “new” trends being uncovered… the trends that we saw last year are being slightly reimagined and are maturing this year—and that’s a good thing. Allows us to process, learn and make informed decisions.

In this post I’m covering 4 marketing topics:

  • Tech
  • Healthtech (b/c it deserves a separate topic)
  • Social
  • Analytics

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This will happen.

5 years ago no one knew how to harness it all. Traditional companies that have been in existence forever needed chief expert guru ninjas to help them make sense of emerging opportunities and migrate beyond broadcast and mass reach…. to create a vision, pave a road to scale their strategic approach, executional capabilities, build new departments and hire the right people.

The day we all just all go back to being marketers is coming very soon. Smart marketers are finally demonstrating that the future of our industry is not about digital or social marketing. It’s about marketing in a digital world– we’re in it, we live it, we know it.

It’s not optional anymore. It’s not a speciality. It’s just marketing…6 best practices found below. || Read more »

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