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The case for using social media

March 26, 2008

“I always use my clients’ products. This is not toady-ism, but elementary good manners.”
David Ogilvy, Confessions of an Advertising Man, 1971, New York: Ballantine Books, p. 53.It’s good manners to use your clients products. But what about the technology that your client’s customers are using? is that good manners or elementary business?

Flashback. It’s the year 2000. You’re in a client briefing about a campaign to generate awareness for online purchasing of their product. The client turns to you: “Do you make online purchases?” Because of the logic of the above Ogilvy quote, chances are you tried it before the meeting. Plus, answering, “No, I don’t trust the technology.”, would have made for some serious discomfort.


It’s present day. You’re sitting with the client talking about planning for the year (or a new awareness campaign), when one of them asks one of the following questions.

1. Do you read blogs?” Which ones?
2. Have you written a personal/business blog? What’s it about?
3. Do you participate in at least one social network? Which one?
4. Have you ever uploaded a video online? What did you use to do it?
5. What’s your favorite search engine? Why?
6. Have you ever used an online classified service like craigslist?
7. Besides making phone calls—how else do you use your mobile phone?
8. Have you ever registered a domain name? Was it for a landing page?
9. Do you use social bookmarks or tagging?
10. Do you use a feed reader of some sort? Which one? Why?
Can Agencies still answer “No, I don’t have time for that stuff?”

These questions are written like a test, and the client most likely won’t test us in this manner. But they might use words that approximate these questions. Because if they’re reading about it, doing it, they might be wondering if it’s right for their brand. Fact is, these emerging media are becoming ways in which people interact with the brands we manage. And they might turn to us because they honestly don’t know where to turn.

And then where do we turn. Who at the agency knows about social bookmarking? It’s not even a word!

Time is a certainly a limiting factor to answering them all, but knowing something about them all will be critical. And the best, and only way to do that is to jump in with both feet. Start a Twitter account. Upload something to YouTube. Submit something to Digg. Start a blog like this one (who cares if no one reads it?)

The day is coming. As the agency for a brand, we’ll be expected to talk intelligently about all of these because we’ve tried them all? Is that day here now?

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