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Social media impacts client relationships

August 28, 2009

A really smart Account person, who is also a close personal friend once explained the role of an account person to me:

It’s my job to make the client think I’m spending every waking hour thinking about their business.

Obviously there are other roles an account person plays. But this piece of wisdom always stayed with me. Clients want to think their agency partner is constantly thinking about the category, and the business. The client wants to know that the agency partner, and especially the AE is plotting to make the communications better, and perhaps even make the business better. If they don’t feel like they are getting this service, there is real danger of a review.

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The reality is, account people don’t spend all day thinking about their client’s business. Most have a couple of clients, so it makes the task even harder.

Daily e-mails, daily phone phone calls, daily interaction ensured that the facade was maintained. But these contacts were agency initiated.

Then, along came the status update.

The status update is meant to let everyone know what you’re up to. One can currently do status updates on Twitter (What are you doing?), LinkedIn (What are you working on?), Facebook (simply status), Yahoo Mail, Google Mail, Friendfeed, Tumblr, and Skype (Mood messages).

And therein lies the rub. If my friend (or any account person) uses Twitter, it could impact the facade. An innocuous status update on any of the aforementioned social networks like: “Just finished a great new campaign for client X” would undermine the facade for clients who aren’t X.

This is obvious. But less obvious Tweets could undermine it just as easily.

Status updates have hit massive levels. And while they do work well to create ambient awareness, they have a potential business dark side. Especially for companies that have service relationships with clients. This is so fundamentally new, that no one can even predict how it will impact on business.

As social media is used to get new business, one should seriously take a look at how it’s being used to impact existing business as well.

They can have a positive impact. But there’s a potential flip side.

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