Co-opetition in the World of Social Media Marketing

Changing markets cause change for those who serve them. As businesses adapt and figure out how social media will impact how they conduct day to day functions, service providers are adapting too.  These days companies have a high probability of encountering any of the following providing social media services:

  • Sole prioprietor (independent contractor)
  • Social media agency (small, medium and increasingly larger)
  • PR agency (traditional, new media, all sizes)
  • Digital or interactive agency (all sizes)
  • Advertising agency (all sizes, but particularly the big dogs)
  • CRM consulting firm
  • Database marketing agency

In an effort to help bring some clarity to the situation, friends (and business partners, and competitors) Todd Defren of SHIFT and Aaron Strout of Powered have collaborated with me to give you a snippet of what makes us different.  We have some overlap and we also have some ways we can complement each other.  We are doing business together and competing.  Either way, hopefully this lets potential clients know more about what makes us different.  How’d we do?  I’d encourage your to read Todd’s post and Aaron’s post to get their commmentary as well.

Todd Defren

This is my company…

One of the top-25 PR agencies in the U.S., with offices in NYC, San Francisco and Boston, SHIFT is an agency that helps organizations of all sizes better communicate with the people that matter to their business.  Sometimes that’s “the media,” sometimes that’s “some loudmouth on Twitter.”  Companies ranging from Quiznos to Club Med, from tiny start-ups to established tech companies, look to SHIFT for counsel and execution on both branded and earned media.

What we do…

SHIFT focuses on “on-going engagement” vs. “campaigns.”  And because relationships change over time, our targets and tactics evolve as-needed.  Thus the portfolio of services a client will tap into can include: Traditional Media Relations (coverage in NYTimes, TODAY Show, eWeek, etc.) + Social Media Relations (dialogue with relevant Facebook Group admins, Twitterati, etc.) + Content and App Development + Community Management (running a YouTube channel or Facebook Fanpage).

This is why you should call me (type of challenge or project)…

We are generally called on by large brands that need to act more like a start-up or by small companies that want to take things to the next level.  If your company needs more overall visibility (“get ink!”); needs to better engage with consumers (“that Social Media stuff!”); or needs to brand or re-brand in the marketplace, it’s worth a conversation.

This is when you should call someone else…

While we bring plenty of creativity to the table, when it comes to execution portion of app development, videography, website development, advertising campaigns, media buying and SEO, SHIFT will turn to quality partners like Powered and Rosetta, among others.

Aaron Strout

This is my company…

Powered is a dedicated social media agency that helps brands fully capitalize on their social initiatives. With 75 employees in four offices (Austin, New York City, Portland and San Francisco) we brings “best-in-class” expertise across the social spectrum to our clients by offering a combination of strategy, planning, activation and management for social presence and programs.

What we do

Okay, I guess I answered this in the “this is my company” section but to add on, we help big brands with strategy and activation (getting their key stakeholders like customers, prospects, partners or employees) to do things that create value for their brand. Those activities might include evangelizing, contributing, participating or learning.

This is why you should call me (type of challenge or project)

We’re really at our best when we’re helping big brands (mainly B2C) connect their social efforts to their marketing efforts. We start by fleshing out a cohesive strategy and then move toward the activation. In many cases, this includes focusing on things like influencer outreach, ambassador programs, Facebook Fanpages, applications and customer tabs and the building and managing of branded online communities.

This is when you should call someone else.

We’re still not particularly good at media buying, custom web development (outside of Facebook and community building), SEM and general site SEO. We also don’t do any traditional PR. For those activities, I’d strongly recommend talking to our friends at Rosetta and SHIFT, both of whom we partner/work with.

Adam Cohen

This is my company…

Rosetta is the largest independent digital agency in the US. Using a patented approach to segmentation, called Personality® Segmentation (yep, it’s patented and a differentiator), which provides deep insights into the drivers of consumer behavior, Rosetta’s teams translate these insights into relevant marketing solutions to attract, retain and strengthen a brand’s most valuable customer relationships. With 720+ team members, Rosetta is headquartered in Princeton, NJ, with offices in NYC, Cleveland, Boston, Chicago, Denver and most recently Toronto.

What we do

We help companies develop strategies and implement marketing tactics, combining the best of insight + technology – from eCommerce to Paid Search to Creative to Analytics to Relationship Marketing. With all the tools in a marketer’s toolbox, we strive to be a CMO’s most trusted partner.  Our industry expertise includes Retail & Consumer Products; Healthcare; Financial Services; Communications, Media & Technology, and B2B.

This is why you should call me (type of challenge or project)

We’re best when we bring to together marketing disciplines and industry acumen to provide measurable integrated solutions.  We shine we get the opportunity to demonstrate business results across tactics – like integrating eCommerce with paid search/SEO, driving the best creative with analytics and measurement, or infusing CRM with Personality Segmentation.

This is when you should call someone else.

Traditional media outlets are outside of our sweet spot (TV, print, radio), along with traditional PR.  Our social media practice is focused on infusing social into all of our marketing disciplines, but we are partnering with world-class agencies like SHIFT on outreach programs and Powered on designing the best approaches to engage and activate communities.


Thanks again to Todd and Aaron for providing thought provoking insights for the topic – these are two guys for whom I have the utmost respect in working with (and occasionally against).  Todd says it best: “Where we compete, we do so with respect and good humor.  Where we can cooperate, we do so with gumption and gusto.”

Did this help provide clarity? Where do you think the market will be in five, ten years? We’re all a ways away from the winning formula and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Photo credit: eworm via flickr

Why Companies Should Leverage The Community Roundtable

Over the last couple of years I’ve been fortunate to get to know the founders of the Community Roundtable well. Jim Storer and Rachel Happe are two talented community practitioners with tons of experience. When Jim told me about his idea for TheCR (as it’s known in short), I was intrigued from day one. While there are many social media practitioners, blogs and community platform companies to leverage out there, TheCR provides at least two unique differentiators as part of its value proposition:

  • The Community Roundtable is a peer network of social media practioners and community managers. In essence, TheCR is using community to enhance and better people and businesses who are practicing community management every day. This isn’t social media or community 101, it’s 501. It’s a network for people who practice the discipline daily.
  • The Community Roundtable is pushing the envelope to advance the field. With their background in organizational design, TheCR team has built a framework of business processes to apply to various stages of community lifecycle. This isn’t (only) for selling community into an organization, it’s aimed at best practices at sustaining and growing them. TheCR is the answer to the question, “You have a community. Now what?”

As companies look at branded and non-branded, public and private, enterprise and customer-facing community platforms and decisions, TheCR provides a highly concentrated armament of resources and network of peers for support. Rosetta, my agency has been a partner from early on due to the complement to our own value proposition, and as Rachel describes it, I’m a self-professed “Cheesehead.”

So it’s not a surprise that Rosetta is pleased to be a sponsor, along with Fuzebox and Powered (another Rosetta partner), of The Community Roundtable’s first annual State of Community Management 2010 report. This 60+ page report, with an introduction from Altimeter Group‘s Jeremiah Owyang, is a tremendous resource that combines the voice of participating members representing “over 180+ years of community management experience” and what the group learned in 2009. It’s an asset to anyone exploring starting or improving their community initatives in 2010.

How Social Media Has Changed My Job

In the last 2 years of blogging I’ve been able to share my own views on social media, interactive marketing and other topics.  During that time my day job at Rosetta has evolved from working with exciting companies like Coach and Borders to leading our Search and Media practice.  I’ve had the fortunate experience of working with talented teams and innovative clients, with an agency leadership team who was willing to help me launch our social media practice over a year ago.

Helping clients leverage social media has been a passion but up until recently only a part-time gig; I’ve had many fun and challenging responsibilities to work on in parallel while trying to see if we can add social media to the value proposition Rosetta brings to the table.  In the meantime, this blog has served as a way to capture thoughts and more importantly to hear from you, continuing conversations that weren’t as suitable for Twitter or some other forum.

For my two-year blog anniversary post, I’m excited to share details about my expanded role.  As we’ve grown our social media team, I’m pleased to share that my role is now 100% focused on helping clients develop social media programs.  My goal is to build integrated programs that treat social media tactics as informed strategies, leveraging deeper understanding of a brand’s most valuable customers and prospects through Rosetta’s Personality®-based segmentation.

What this really means:

  • After 15 years in consulting (first 12 at Accenture), I’ve been able to craft a role for myself (with leadership team sponsorship) at a digital agency I’m excited about.
  • For a long time I’ve been advocating that social media marketing tactics should be treated alongside other digital initiatives in an integrated and strategic way, leveraging CRM, segmentation and consumer insight.  Now I get to truly focus full time on making that happen.
  • I’ve spent the last two+ years learning and applying what I’ve learned in social media, now I get to learn and apply on a full time basis.  (But I’m no expert, just trying to help clients make informed decisions).

Frankly I’m very grateful to see a more formal career path emerge from ideas.  I’m looking forward to sharing more here with a reinvigorated sense of purpose, and to thanking a lot of people in person over the next few weeks.  At risk of forgetting to call out a few, a hat tip to a few folks who continue to inspire me in this space:  Len Devanna, Ken Burbary, Marc Meyer, Aaron Strout, Jim Storer, Kyle Flaherty, Tim Walker, Amber Naslund, Beth Harte, and Rachel Happe.  And certainly Mark Taylor who has been my biggest advocate.  Now to deliver on the promise…

Photo credit: st3f4n via Flickr

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Donation Connect: Text Some Good

The devastation in Haiti has struck a chord in individuals and organizations around the globe. I’m going to shamelessly plug this app since it’s a great way for our agency to contribute to the cause.  What started off as a project to showcase Rosetta‘s mobile team skills turned into something better – a useful app which allows people to look up charities that accept donations via SMS and click to donate.  It’s a simple directory service with buttons to send a text message right from your iPhone. Donation Connect also allows you to promote your donation and the app through Facebook and Twitter. The app is free; if you like it please use it and tell a friend about it. Let me know what you think. This was created on volunteer time after hours from our mobile and creative teams.

Donation Connect (iTunes App Store)

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Spread the Joy: A Little Augmented Reality and a Rosetta Snow Day

snowdayWhat do augmented reality, snowdays and New Orleans have in common?  A Happy Holidays card and helping to spread some joy from Rosetta.

Every year agencies of all types like to show their stuff with digital holiday cards.  Looking to raise the bar from last year, the Rosetta team is trying something new.  Our team took their passion for technology, social media and working for a good cause to dream up something fun – and we hope people find it to be a “different taste” from the usual agency card.  Grab your webcam and see what I mean.

Happy Holidays from Rosetta

What’s more joyful than catching snowflakes on your tongue?  If we catch a million snowflakes, on February 20, 2010, we’ll be in New Orleans providing some joy to local children at City Park: a snow day.  Read more at the card site, and I look forward to sharing stories of the joy from that event in a couple months.  Have a happy and healthy holiday season.

Note: We’ll be watching usage and looking to fix or upgrade features – would love your input on what we could improve.

UPDATE: The WSJ covered our holiday card today (“Stop Licking Your Monitor,” 12/15/2009).  My favorite quote is about “on-tongue recognition technology” from Rosetta partner Toni Hess.

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Google Sidewiki and Implications for Pharma Brands

Download Rosetta's Sidewiki POVGoogle Sidewiki is a perplexing new product from our friends in Mountain View, CA.  Sidewiki requires a toolbar download but enables anyone to comment along side any website.  Here are three key posts that have been helpful to understand it – and I’d highly recommend reading them.

As people try to sort out what this all means, Rosetta’s Search & Media group teamed up with our Healthcare practice to create a quick point of view and some recommended actions.  You can download the PDF here:

Google Sidewiki and Implications for Pharma Brands: Rosetta’s POV

What would you do? This has applications outside of pharma – would this be helpful to your organization?  We hope to keep the document up to date with more information, but in an industry that is highly regulated it’s important to act quickly.

UPDATE: Rosetta’s Chris Boggs also published some thoughts today on Search Engine Watch, providing more discussion about the implications of Sidewiki for SEO.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I’m grateful to AdAge for publishing my first post there – Big Pharma and Google Sidewiki: A Sink or Swim Situation? – Please let me know what you think.  Thanks to Rosetta partner Jason Whitney and Search manager Ian Orekondy for helping with the content.

UPDATE: I’ve heard some feedback about issues downloading the PDF from – so I am attaching the document here for posterity.  Please reach out to me with any concerns.

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Gearing up: Marketing and Advertising Thought Leaders Summit

On Tuesday, May 12, the first annual Marketing and Advertising Thought Leaders Summit will be held in NYC.  I have the pleasure of joining Rosetta‘s CEO Chris Kuenne to attend what is looking to be a very compelling gathering of industry leaders.  From the MATLS website:

“This one-day summit will present a series of dialogue-driven forums on the changing trends in innovation, technology and consumer behavior and their impact on the marketing and advertising industries. Join us and our line-up of more than 25 industry leaders for a compelling day of insights, information and networking.”

Chris will be speaking on a panel moderated by Forrester‘s Interactive Marketing analyst Sean Corcoran on the topic: “Next Generation Digital Agency” along with C-level leadership from iCrossing, Initiative, Innovation Interactive, and Resource Interactive.

I’ll be there both on Twitter and posting here with thoughts and commentary – it looks to be a valuable gathering of CEOs, CMOs and private equity leadership.  The attendees have a heavy hand in shaping the future of our industry, it should be intriguing.

Will you be there? Please reach out, I’d love to connect.

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