Five Implications for The Social Media Agency – Inspired From Youtube Pitch

1. Interactive Agency business models are subverted by social media

Generally Interactive Agency bread and butter is in “big bang” marketing and implementation, expensive expensive web sites, experience “orgy” microsites, big spend banner campaigns and intersticials, basically mass marketing on the web. The more expensive it is to implement the more money the agency makes. Succeeding in Social Media turns that model on its head as implementation tools are generally very cheap in comparison with traditional interactive projects, it’s the ideas that are valuable. This can be likened to the advertising agency problem of if your revenue is tied to advertising spend then how can you move into advertising that costs a 100 or a 1,000 times less? didn’t create this video because it’s business is doing well, it did it because it sees the writing on the wall, look at their hiring page, a dozen open positions in a global company?


Lets say the Ford Bold Moves site, and The Coke Show are examples of “big agency” social media, and the office promo competition on youtube was the very cheap “social media” way to do it. What’s the result? The Coke Show, which is actually the homepage has 10 entries (it launched with 14 at the beginning of july), the office promo has 400.

2. Failure is not just acceptable, it should be encouraged

Cultural fear of failure in agencies will stifle creativity, and needs to be encouraged, honored and recognized. In fact this doesn’t just go for agencies, all companies need to realize that interacting, engaging and creating in social media involves experimentation and failure needs to be recognized as part of the growth. Many see the video as a total failure, but if get to learn more about social media from that then surely they are the winner over the long term.

3. In Social Media Everyone is a Critic

Put your flame proof trousers on folks because you are not in Kansas anymore. Social Media is full of real people, with real opinions, and real swear words. Be prepared, and make sure any of your sensitive artists understand this :-)

“So what if people are talking about this? You can drop your pants at a party and shit in the punch bowl and people will talk. (Which is basically what you did.) This isn’t funny, original, creative, insightful, or entertaining. You guys should keep those Subway jobs because you have no future in advertising. You hacks are the reason 95% of ads suck.”
boring as hell. subway will probably love it.
I had no idea facial hair was such an important part of the advertising industry.”
Let’s agree that it’s not a positive if 20,000 people watch something and 18,000 of them decide you’re a bunch of total wankers

4. Experimenting Meaningless Without Measurement

Social Media tools are great for tracking what happens, technorati, log files, delicous, blogpulse

(notice got a bigger bump than :-)

It is also important to note that measurement in Social Media should take into account the 1% rule, or the idea that only 1% to 10% of a population will actively create, comment and amplify, so just measuring “views” misses the real value creators in social media, the mavens and the connecters as Malcolm Gladwell would say.

5. Viral Stewardship – Virals Are Unpredictable So Pay Attention

If something takes off in Social Media be prepared to participate, or at least steward the conversation. Agency did a great job of actively tracking the conversation, and responding quickly to the direction it was taking. Viral, and social media marketing are incredibly dynamic, and in many ways you have no control over the direction its going to go so pay attention.

As it turned out the community totally lampooned the “fist bump” and the phrase “when we roll we roll big”, and 3 days into the arc of this campaign registered “

Administrative Contact , Technical Contact :
488 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Phone: 212 358 2600

Record expires on 02-Aug-2008
Record created on 02-Aug-2006

And even created a logo:

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  1. Posted August 4, 2006 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Regarding Coudal and web traffic…

    Coudal’s got a lot more going on on their site, and they’ve provided it in a less flash-tastic way. I’m sure this results in WAY more returning visitors.

  2. karl long
    Posted August 4, 2006 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Couldn’t agree more Clay, in fact I consider Coudal one of the “blog elite”. They are one of only eight members of an exclusive ad network called “the deck” that only accepts advertisements from companies that members of The Deck have used and enjoyed (primarily targetted at web and web creative folks).

    In fact it kind of implies that having some foothold in the blogosphere already can help amplify viral campaigns. It’s like if you already have a blog and a readership attempts at spreading ideas virally will get a jump start.

    Hmm, Implications for “the social media agency” right a freaking blog like Organic does :-)



  3. Posted August 5, 2006 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    OK Karl,

    This was a great summary. I’m going to provide a personal opinion on this whole thing in regards to a bigger issue which is the role of the agency in light of all things “2.0” for the lack of a better phrase.

    Let’s start with the video. As I’ve said a few hundred times. High marks for idea—for the willingness to take a risk and try something new. Really, I give them serious props. But I also give them un-props for the video itself because they made a mockery of what an interactive agency can potentially offer.

    So what can an interactive agency offer? Here is my theory. And again, this is personal opinion. Agencies and marketing firms need to become more like the innovative companies that provide amazing products and experiences. And we need to treat our own products (marketing efforts, sites, touch points, campaigns, etc) as just that—products. These products need to provide simply positive amazing experiences to anyone who encounters them.

    Take any agency who is in a “lull”—like Motorola was a couple of years ago. That agency should overhaul their creative dept like Moto did with theirs and simply produce killer “product” just like Moto did with the breakthrough RAZR. One product that provided a desirable experience has transformed Moto. Take a look at their stock performance over the last 5 years:

    The stock started performing again almost in sync with the release of the Razr. Agencies, especially the ones that are more nimble, need to take a lesson from Trader Joe’s which turns the supermarket experience on it’s head. Small, intimate, easy to navigate, friendly, quality. From the easy atmosphere to the wonderfully architected checkout experience—Trader Joe’s is a delightful shopping alternative.

    Agencies need to provide delightful marketing alternatives that work across an entire landscape which is changing almost daily.

    So back to the video. Maybe this was an attempt to do something that had nothing to do with Subway. But if I’m Subway, then I’m looking at the competition around me. According to mister poll, Quizno’s has Subway beat in perception of being “better”

    Quizno’s (62%)
    Subway (38%)
    (source: mister poll)

    So if I am Subway, then my question is “How can the Social Media Network persuade those Quizno’s people to give Subway another try?”

    Now assuming that the video had absolutely nothing to do with Subway, then as a marketing professional working on the creative side, I can only judge the effort based on idea and execution. Good idea. Bad execution. And being polished has nothing to do with it as the video needed to be more raw, more believable and more likable. The mentos viral video delighted me, it made me want to e-mail it for all the right reasons. The video didn’t.

    That’s how I’ll end this. The role of any agency should be to provide delight. Not controversy. Trader Joe’s delights me. I enjoy WiFi at Panera. I suffer from product lust every time I see a RAZR (or Mini). I enjoy the friendly service on Southwest. Make no mistake about it. Agencies actually have a product. We “produce” things. We MAKE things. AT the end of the day, both product and service are what agencnies provide.

    Advermarketing needs to produce “marketing experiences” that people crave—just like any other company who wants their brand to be coveted. That’s where this all is going in my opinion. These marketing experiences can be polished. They can be raw. They can be user generated. They just have to be good. They have to get people talking for the right reasons. Whenever I get a chance, I tell people about how great Trader Joe’s is because the provide me with an exceptional experience. Advermarketing needs to provide great experiences that people will want to discuss, share, and take action on.

    Sorry for the long winded comment, but your post had a lot of thought put into it, so I wanted to return the favor.

  4. Posted August 14, 2006 at 8:07 am | Permalink


    Great post, great insight.

    On #2 Failure:
    I think it’s important to distinguish from two different types of WoM/Viral failures: 1) a complete dud that fails to get anyone’s attention; and 2) something that takes off, but with controversy and negative coverage.

    The fact that some viral/wom campaigns will be a dud is something that all clients should be informed about and should mitigate that with committing to 2-3 viral campaigns, expecting the others may not succeed. Especially as word-of-mouth and viral becomes a standard “tool” in the marketing toolbox, we should expect more duds in a crowding market for consumers’ attention (like TVs, online banners etc).

    But the 2nd type of failure – negative controversy – is something I think most agencies and clients will still try to avoid. I agree with “if get to learn more about social media from that then surely they are the winner over the long term”, but imagine if a major brand like or McDonald’s does a WoM that completely backfires and hurts their brand? Not sure if many companies are will to take the risk.

    In’s case, they at most hurt their own brand, not Subway’s so much.

6 Trackbacks

  • By The 9@9 #2 » 9rules Featured on August 4, 2006 at 7:48 pm

    [...] Experience Curve: Five implications for the social media agency [...]

  • By 9@9 #2 » 9rules Network Official Blog on August 11, 2006 at 6:43 pm

    [...] Experience Curve: Five implications for the social media agency [...]

  • By Futurelab's Blog on August 12, 2006 at 5:14 am

    3 Rules For Managing Viral Marketing – What Every CMO Needs To Know…

    by: Karl Long If you are responsible for the creative output of a marketing department or an agency, then this post is for you. What I aim to outline is some of the key differences between viral marketing and traditional……

  • [...] Hugh Macleod posts here about the “3 rules for viral marketing” as originally written about here by Karl Long. There are some great points made in Hugh’s post, but the real story is the lively conversation happening in the comments. Tara Hunt (of Pinko Marketing and HorsePigCow fame) had an allergic reaction to the word “viral” and went on the offensive. Something like “Anyone who even uses the word ‘viral’ should be dragged out onto the streets and shot brutally…” The ensuing conversation digs deep into what viral marketing is, how hard it is to create, and how large companies wanting to do something “viral” almost never get it. In the end, I think most of the commenters are on the same side, with just a few being more extreme than the others. Oh, and as a reaction to her reaction, Tara explains why she is so extreme. This is all just really good stuff, and proof positive of the value of creating a conversation and the power of the blogosphere. [...]

  • [...] “Five Implications for The Social Media Agency – Inspired From Youtube Pitch” (Link Updated) Five very interesting takes – or lessons-learned – from the Subway pitch, worth a read. [...]

  • [...] From that tagline, his experience running an Internet marketing company called Local Zing, his great blog posts, and his sweet podcast, I knew that doing a podcast with him was going to be great and I was not disappointed. [...]

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