When you live and breathe social media both out of personal passion and because it’s part of your day job, it’s very easy to become far too casual about “liking” and sharing. After all, it might no just be your friends who are paying attention.
Last week in AdAge’s Small Agency Diary, Greg Straface of PJA Advertising penned a few words of warning on the topic that I thought were worth expanding on:
Social media has been invaluable for zeroing in on client prospects. But be careful. The same social activity that gets you in the door or gives you pitch-worthy insights could be giving inside information to your competitors.
From personal experience, you’d be amazed at how often this sort of thing happens. It’s a small industry, and after you run a few new business pitches you quickly get a feel for who your primary competitors are. Spend any amount of time on Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, or Facebook and you’ll see many of them openly checking-in at the same company you just walked out of an RFP pitch with, or tweeting about how they just landed at the nearby airport in time for “a big meeting.”
Greg mentions some of the most common practices: connecting with your prospective clients via LinkedIn before the pitch is done, checking in at the client site, and so on.
By far though, the most insiduous inadvertent competitive research tool is the Facebook Like button. When you’re pitching digital or social to clients, of course you’re going to check out their Facebook presence and those of key competitors or peers, and more often than not the good content or porgramming is parked behind a fan-gate. It’s all too easy to get in the lazy habit of hitting those like buttons continually, without considering just how ridiculously well that activity can telegraph who and what you’re checking out in a business context.
Being too liberal with Likes in the name of research also has the often amusing byproduct of truly messing up your social profile in ways that render your data useless for ad targeters, and occasionally prompts some strange reactions from your friends (“Umm, why did you just like a lingerie brand, kids TV show, cruise line, and imported beer in a 5 minute stretch? What do you DO all day where you work?”).
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t Spy vs. Spy stuff, and even if you know another specific agency is part of an RFP there’s only so much you can (typically) do with that knowledge. But it is a ruthless business, so pay a bit more attention to your use of all those Like buttons, LinkedIn connections, geo-tagged tweets, and Places checkins – after all, your competitors likely are.
Relax. It’s OK to wait. Seriously.
Social media return-on-investment (ROI) is one of the most hotly – and frequently – debated topics in the industry. Dressed up however you like, the question still boils down to “Does it work? How can you tell?” In a multi-part post series called “Social Media Revisited” on the Ignite Social Media blog I’m exploring four different models in smROI and how they might be applied.
Every Twitter user has heard it, or experienced it ourselves, the complaint that Twitter has become too noisy, too spamming, too much about just pushing links and not enough about actual people expressing actual thoughts. The problem however isn’t Twitter’s, and Twitter shouldn’t have to become like Google+ to “fix” it.