Education on social media changes starts in-house

Tech practitioners have the nearly impossible task of keeping up with the constant permutations in social media and advising clients on which strategies will best meet their objectives. In order to provide successful counsel, some firms are finding that turning the spotlight inward is a good way to enhance expertise.

Tech practitioners have the nearly impossible task of keeping up with the constant permutations in social media and advising clients on which strategies will best meet their objectives. In order to provide successful counsel, some firms are finding that turning the spotlight inward is a good way to enhance expertise.

PepperDigital, Peppercom's digital communications practice, recently introduced its own digital test, a questionnaire that will help clients measure Web 2.0 gaps within their organizations, such as online presence and allotting appropriate funds to reach goals.

Peppercom tested its own firm and pinpointed about 20 improvements to make in the next year, including greater use of online video on its site.

“You need to eat your own cooking,” says Sam Ford, director of consumer insights with Peppercom. “It allowed us to tweak the test to make sure it was optimized.”

By creating a more savvy organization, Ed Moed, managing partner at Peppercom, hopes to better incorporate digital into all of the agency's work.

“All of our people need to understand digital,” he explains. “It's about making sure that Pepper-com is transformed into a full digital agency.”

“PepperDigital is a group, but we want, over time, for digital to infuse all aspects of our work,” adds Ford.

B-to-b technology companies that turn to Massachusetts-based Lois Paul & Partners are often “late on the curve when thinking of social media,” notes Ted Weismann, SVP and social media practice leader for the firm. Last year, the agency embedded personnel into various technologies, which provided the firm with personal experience to use in its work.

“[We created] our own blog and our own Facebook page, and it's something we've done to leverage multimedia content,” he says. “It's done a lot in terms of really understanding how these tools can be used. These are examples to give to clients.”

Curtis Houghland, founder of Attention, a firm that specializes in social media marketing, has built his business on using the Web as a word-of-mouth tool where data collection and measurement are key parts of the communications process.

Each assignment the firm works on begins with a social media report card that benchmarks a company's performance in social media, he adds. It measures things like sentiment and engagement- and action-based metrics.

“We have 21 people [on staff], and we have to train everyone,” says Houghland. “We don't find many people off the street that are able to bridge the math with the communications side. You have to learn math, data analytics, and production to succeed in 2009.”

As clients continue to demand technology know-how, keeping the organization on the cutting edge is key.

“In the long-run, it means the organization as a whole becomes more savvy,” says Ford.

Key points:
  • As digital tools and strategies increasingly become parts of campaigns, staying ahead is more difficult
  • In order to better advise clients about the use of technology and social media, many firms are turning their attention inward
  • Trying new digital service offerings internally can improve a firm's tech know-how and savvy, and optimize its offerings

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