One of the biggest challenges brand-side marketers face in dealing with social media is incorporating the necessary time to monitor and respond to conversation online. Marketers are busy people. Most only spend about 10-20 percent of their time dealing with advertising or their agency partners. One of the biggest challenges for advertising and public relations agencies in relation to social media is getting brand-side trust to enable the agency to read and react to the social web without layers of approvals.

There’s at least one agency out there that seems to have developed a solution that helps mitigate both problems with an interesting tool and approach.

A Zeitgeits & Coffee Dashboard view featuring Facebook and Twitter posts for internal and client review. (Click for larger image.)

A Zeitgeits & Coffee Dashboard view featuring Facebook and Twitter posts for internal and client review. (Click for larger image.)

Media Logic, an “integrated communications firm,” (read: Ad agency) with offices in Albany, N.Y., and Oakland, Calif., has recently repositioned themselves as a “conversation-centric” marketing company with social media as the central focus of their offering. But it’s not that they’re using Facebook apps and “viral” videos to drive new business. They’ve actually put some smarts behind a technology platform and marketing approach that focuses on listening and engaging people on the social web.

The gist of their pitch is this:

  • The primary driver of their offering is a technology platform called Zeitgeist and Coffee. It’s essentially a social media monitoring dashboard that the agency manages for the client. Each client is assigned a “conversation manager” who reviews the inbound stream, prioritizes mentions and conversations for addressing or follow up, and perhaps even offers suggested responses. The client can log in to the platform to review the latest posts, approve or amend suggested responses or even respond directly to the conversations.
  • They claim their approach, a “suite of products,” defines opportunities and initiatives for the client; identifies goals and objectives; their technology then sweeps the landscape to gauge the conversations; establishes a platform, content, voice and volume for a marketing effort; defines roles and responsibilities for the effort and ultimately allows their clients to join the conversation.
  • Media Logic’s angle is this is a social media-driven solution for marketers. They recognize companies and brands have internal struggles as to who controls social media. This puts the marketing team in the driver’s seat for consumer engagement.

The key takeaway from learning about Media Logic for me was to show you how one agency is building an offering around social media by taking a brand manager’s stress relative to social media away. They’ve built an easy to use tool to monitor, prioritize and curate conversations so the brand can feel as if they have a grasp on what’s out there.

At first glance, Zeitgeist & Coffee appears to be an agency doing a good job of monitoring and holding their client’s hand with listening and cursory engaging in social media. But that’s one small part of doing social media well. Media Logic does offer a suite of “products” that at least seems to account for the other parts of social media — producing ideas that proactively engage consumers — but they certainly deserve some credit for attacking the sore spot for most brands with the Zeitgeist & Coffee product.

In case you were wondering, Media Logic doesn’t offer the Zeitgeist & Coffee product as a stand alone service. You pretty much have to bring them on board as your AOR for social media work to get access to it. They preach their process is more important than one or more of their products. Despite their generous use of the word “proprietary” (pet peeve of mine for some reason) Zeitgeist & Coffee while inventive and cool, especially coming from an agency, can be closely replicated with a paid monitoring solution and some smart thinking.

Still, don’t miss the important point of Media Logic’s approach: Your agency’s clients will be more comfortable with social media, and more willing to spend money with you for it, if you hold their hand a bit and make it easy for them to understand and engage. Kudos to Media Logic for showing some of us the way.

Media Logic isn’t the first to do it. They may not even be the best out there. What is your agency doing to embrace and help teach your clients to embrace social media. Please share your ideas in the comment section so we can all learn a new trick or two.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • ChrisLombardo

    Our throw ours into the conversation. My agency developed a photosharing/e-greetings platform for companies, one that mixes personal photos and messages with mild branding. It's actually an offshoot from a startup we've been nurturing for a few years. You can see an example at http://robbinsbrothers.greetingflix.com. I'd love to hear any feedback.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Cool Chris. Thanks for the point. Very interesting initiative.

  • johnbottom

    Jason – very interesting to hear about Zeitgeist and Coffee. I can see that it addresses one of the main pain points, which is how a brand-side manager can at least feel that they are in control of social media conversation traffic without yielding control and and without spending hours of everyday on social media sites.

    But there is a large area of social media opportunity that this doesn't address, which is of course content marketing. It is one thing responding to comments from social media networks about a product. It is easy for an agency to field non-expert enquiries, or just refer them to the client. But I feel that a complete agency offering needs to combine this kind of monitoring/responding service with a content marketing offering that puts out content that will position the brand more favourably to social-media-based customers.

    An agency (read ad agency) should be expert in identifying messages and audiences, and crafting those messages to the appropriate medium. So the agency should be able to draw on raw expertise within the client company and repurpose it across social media as blogs, articles, etc. Basically, they should be able minimise the time it takes that company to be active in social media circles, helping them to actively create a presence, rather than just responding to customer comments.

    Do you see this as a natural offering from agencies? Do you know of agencies that successfully do it?

    • ronaldladouceur

      johnbottom makes an important point.

      Zeitgeist and Coffee helps clients, through social media interaction, tap into the full marketing potential resident within their organization, and integrate that potential with the professional services offered by an advertising agency. Z&C also helps clients listen in and collaborate on the development of strategies and creative solutions. However, brand, positioning, themes, promotional messages, product information, conversion triggers, etc. will never be simply emergent qualities of the conversation.

      Content will still need to be created and pushed.

      Campaigns, based on solid branding, created and developed by “conversation aware” agencies, and implemented through social and traditional media channels, will always remain critical to the task of exciting prospects about products and then connecting those prospects to social communities where they can self-qualify, self-nurture, sample and purchase.

      Plenty of work here to keep agencies busy.

  • involve_social

    Vitrue.com is a tool I heard about. I'm not sure which agencies are using this but they seem to have a nice client base.

    They:
    a. provide a social management technology platform
    b. Define strategic approaches for social marketing
    c. Create and design brand profiles and apps
    d. integrate experiences across social destinations
    e. Offer strong moderation and reporting tools
    f. Provide creative and management services

    Essentially they offer a SRM (social relationship manager) with 3 features:
    a. Social Publisher – allows admins to use photos and shorten URLs automatically when posting on their fan page (I think) and get feedback on uploaded media. Also there is a twitter page tie-in where you can create a direct response marketing channel from Twitter with Twitter Pages.

    b. Social Planner – Collaborating with team on posts, imagery and messaging with auto publishing feature to FB and Twitter w/ post-publishing alerts and calendar.

    c. Social Insights – Real time measuring of results and activities such as Facebook comment moderation, ROI tracking by post and fan etc.

    Many of these are still in development. These guys charge a hefty price tag, I think something like 7k per month but seem to have some good clients.

    I definitely expect additional tools like these to emerge and those who can build the most authority can do well in this space. Comprehensive is key.. not disjointed experiences using several tools. The more the tools that can be centralized, the better it is.

    In a similar way, at my work we're creating offerings/resources for specific niches, like restaurants, real estate and personal branding and offering tools that people can use themselves. Since our model will be a subscription based model, we have to think of interesting ways to increase retention and I think providing solid content will help with that. Essentially I see the future as a membership site / premium content kinda approach where you not only get the tech but the knowledge as well.

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  • contentkeith

    I, too, concur with @johnbottom's comment: there is still a need for content marketing — creating all sorts of content that feed engagement between customer and brand. It simply can't be product-focused messaging, but content that informs, educates, entertains, and inspires. As long as the content is valuable to the customer's wants and needs and is genuine coming from the brand, content marketing is the fuel that feeds the conversational flames within the social media campfire.

    Traditional agencies can (and should) be equipped to create this type of content.

    Warning: shameless plug – the core offering of my consultancy, Nutlug Content Marketing, is enabling traditional agencies to utilize existing resources (read people and money) to build out content marketing teams, expertise, and solutions for clients. It's a strong, growing marcomm offering that can act not only as a new revenue stream, but also as a client retention tool.

    Yes, content marketing is different from traditional marketing, advertising, digital and promotional efforts — but it is ultimately about building brands. And that's what agencies (should) do.

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