Social media, while in its prime, is no different than many other industries. There are good guys, there are bad guys, and there are those who try to take advantage of the hype in order to advance their careers. While much has already been written about the ill-reputed ’social media snake oil salesperson’ and the term ‘consultant’ is now synonymous with ‘pariah’, there’s little guidance to suggest how companies and individuals can tell the best of the best from the worst of the rest.
One of the biggest hurdles in the social media industry is the issue of determining who is truly behind some of the creative processes that are fueling so many digital campaigns. Is it the company? Is it the agency? If it’s an agency, which one, as many big companies have multiple marketing agencies?
One good example of potential “credit confusion” might be when the Old Spice ads featuring Isaiah Mustafa took over the socialsphere. Many people wondered about the origin of the creative genius. Was it parent company Procter & Gamble? Was it an agency? Was there an outside consultant? It wasn’t until Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb published a stellar behind-the-scenes piece about agency Wieden + Kennedy’s brainchild that the source of the creativity came to the forefront.
Alas, not all digital campaigns — while creative in their own rights — garner such widespread media attention. This leads to challenges later on for companies who are trying to determine agency talent as well as talent they want to hire. In terms of agencies, a lot of times where are multiple hands in a creative pot. When it comes to individuals, it’s hard for an outsider to always truly discern credibility of an individual claiming experience in a certain creative project. And especially with individual consultants, especially those with a strong personal brand, it’s hard to know whether or not that talent for branding extends beyond themselves and into benefits for companies.
So, what should companies who are looking to hire agencies, consultants or individuals do?