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my client doesn’t get social media August 27, 2010

Posted by nicholas gill in social media.

Whoa! What do you mean they don’t “get it”? They must be mad! Are they insane? Are they still living in the 1990s? They don’t even have an iPhone?

Not everyone travels at the same pace.

Here’s a reality check from conversations and observations with clients who are “not getting it”.

Observation #1

We work in advertising (I use the term as a broad church that includes all our disciplines) and as such we do get it (well, not all – more on that at a later date perhaps). We get it because we have to be in it to win it. Because we are in a service industry where we need to be pro-active and better than the other guy. We have to experiment and get on board ahead of the curve. Because when we talk to our clients, we need to be knowledgeable and helpful so we can advise and guide them appropriately in our trusted advisor positions. That’s why clients pay us.

Clients are busy people. They don’t always get free reign on the interweb like us agency folk and have many more corporate restrictions from an IT or legal perspective. Yes, some clients are still on IE6 (shudder!) so cannot experience web browser excitement like what we can. Yes, some clients are not allowed on Facebook so they’re not as intimate with the joys of Farmville et al. Yes, some clients don’t have iPhones because it’s an expensive bit of kit so may not be as familiar with apps that make lightsaber sounds. Yes, some clients aren’t allowed access to You Tube so can’t watch videos about cats all day. So we can’t assume they know WTF SXSW is, how hashtags work or even that Old Spice guy has hit their radar.

Implication: understand their situation and be a guiding light. They may not be as far down the line as you want or assume.

Observation #2

A lot of clients are versed in advertising, direct and digital (websites, online advertising, search). That’s their sphere of reference. That’s their job description. That’s their 9-5 (and way beyond). They are assessed and rewarded on old-fashioned things such as how their communications contribute to market share, sales, margin, propensity to purchase, ROI, loyalty. There is probably not a budget line for social media so something else has to be sacrificed to trial it. Something else that has an accountable budget that drives or protects market share, sales etc. All of this has to be approved further up the tree; and those people typically have less time or inclination to know about this stuff – back to Observation #1. Until we actually start talking in terms that prick their ears up and make a demonstrable impact on their business performance, terms such as “frands” (jeez, I think I may puke) will go straight to the round file and the poor buggers will be labeled as “another client who doesn’t get it.”

Implication: ground ideas in numbers rather than buzzwords to make social salient.

Observation #3

So what? I know my advertising drives consideration and sales, my DM and email drives targeted response, my search drives me insane as well as lots of conversion, my site helps people and drives to purchase. What does four gazillion tweets and twelvety blog hat tips mean? The so what factor should never be ignored. If I did nothing, would anything ever change? Do I really need a Twitbook?

Implication: deliver insight and implication, not facts and certainly not a shiny twitbook account before due planning and consideration.

Above all, be open, authentic and transparent. Much like we suggest how brands behave in the social space.

Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn |nicholas.r.gill@gmail.com



1. Darthngo - August 27, 2010

Wisdom sir, that’s what we call that. That and stating the blindly obvious which is more often than not, completely overlooked or ignored.

2. Adey - September 1, 2010

you rule

3. didntseethat - September 2, 2010

haha great blog

4. missbflysj - September 8, 2010

Great article, its relevant for markets in countries which are a little bit behind! (Australia)

5. Laura Bazile - September 8, 2010

Great post, Nicholas! Love it and I would add “understand” people who think that their business will change … within 2 days! No need to add that they will need to jump on the boat AND understand.

6. nicholas gill - September 9, 2010

Thanks to all for your comments, it seems to have struck a chord.

7. nzima - September 20, 2010

True story…. great post

8. isaac p - September 30, 2010

great post nick g! a greater challenge than an SM strategy is being able to justify it in simple terms with real business benefits. especially when you can spend so much time producing absolutely nothing if you’re not held to account!

9. thesociablegirl - March 7, 2012

“Social media is like a snowball rolling down the hill. It’s picking up speed. Five years from now, it’s going to be the standard.”Jeff Antaya, chief marketing officer of Plante Moran
Love your blog

nicholas gill - March 21, 2012

Nice quote. Tanks for stopping by. Hope you’re enjoying Rome.

thesociablegirl - March 22, 2012

Thank you Nicholas. Rome is amazing 🙂

10. Margaret - June 1, 2012

Well I am a client who has spoken to social media companies for marketing and strategy. So a few more things from the other side of the fence from an “I don’t get it” person. Many companies throw all the latest apps around. I am running a Business not a high-speed rush to 15 seconds of fame based on instagramming my underwear . I provide very rich content, high quality text, images, video etc. yet the constant refrain is: to attract a wider audience 101 = instagram, mega- sized visuals ( who cares about words!!!), @ing, linking, broadcasting using my clients names (many of whom are famous), sending personal messages on public wavelength to twitter and Facebook – to show how “in” and “cool” and “happening” I am.

I guess my problem is that I would like to attract a wider audience based on MY reputation and expertise (I have a rock solid background and a high profile in my industry) NOT be “famous by association” by putting together an enormous card tower of “trendy tidbits”, built by showcasing my personal life, harassing clients and “friends” to “like” me, “want” me, “love me”, “listen to me”.

Yes “I don’t get it – but it seems neither do many of them”

Any recommendations?

nicholas gill - June 6, 2012

Hi Margaret. Thanks for your comment. I agree. The answer is quite often “insert hot social media platform of the hour here”. Which is never really the answer. And it makes me throw up a little in my mouth whenever I’m in a meeting and platforms are thrown around to solve a problem that hasn’t been defined yet. As I mentioned in the post, as an agency our role is to be the vanguard of this activity and have an informed opinion. But it shouldn’t be the short-cut to the solution. The approach should always be objective, strategy and tactics. And if “insert hot social media platform of the hour here” is part of the solution then great. And by way of blowing my own horn, so to speak, here’s a couple of decks that may help as they relate to your comment. Hopefully.



Thanks again.

nicholas gill - June 6, 2012

But then again… instagramming underwear is usually a win-win for everyone.

11. Margaret - June 6, 2012

Hum! well as long as the color and cut of my briefs are trending seems I don’t need to invest in social media after all, I just need to buy enough underwear to keep the fans coming back for more!

Thanks for the links.

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