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March 04, 2011


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Edwin Dearborn

No, you are not harsh. You are a realist and pragmatic in your expectacies. Results should be transparent and deomstarted through action, not hyperbolized copy.

Tim  Ludy

Spot on David! Walk the walk or don't talk. That's not being anti-social is it?

Janice L. Brown

Social media has become the hottest to-do for "checklist marketers": those who have their checklists of trendy tactics and are determined to use them regardless of whether they are on strategy. The number-one requirement for effective social media is good communications skills, which start with empathy for one's audience. Otherwise, social media is just about as "social" as old-time broadcasting. Caveat emptor to any business considering outsourcing its social media work. Conduct the research that David recommends.If social media consultants aren't practicing what they preach, they will be practicing on you and your business.

Tatyana Gann

David you know what I admire about you the most- your honesty!!! I love how you think and you say what you mean...with a sense of humor and shining light on the truth to be said! Also I see so many PR and social media so called experts jus...t blantly say they are in PR and publicity world and do nothing to communicate, engage, ask and contribute. That PR agency you mentioned must be working under ALIAS name!!! Lady Gaga is so private so they keep their identity under several locks hidden in the special underground community! Thanks again! sharing on FB.


I am really surprised they didn't even have a blog, twitter or facebook page. These three things are basics,to get yourself started on social presence these days. I would really love to see what Think Tank Digital have to say about your post. Spot on David another great article.

David Meerman Scott

Thanks for these great comments.

chandani - The company does have a Twitter account at @thinktankmktg. And yes, I'd like to know what they think of my post too. I hope they will comment and let us know if I am wrong about what I say.

Shelly Kramer

Bravo, David. Simply and perfectly said. And something we encounter on a daily basis.

Hats off to you for this sage advice. Don't talk the talk if you're not walking the walk. It's ridiculously easy for those of us who actually KNOW what we're doing in the online space to bust you if you're dumb enough - or arrogant enough - to try.


Diane Thieke

Hi David - You might be interested in some recent Dow Jones analysis on PR agencies, looking at how well they promote themselves. We used Dow Jones Insight to analyze the media coverage of PR firms, and the results generated a lot of discussion among the firms. See our Promoting PR post on our blog, www.theconversationalcorporation.com for all the details. We plan to look at social media coverage of the agencies in June, which I think you’ll find interesting. We’ll keep you posted!

Bret Simmons

You are NOT being too harsh, in fact you are right on! I tell folks to never hire anyone that does not practice what they preach. And never hire anyone that does not *continue* to practice the full spectrum of weapons in the arsenal. If you go to someone that does not blog, do you think they will say that YOU need to blog? Of course not. Thanks for continuing to highlight the correct way to practice SM.


Absolutely priceless! Not too harsh whatsoever: When the emperor is wearing no clothes, it's time to put him out on the catwalk and call the paparazzi!

Paul Merrill

Completely agreed. I've seen this happening many times. And it's always sad.


Thanks for posting this David. I can only hope more people step up to "out" people/agencies touting their thinly veiled "expertise". I believe the more light that is shined on these practices, the more it will help improve the space and urge businesses to do their due-diligence.


Not too harsh at all. Imagine how successful they'd be if they implement what they preach in their own campaigns...

Chelsea Thomas

Too harsh? No way! This was perfectly said.

Farida Harianawala

I think it is a reasonable expectation that a digital agency that supposedly played a big role behind Lady Gaga's (monstrous) success should at least show some traces of being pretty remarkable at digital outreach themselves. I can't tell you how many people I've met who say they are digital marketers or social media specialists (and are even actively doing speaking gigs on social media) and when I've looked them up online, they scarcely have a social media presence. It's hard to take such people seriously. Simply branding yourself with a fancy title doesn't work - a lot of people who are successful, including yourself, have had to earn their credentials by working hard at walking the talk.

David Meerman Scott

Thanks for all of your support.

Farida -- very well said. Thank you.

Cale D. Hawley

I found it somewhat ironic that they hired a PR agency to pitch their brand. Isn't that basically what they did for Lady Gaga. And I suppose Lady Gaga's social media success has nothing to do with the fact that she is always innovating and pushing the envelope. Priceless post.

Sean Carpenter

Great investigative work to see if they were practicing what they were preaching. It's sort of like when you go to a fancy steakhouse out of town and ask the waiter or waitress what is the best steak on their menu and they look at you and non-chalantly say, "I'm not sure, I'm a vegetarian!"

Somewhere Johnnie Cochran is smiling at your defense...

"If they do not twit, you must acquit!"

Dave Saunders

I always love getting spam from SEO and SM firms. Like...you need to resort to spam for work. Really? A direct mail campaign to businesses listed in the Yellow Pages, to get online and get found, is one thing. Spamming online clients for that kind of work? Uhhhh...what's wrong with this picture?


Great post David. It never ceases to amaze me how salespeople can try the "we know more than you do" approach, and when you peal back the covers there is little there. You were not harsh at all.

Penny Haywood Calder

In Scotland we call this the "cobblers' bairns syndrome" - the cobblers' children were always the ones without any shoes: he was too busy sorting out shoes for other people.

No-one wants a PR who sees themselves as the story, but you're right. The tables are turned when it comes to social media.

You need to prove competence in gaining an audience in 1-2-1 communications.

With social media, there is no hiding place. Indeed, the more you hide, the worse it gets, as the above tanking proves.

April Ghassemi

This is the first post of yours I've read. I'm here because I recently found "World Wide Rave" at the public library. This post echoes the chapter about preventing a world wide rant. I am new to the blog world and social media and your book has given me new insight to the benefits of social media to all sorts of businesses. This post is not harsh, but a wake-up call to businesses who have an on-line presence. It seems as more and more people become active on-line that not only is transparency in business paramount: it's unavoidable. A business is either accountable now, or going to be held accountable at some point.

Tynicka Battle

Hello David, it's Tynicka Battle from ThinkTank here. We are a digital marketing agency, not traditional publicists, so the fact that we hired one to help us get a few mentions should not have been puzzling. And we did work Gaga's digital marketing campaign, honest. For over 2 1/2 years. When I say work, I mean more like slaved. The kind of devotion that prevents you from getting enough sleep, and makes you miss dental appointments, but I digress. And naturally we do not take sole credit for the awesomeness that is her artistry and brand, but all that we executed on her behalf was nothing short of incredible. In fact, we make a lot of noise in our space (entertainment marketing), I'd like to think we're kind of a big deal, but a little press never hurt eh?

You see, I do not take issue with you taking us to task on the perceived lack of ThinkTank SM profiles on the web. We've grappled with the best use for a small company like ours. The coin toss always awarded the beneficiary of any SM efforts to our clients. That's why our twitter and youtube accounts promote them, and not us. Between the 8 of us, we serve as admin on no less than 60+ SM profiles per month across all our campaigns. You yourself do not have a LinkedIn account and explain all the reasons why, so surely you can relate. Again, it’s not at all atypical for agencies to focus on their clients first. In the past we've discussed launching blogs too, but does the internet really need another digital agency's anemic version of techmeme.com? And of course we have personal accounts and pages but they are personal, about stuff I hope to God no one here would purposefully mention or rag on in this forum.

David, I am happy you at least acknowledge that you came down on us pretty darn hard, especially before reaching out first. I would include links to the SM profiles in this comment, but the pie throwing has already begun. Hoping to have the chance to talk specifics directly with you, if you have the time or inclination please kindly let Len know. Thank you! Tynicka Battle

David Meerman Scott

Hi Tynicka -

Thanks so much for commenting here. I really appreciate you taking the time to do so and I will update the blog post to indicate that you've jumped in. Thank you.

I'm sure you worked very hard on Lady Gaga's digital marketing efforts. And the fact that she has achieved enormous success is certainly something you should be proud of. Congratulations.

However, I do think that digital marketing agencies need to be in the social media mix themselves if they are talking up their expertise in social media.

Note that there are many sub-disciplines of digital marketing (SEO, Web design, Web advertising, video creation, and others) where I would have been totally cool to let the PR pitch I received pass without comment. It was when the pitch to me touted the social media chops of the agency and I was eager to see what you do on your own behalf and found little that I decided to write about it here.

I honestly believe that marketing a business (any business) via the social Web is very important in today's world. And I believe that agencies who work with clients in the social space should walk that walk.

As I said in my post, when companies ask me about hiring an agency to do social media work, I only have one question for them to ask their prospective agency.

I would tell those potential clients that social media is terribly important for all companies, including agencies, to do. If an agency is too busy working on clients to pay attention to their own social media efforts, I would suggest avoiding the agency, particularly if the agency does have enough time and money to engage a publicist instead.

Sure, happy to chat if Len wants to set something up.


Elizabeth Kaylene

I don't see any pie throwing...

Having run a small business myself, I know that it's hard to maintain your own social media when your main focus has to be your clients. That said, it can still be done. We still wrote blog posts at least once a month, updated our Twitter and Facebook at least once a week, and tossed around the idea of doing some kind of vlogging.

As a social marketing consultant, I like to see what the "big guys" are doing so that I can stay on top of practices. I don't at all consider ThinkTank a small business, by the way, and because I see ThinkTank as a "big guy," I was pretty surprised that there wasn't even a blog.

If I were looking to hire a company to take care of my social media, I would definitely not even consider ThinkTank, even knowing that they did Lady Gaga's stuff.

David Meerman Scott

Thanks for jumping in Elizabeth.

Derek Cromwell

David you make some great points here but I can understand the counterpoints they've made in their comment as well.

I do a lot of content marketing and consulting with clients - especially in terms of social media. I've been asked similar questions by my clients: about why my Twitter account is only sporting 150 followers, why I don't have a facebook fanpage for my copywriting/content marketing biz, etc. (at least I'm blogging regularly).

My response is the same: I focus very heavily on my clients and I slave...and slave... and slave. I could certainly find the time to make more twitter updates and interactions or keep up on a Facebook fanpage (or other social media outreach efforts) but I much prefer to spend 'work time' on clients rather than myself.

Besides, I do pretty good without all the outreach. Not sure I could handle the volume if I pushed harder!

I can relate to the irony of talking a big talk but not doing the same thing for yourself but then again we don't all have to practice what we preach in order to be rock stars at what we know.

Great post - now I need to go shake off the conviction of not updating my Twitter so I can get some work done.

David Meerman Scott

Derek - Fair enough if you're not doing much yourself. But where I think you differ is that you did not pitch me using a PR agency to tell me how wonderful you are in social media. Instead you are using social media (a comment on my blog) to let me know who you are.

This is not one of those "everyone should be on Twitter" posts you see many people do. Rather, this post is about what you believe.

If you believe social media is a great way to get the word out, I feel you should think that about yourself too and not resort to other techniques.

ecommerce solution

Even at a basic level we all know how to use social media, well, to the point were we can post a Facebook update or even send a Tweet. But the most of us don’t really understand its power nor how you can use that power effectively.

Colette cormier

It's like the guys who email me to tell me they can put my website at the top of google
When you search seo companies they are nowhere to be found
And how did they find me anyway? It's because my site is already number 1 for my search phrase drawing 24,000 unique visitors a month....so not only do I know these guys can't optimize my site in google but I dont need them


I am under the impression that in order to create social media for clients, practitioners need to be able to show they have their own social media. Despite the fact that ThinkTank is behind the monster that is Lady Gaga's social media campaign they need their own presence. Their Twitter following only had about 400 followers, yet they expect clients to feel comfortable putting their social media in their hands. True, ThinkTank has prove themselves, but it could be possible they are getting lucky. The argument that they want to focus more on their clients is partially valid. While a full social media campaign takes more than a few minutes and some money, creating a valuable social presence would not be so difficult. ThinkTank should do as they say and up their company's social media campaign and presence.


Actively Social

Hi David. Definitely not to harsh. Thanks for a great post!

Hogan Allen

Great point David. I run a marketing company in the world of Dentistry. We specialize in Social Media marketing and how it integrates with a practices current marketing plan. We were invited to speak at a "Social Media Conference" by an organization in Dentistry. After doing my due diligence, I realized that this organization had hardly any social media presence? How could they host an event like this? Not to harsh at all!

Green Screen Backgrounds

how did they find me anyway? It's because my site is already number 1 for my search phrase drawing 24,000 unique visitors a month....

cep telefonu

Twitter and Facebook at least once a week, and tossed around the idea of doing some kind of vlogging.

custom hoodies

These three things are basics,to get yourself started on social presence these days. I would really love to see what Think Tank Digital have to say about your post. Spot on David another great article.

Vancouver Makeup Artist

Thanks David for that article. It will help me with my makeup artist business in Vancouver.

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