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April 27, 2011


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Maria Reyes-McDavis

Your second mention, the compliance "we-must-control-every-single-micro-action" is a killer and so common among those who still view social media as a tactic, rather than something worth integrating into how we do business.

All 3 posts have been incredibly insightful!

David Meerman Scott

Thanks you Maria - sometimes we can learn from stereotypes.

Craig Kessler

Ha, you nailed it. There are tons more questions like this that I always joke around with colleagues about. As a PR rep, some of the fun ones are, "can the blogger say this or that?", "just have the bloggers write about it this week" thinking that bloggers work directly for us when as we know in reality it's more of a volunteer basis with the relationships we establish.



I must have officially become a client, because a laughed -- belly laughed -- no fewer than four times reading this post.

I cringed at this one: "We've gotta run the tweet by legal, HR, the CFO, and compliance. I can get the tweet approved in three weeks."

For me this is the best of the three-part series. You nailed it.


Bonnie L.

I would like to suggest to my clients that they actually try to some of the things they suggest themselves.

Perhaps they would realize just how much hard work is involved in what we do.

Michele Price

David so glad I saw this in Facebook today, I needed a laugh.

My favorite is: We want to make our video go viral, how long will that take you? A month? Oh an we only want to spend $300.00 for 120 hours of work, the economy is bad you know.

David Meerman Scott

Meglunde - yes. Great site. I just amended my post to give them a hat tip.

Craig & Michele - good ones! Thanks!

Bonnie - Indeed. Or maybe suggest something equally impossible in the client's business.

Joe - I appreciate you pitting this bug in my ear.

Diane Meyer

Started my day today with a big smile reading this Post. I don't dare suggest some others in fear that some clients might recognize themselves. :-) I consistently give my clients the correct advice (for them) even if they don't want to hear it. They know I have their best interests at heart.


These are brutal but often close to the truth for many of us who work in the client-serving industry. I used to work in pharmaceutical PR/marketing, so imagine how much worse social media clients are in a regulated industry! Great list because at least it makes us feel like we're not alone in our frustrations. I guess it points to the amount of education we need to do with our cilent on social media.


Rather than pointing to the behaviors, why not bring out the causes and focus on resolving the problem at it's source?

What is it that makes clients believe their crappy products can succeed in a "viral" way? Is it the fault of creative and marketing agencies?

While I agree with a lot of the points made here, is the internet and the billions of people on it just too complex to acurately say "throwing money at this won't work?" How can you be so sure?

Great stuff to think about, as always, Scott. This is exactly why I subscribe to your blog. :)


Haha, those gobbledygooks always give me a laugh. Add 'out-of-the-box' and we have a winner ;)

Don F Perkins

My most recent contribution to the ridiculousness: "I don't have time for 20 questions. Just tell me everything you know about social media."

Question is, when will brick and mortar businesses realize they must constantly reinvent themselves to stay competitive? I suspect the next few years are going to shake out a lot of dead wood and result in much more socially aware and customer focused business community.

Don F Perkins

David Meerman Scott

Tanner - right. "We want to do a viral video."

Good one, Don. Thanks

Bradley H. Smith

We needed a custom illustration (of a cruise ship) for a client and we identified a talented and fair priced artist. We brought the quote to the client - "$XYZ!! Gees.... can't someone just draw a boat?"

Somehow I held a straight face and replied, "Yes, they can. For $XYZ."

Kelly Monaghan

Ah, memories!

Before I became a worker who controls the means of production, I earned my daily crust as a hired pen in the trenches of PR and marketing.

My colleague and I were often saddled with idiots in the client organization who had to pass judgment on our work.

Far too often the default feedback ran something along the lines of "Can you make it more better?"

We solved most of these problems with "gorilla hands" (an obscure reference to an Alexander King memoir). We would insert something in the first draft so glaringly wrong that even the densest subaltern couldn't miss it.

Triumphantly, they'd point out our 'stupid' mistake, we'd 'correct' it, and the piece was good to go.

Saved us tons of time. And we never reduced our fee.

Elizabeth Kaylene

My favorite is when you meet with the client to brainstorm, produce a social marketing plan that they approve and agree to, and then they never give you the content that they agreed they would provide you. When the three month run is over -- I used to take on clients indefinitely or for a three-month "push" before they formally took over -- they're always so surprised that they didn't achieve their goals (even though you asked them a million times throughout the last ninety days for the content, and explained over and over why you need that content).

I do not miss freelance at all.




I am in agreement with Tanner who says "why not bring out the causes and focus on resolving the problem at it's source?" It kind of makes me cringe to read this long list of "rants" about customers we are all working so hard to attract.

Fernando Labastida

The "professional" thing killed me. A previous client just didn't want to rock the boat, they wanted to look and sound like their larger competitors...literally. Can you say "yawn"?

Mark Copeman

Hi David,

I'm glad you've already been recommended clients from hell - because that one makes me smile every day.

This is such a sad but true reflection on the sterotypical client and their surrounding colleagues. I've seen it for years - not just in social media.

The classic for me is no matter what you do as an agency to plan, it's so often ignored by the client. Weeks of saying I need a decision ... I need content are often ignored until the timescales are so compressed you end up polishing a turd if you excuse the phrase.

No one wins in these situations - the client is hacked off, the agency is totally fed up and the quality of the work isn't as good as it could be.

I was brave a couple of weeks ago and sacked a multinational client after our first project, I'd spent a year trying to win - because of the reasons above. They were shocked. I was relieved.

Keep 'em coming.

Best wishes,


So I tried to get a large tourism lodge operator interested in an opportunistic one-off FB campaign. When the marketing manager eventually did get back to me she asked if I could prepare a one-page summary so that she could submit it to her team for consideration at their next marketing meeting! :-)

David Meerman Scott

Kelly - H1! Love that. Make the client look smart when they correct the glaringly obvious so the real stuff slides through unscathed. Nice!

Elisabeth - Right. THere are less than 1% of clients that are absolutely real time!

Tanner & CMasi - this and the two other posts are just my editorial comment as I see it. Nothing more. If you want a more detailed analysis, my seven books are where to go.

Fernando - Yep. Yawn. That's what mostly results from this stuff.

Mark - I've sacked a few clients myself. I actually think it is a good idea to sack your least successful 10% of clients each year. The constant "upgrade" is good for business and keeps you and your team sharp.

Thanks all for this fun discussion!


I love these examples.

I've recently come across "We can get my son to do this - he wants to go to film school and he has all the kit. It'll save us some money."

A lot of clients suddenly have children or grandchildren who can do the work, but they still want to talk to you and get your opinion.

Because the technology is available to all, the amateur / pro line gets increasingly blurry - if you let it.



The scary part is I'm sure all of these originated from an actual client demand. Often more than one.



Thank you, very funny. Unfortunately, I'm sure they're not all jokes.

Not really a question, more of a situation I've run into is a company that wants to be more social, more authentic, but refuses to give their employees access to twitter/linkedin/facebook, and has a policy against mentioning the company by name on their personal accounts.

We've a long way to go.



My favorite one for photos(in Orange County) is: "We need to appeal to all ethnicities so can you get us an Asian couple, a Hispanic Couple, a Black couple and a white couple and have them ALL being best friends!"

David H. Deans

David, you create three blog posts that expose the apparent "talent puddle" that exists in the marketplace today.

Here's a question for you, is the term "professional marketer" becoming somewhat of an oxymoron?


I laughed so hard while reading this post I had to wipe tears from my eyes!!

The part about Gobbledygook is so true!! Makes me groan every time I see it!

Drew Sollberger

Loved this post, David. The "clients are cheap" comment brought back memories of Chris Rock in I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNQRqAoT-2c). Thanks for the laughs and the insight. I've re-shared with our readers as well at http://blog.reachforce.com/marketing-tips/weekly-wrap-up/friday-wrap-up-this-week-in-b2b-marketing-tips-9/

Manu Chatlani

Truly scary & insightful. Nailed it big time!


how about this one, "we want our tweet to pop."


I always smile when I find companies that want a social media presence yet block their employees from using social media in the workplace.

The delayed blogger response is also very telling. Naturally the same client will expect the blogger to immediately retract or amend an 'incorrect' post.

David Meerman Scott

Joe - "We can get my son to do this - he wants to go to film school." Sadly that happens a lot. Imagine saying the same thing about your sun who wants to go to law school or dental school?

Djbressler - yes they are funny but no they are not jokes. These things have all happened.

wallisphoto - don't forget a mixed race couple!

dhdeans - not sure there ever was such a thing. Everyone thinks they are an expert when it comes to marketing. "I like the dark blue for the logo."

Nina, Drew, Manu, Chris - Thanks!

Jeremy - Glad to hear the same silliness applies in Asia.


What is old is new again. I suffered a horrible flashback when I read: "We want to be just like Zappos." and "those Blendtec videos are great. Let’s do something like that."

The countless new business meetings I have gone to where the client said. "We want to be the next 'X Inside' just like Intel, but we have no budget." ...Just shoot me now!

David Meerman Scott

Steve -- Yup. These days the clients all want to "do something like the Old Spice Guy"

David King

This is hilarious.

I come from the PR agency world and couldn't agree more that PR agencies think social media is the same as PR.

The first action item they always take of a program is target list and pitching. Off to land some big hits and all that.

On all the gripes I hear here, I keep asking myself - why are so many companies so incompetent in general. At well.... everything.


"How do we make this go viral?"

Love this post David.


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