In Australia, which is best – traditional agencies doing social vs social media consultancies? What is the marketing mix – online, offline, direct, TV, social – that is optimum for brands? Note for overseas readers: Tony Thomas runs a small agency The Population specializing in social media marketing).

I saw Tony Thomas’ letter in B&T while moseying around a Bondi Newsagency. He reprinted it on his blog:

“Social media will replace all other forms of media within the next 5 years by making them appear irrelevant to today’s changing media consumer.”

I have one word in response to this statement: BULLSHIT!

It’s amusing to see commentary like this being bandied around amongst some of the media community who are clearly ill informed and have little to no understanding of the broader media landscape. It’s not doing social media any favors making these statements and it makes the industry look amateurish. Don’t get me wrong, social media will be essential in building ongoing brand and consumer relationships in the future, but it’s never going to make all other forms of media extinct.

Tony then goes on to outline how important it is to get a marketing mix right.

I Just Liked The Picture

I Just Liked The Picture

I left a comment on his blog to see who said that quote (experienced social media person? traditional media drinking the kool aid?)  and for a link. I mean, if it was one of you guys, well… but it wasn’t. It was someone (according to the email) at a conference.

But the whole issue begged the question – would you go to a social media specialist agency OR a major agency with social media expert? Which one works better for you? This is AN INCREDIBLY important question – kudos to Tony for raising it. And ignore Mumbles – he’s disappointingly turned into a reporter reporting other people’s news with a snarky comment, rather than a depth of content, insightful blogger.

By the way, my actual EMAIL (not letter with stamp) to B&T  said:

Very much enjoy reading B&T it’s a great magazine with a good mashup of print, direct,online and social media marketing information. And gossip. We love the industry gossip!

I did want to make one point – Tony Thomas from the newly formed social media specialist agency The Population wrote an article. In it, he quoted a media executive as saying that social media will take over traditional media in the next five years and he responded with “bullshit”and made the very valid point that a “marketing mix” of old and new media is important. I don’t think anyone would disagree with him -certainly no social media marketer that I know. But why then set up a social media specialist agency that doesn’t offer a marketing mix? Isn’t there an argument there to use a traditional agency that also “gets” social media?? Now I’m confused… ?

And yes, I’m still confused.  Is The Population marketing itself as an agency that does pure play social media, or is it a traditional marketing agency with a social media component? Do non-social media agencies that have a social media consultant have to specify that they do a mix, and in what proportions? Would you, dear reader, go to a social media expert or a large mainstream agency? Would you split what you wanted to do into two campaigns?

We’ve seen the dodgy stuff that comes out of dealing seperately with the traditional vs the online/new/interactive departments. Now imagine a 3rd one – social.  The anwer may well turn out to be “personal choice” – as long as you don’t take advice on blogging from non-bloggers for example –  but it’s the marketing that should be mixed, not the messages.

My stance? Go with the agency that understands your brand. In an ideal world, they will pull together the right team to work on the right blend of offline/online Brand Message. I’m personally uncomfortable working with any online community that has zero offline component, but then again, I’m lazy. It’s simply easier to build and maintain networks that have their  roots in the non-pixel world, than trying to figure out if it’s something that people might like to come together for.