Are We An Agency Or A Bunch Of Consultants & Hired Hands?

Hmm, possibly not a question I should ask in public (as CEO of a 'social media agency'), but I'm going to, because both terms frankly leave me ever so slightly cold...

Having worked client and agency side; in corporates, agencies and with/ as consultants I feel well enough informed to explore the issue. And perhaps that's half the problem. Am I fundamentally unsure, or are the boundaries becoming blurred beyond recognition?

In my mind, and thinking about the services we at Coup Media sell, the latter seems more true. Because the strategies we propose to businesses - both big and small, B2B and B2C - factor in always, an initial consultancy period followed by a period of exec level leg work (in the form of listening and rationalising online conversations) - and then it switches back to a period of skilled analysis and recommendation... and then back to implementation of said recommendations - much of which is handled again by our exec level account handlers (who are graduate level, skilled yet not quite c-level colleagues). Confused? Me too...

OK... we have a skilled team. Period. But the senior members of our (relatively) flat structure come to the fore in the initial and latter stages of projects we run, with our junior (but diligent and fast progressing) members doing much of the leg work that comes with research and first stage analysis. And then we have another team of 'content generators' - video editors, copy writers and the like who have niche skills, yet fundamentally operate (and I know they won't hate me for this) at a tactical level.

So when I pitch for business, write presentations, offer up the stats that will hopefully present social media as so much more than a fad (to be fair this is usually no longer a hard sell), are my potential clients buying the services of a consultant or an agency? So much of social media execution could be done in house once our initial strategy is agreed that often implementation means that we switch from specialist to hired hand. And therein (I think) lies the blurred boundaries. I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Paul Shepherd

I've worked in digital communications for around 15 years, and specialised in social media for the past three. Passionate about new technologies, media, and the impact it has on businesses bottom line, I try to bring that passion to every campaign for every brand we work with.