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14 February 2012

State of the social media agency 2012 by InvestInSocial

Tim Gibbon, director Elemental By Tim Gibbon

There’s never a shortage of lists when it comes to social media, particularly those listing and ranking social media agencies. InvestInSocial (a directory from ‘social media education company’ socialfresh) has released its ‘State of the social media agency’ infographic.

The data is recorded from over 920 (well 933 when we just looked) companies that work within the social media space, 555 of which are social media agencies (as of 13 February 2012). The social directory, created in February 2011, says that almost 1 out of 3 of these 555 social media agencies are based outside of the US (72% state side, and 28% through the rest of the world).

The State of the Social Media Agency infographic shows that less than 50% of staff at a traditional agency work on social media, and more than 50% of staff at a social media agency work on social media.

Let’s look at that again:

< 50% of staff work on social media at a traditional agency

> 50% of staff work on social media at a social media agency

image of social media directory InvestInSocial form

It’s not clear where this information is sourced from, as it’s not an option to add this when adding your company to the database. Regardless, it’s a pretty vague statement to make. Even if these figures were not stabs in the dark, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn than less than half the professionals at a traditional agency work on social media. Although unquestionably an important part of their business, it’s possibly not the core part of the service offering. Also, many of the larger ‘traditional’ agencies acquire smaller social media agencies, or bring specialist teams in-house.

If a social media agency has less than 50% of its staff working on social media then it needs to seriously sit down and review its proposition. If not social media, what are the other services offered by a social media agency?

It will certainly be interesting to see if and how these agencies evolve; will some continue to be swallowed up by traditional agencies, will it be a combination of the two, or a range of other factors that shapes this element of agency land? Many PR, web design, SEO and similar agencies all of a sudden became pure social media agencies once the buzzword took force, so there will undoubtedly be another evolution of agencies once this wave passes.

Back to the infographic, it has a segment on the ‘most requested strengths for social media agencies’, which a list of categories is compared against “monthly searches.” Presumably it means keyword referrals from a search engine to an agency’s website, but it is not entirely clear and there is no further explanation here on how the definition of the term or how the data was collated. It could also mean the core services that the agency defines itself when adding the company – as those two fields (from the infographic to the database form) match.

Either way, it makes for an interesting look. It’s no surprise that Facebook services top the league table, however it was surprising to see B2B strategy being the next popular with B2C in last place.

And, the largest social media agency according to InvestInSocial’s data? Dachis Group lead with 250 employees and Edelman is the largest of the traditional agencies with 450 out of its 4000 strong team working on social media. Given the study and the agencies listed are largely US-based, more additions may assist in producing more data that can help paint a richer picture of what is transpiring globally and maybe even give an indication of what may unfold.

Are you a budding social media evangelist, entrepreneur, expert, guru and/or maven practitioner wanting to peddle your wares, how can InvestInSocial help? Until now, it’s been largely social media agencies and a few online digital communities creating lists of top 10, 20 or more social media agencies on blogs, helped with a huge dose of self-promoting pats on the back of clicky groups. With the continual rise of the of social media agency this type of ranking may become more of league table as both agencies and brands try and decipher and distinguish what defines a social media agency (and/or a social media offering within a traditional agency).


Adding your social media agency to InvestInSocial

It’s a quick 10-category form to complete at InvestInSocial, quick and painless. The strengths of social media agencies category is limited to six competencies, so choose carefully. Businesses can also add bookmarks and the directory is accompanied by a blog. It’s not the only social media ranking resource out there for specialists, there’s also Klout and Peer Index used by many an agency, consultancy and freelancer. The question remains how businesses and indeed other agencies whether advertising, marketing, PR or otherwise use and rate them. And, if they do, why?

Regardless of the services of an agency, consultancy and/or freelancer - would the directory become overwhelmed if any user (it’s not clear where the lines are) it’s allowed to submit its social media blag credentials? How complicated could it become, with every man and his dog a specialist in this arena with such current loose criteria. In the interest of research (ahem), Elemental is here.

State of the Social Media Agency 2012 infographic

Categories: Technology, Social media, Research, News, Marketing, Infographics

Tags: social media, social media agency, social media agency directory, social media directory, social media vendors, social media consultants, social media companies, socialfresh, InvestInSocial

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