POT OF GOLD
Consulting firms and their clients share at least one major social media
challenge: finding talent.
“One of the challenges within companies, and within their marketing de-
partments in particular, is that there just aren’t people with deep, deep ex-
pertise engaging with these [social media] platforms,” reports Kate Sayre,
a Boston Consulting Group partner who helped conduct a cross-industry
benchmarking study related to corporate social media opinions, needs,
usage and progress. “You’ll hear many companies say, ‘Well, I want to hire
someone who has great marketing credentials and who also has worked a
lot in the digital marketing, social and mobile space.’ The reality is that
there just aren’t that many candidates with that type of background. And
when those candidates appear, everyone is chasing them.”
Including some consulting firms, who are also working quickly to develop
their own social media expertise while simultaneously helping clients culti-
vate their social media talent and knowledge.
BCG, for example, conducts “social media boot camps,” internal training
sessions designed to get BCG consultants—particularly those who did not
grow up in a social networked world—up to speed with using social media
technology as a consumer so that they can better understand the implications of the technology on clients.
FILLING THE SOCIAL SKILLS GAP
Aside from fluency with new and existing social platforms, such as Google+,
Christine Eberle, executive director in Accenture’s talent & organization
practice, lists several skills that social marketing requires, including:
• Managing a customer community;
• Designing products that can be marketed through viral techniques;
• Integrating data from social media platforms with data
that lives behind the corporate firewall;
• Managing business processes across teams that
“need to collaborate much more than they did in the past;”
• Developing extensive knowledge about issues
customers communicate about;
• Deflecting anger; and
• Putting thoughts into written words.
To be sure, this list covers only one element (marketing) of social media.
Add another more crucial skill – and one that all successful consultants
possess – to the social media capabilities inventory: “Judgment,” says
Joe Chernov, vice president of content marketing at marketing automation
software firm Eloqua. “Good, sound judgment is the most essential [skill]
when it comes to employees engaging on social channels. We can teach
tools, we can teach policy. But having a feel for voice, tone and timing?
That stuff just can’t be taught.” —E.K.
lenge, particularly when the right offerings
can generate heaping pots of revenue.
“Social business is a real opportunity
for large consultancies because it addresses
business functions and business value
chains—not just at the automation level, but
at the operations and organizational levels as
well,” notes Mark White, the Chief Technology Officer of Deloitte Consulting LLP’s
technology practice. “And it plays very well
in the large, complex enterprise, particularly
the global or multinational business.”
What CLIENTS Want
While social media’s “perfect opportunity”
analogy remains elusive—ERP? No, much
broader. CRM? Broader and bigger. E-commerce or even re-engineering? Getting
warmer—client demand has followed a familiar growth pattern.
As with other new, rapidly evolving
and disruptive forms of technology, social
media engagements began with software
providers (including some, like Attensity,
that consulting firms, like Capgemini, now
partner with), individual experts (who
publish books and hit the conference
speaking circuit) and, later, boutique consulting firms.
Today, there are a number of high-profile
“social media ‘gurus’/independent consult-
ants, who are driving much of the conversa-
tion and leading much of the ideation around
social media design and execution,” explains
Scott Clarke, who leads Capgemini Consult-
ing’s marketing, sales and service practice in
North America. “Their work tends to focus
on the design and setting up of social net-
work platforms and identifying opportunity
areas for social media.”
If you attended SXW Interactive or al-
most any major marketing/technology con-
ference in the past five years, chances are
you’ve heard a social media guru such as
Chris Brogan, Clay Shirky, Brian Solis or