Archive for the 'consulting' Category

Are More Companies Turning to Social Media in this Economy?

Certain social media activities (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) can provide tremendous value to companies for very little cost, especially when compared to traditional advertising. If done right, social media can give your company a voice that people will pay attention to because they want hear what you have to say, and the costs can be significantly lower than some of the other options.

I’ve been a little concerned about my timing for starting a new consulting practice. I launched the consulting arm of Fast Wonder on June 23rd, and as everyone knows, the economy has recently taken a turn for the worse. As soon as the economy tanked, I had a couple of smaller clients pull out of deals; however, I’ve noticed an upswing over the past 2 weeks in people calling or emailing me to ask about my consulting services.

Yesterday, I came up with this hypothesis: Companies are pulling back and reassessing their strategies and spending in light of the economic situation. During this reassessment, some companies are deciding to increase their social media presence as a way to stretch already thin budgets. Even with consulting fees to help them get started, they are still spending a lot less than they would for even a single, small, traditional marketing campaign.

I put this question out to my Twitter followers on Friday:

Here are the responses:

  • PDXsays: @geekygirldawn Affirmative
  • wickedjava: @geekygirldawn completely think they are moving that direction because it’s more cost effective.
  • donmball: @geekygirldawn Maybe you’re just good at what you do. There’s always that!
  • MelWebster: @geekygirldawn Not sure, but as a small PR boutique, we have also seen an uptick lately in consulting opps.
  • unclenate: @geekygirldawn I certainly see the shift happening, PR 2.0 is making an impact. Most seem stuck on the ROI and value measurement question.
  • becnavich: @geekygirldawn I know i’ve seen a few blog posts on why companies SHOULD be turning to social media, but whether they will or not…?
  • msamye: @geekygirldawn Great topic for this afternoon’s @beerandblog.
  • jmelesky: @geekygirldawn i saw a move towards pay-per-performance in the ad space during the bust, so it wouldn’t surprise me if social is a new focus
  • Justin Kistner (on Facebook): I’m in talks with a company now is reallocating a large amount of their marketing budget to social media because they’re looking for more cost-effectiveness.

I also know that inquiries are not the same as deals, so the jury is still out on this question. I’d be curious to hear if other consultants have noticed the same trends? For those of you working inside of companies, is your company making any changes to their social media strategy in light of the economy?

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts:

ReadWriteWeb's Seven Social Media Consultants

Wow. I’m honored to have made Marshall’s list of Seven Social Media Consultants That Deliver Tangible Value on ReadWriteWeb today:

In this post we highlight seven social media consultants that consistently bring tangible value to the table. These folks aren’t full of hot air – they use their blogs to offer clear examples, links, tutorials and other resources you can put to use. If the goods you can see for free are so solid, that’s all the more reason to investigate paying for these peoples’ services.

The full list includes:

Specifically, here is Marshall’s assessment of my consulting practice (good and bad):

Dawn Foster is a relatively new entrant into the consulting world but her blog Fast Wonder is already pumping out the usable information and tools.

She’s built an enthusiastic community of supporters by delivering things like Brand Dashboards, Yahoo! Pipes and RSS Hacks and a review of a recent Community Manager compensation study.

While Foster’s work with research and tools is exciting, we feel less inspired by the parts of her discourse that are short on detailed examples. Her years of experience at Jive Software, Compiere and Intel are clearly helpful in consulting but we hope that with more consulting experience she’ll be able to offer a wider variety of examples to back up the advice she gives.

For a new consultancy, though, Fast Wonder is quickly gathering value through work with bleeding edge projects like the pseudo-stealth location-based social network Shizzow.

I’m OK with this assessment. I launched my consulting practice less than three months ago, so I think the criticism of needing more examples is fair. I’ve been working with communities in one form or another since around 2001 starting with open source communities on behalf of Intel. Later I worked for Compiere and Jive, and I am currently responsible for the Shizzow community. I also do quite a bit of community work within the Portland tech community through Legion of Tech by organizing local meetups and events. While I have great examples from these activities, it is still a relatively small number of companies. On the upside, my consulting practice is really starting to take off, and I hope to be able to offer more examples over the next few months.

Again, I feel honored to be included on this list, which includes several people that I admire and whose blogs I read regularly.