A view from Johnny Vulkan, a partner at Anomaly

Perspective: It's time advertisers loosened the social media purse strings

From the concrete canyons of midtown Manhattan to the steep hills of San Francisco, from the neon-lit sidewalks of Akihabara to the barrio of La Boca, Buenos Aires, they all share one thing in common - there's a guy stood on a street corner with a large yellow sign saying "Golf Sale".

Of course, the "Golf Sale" in question is part of a highly complex distributed media campaign controlled centrally by a single global entity utilising social media to activate an army of local entrepreneurs who, in turn, are leveraging web-enabled bulk purchasing agreements on golf clubs and accessories. If only.

But "human media" doesn't only operate at a "street team" level. There is a bigger stage than street corners and handing out cold drinks at busy intersections. Yes, you've got there ahead of me - digital crossroads in all their formats, fonts and screen sizes.

And yet while it's always been relatively easy to get a client to sign off a sizeable marketing budget for people dressed in corporate logo-covered polo shirts or driving peculiarly adapted Minis, it seems to be much harder to find a consistent marketing budget for people to be permanently in the trenches of social media and community management.

Part of the problem lies in the question of who owns the opportunity or, judging by the fear in some people's eyes, "the problem".

The final answer is going to depend on what business you are in and your objectives, but frequently the most vibrant communities are an extension of customer service, which often doesn't fall under the remit of the marketing department and is more likely to either be its own unit or an extension of "sales". Suddenly, a group of people who haven't necessarily read or value your PowerPoint deck containing the all-important brand onion, brand pyramid and your carefully crafted "brand essence" are having some lively banter in public in front of a million followers and "fans". And, to be honest, in many cases they're doing a pretty good job.

To keep up with the conversation, marketing departments and their agencies need to get involved, but that will only happen when a social media manager's salary is seen as just as important as a print media budget or when media companies feel they can still be rewarded for suggesting to their clients that hiring a couple of smart young people could be more effective than that £100,000 banner buy.

Sadly, the barrier to this isn't a lack of marketing comprehension but the inequity of corporate accounting. People are a "disposable asset", which is an unfortunate thing to be in a cosmetic cost-cutting economy. Meanwhile, banners are a "justifiable marketing investment" that happen to not need health benefits, a desk or a chair. False economy, or maybe accountancy and social media just don't click.

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