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Global advertising behemoth Saatchi & Saatchi is challenging wannabe Don Drapers to sign up to a social media challenge, as part of its annual summer scholarship programme.

Saatchi and Saatchi - social media faceplant?

Graduates interested in working for the firm have been invited to generate as many new Twitter followers and retweets as they can in the next eight weeks. 

Here’s the detail, from the firm’s Facebook summer scholarship group

Create ONE new Twitter page. The objective is to get the highest Twitter rating and social influence as possible before the deadline. 

The top 250 participants will then make it through to the next round. The firm is measuring success on the basis of the number of followers, updates (tweets), retweets and @mentions.

It's a little arbitrary perhaps, but it’s relevant. Advertisers are now regularly asking agencies to set up new Twitter accounts and Facebook pages to support campaigns. 

Nevertheless, by measuring quantity rather than quality Saatchi & Saatchi might be missing the point of social media, which is really about engaging the right people, rather than simply counting up the numbers. After all, follower numbers on Twitter can be gamed, and I could show any graduate how to win this outright by setting up a few simple autotweet rules (oh wait, actually this is firmly against the rules and may result in disqualification...).

Social media campaigns are often measured on the basis of volume, despite the fact that volume is not the best indicator of reach, much less success. Advertisers need to be better educated on what to look for when measuring the performance of social media campaigns. Saatchi & Saatchi, as one of the world most prestigious ad firms, should be leading the way and helping advertisers to see the light.

So what’s likely to happen? A whole heap of Twitter spam, that’s what. MindShare Director of Emerging Media Ciaran Norris says:

It's a shame that Saatchi & Saatchi has taken this route. Its heart is obviously in the right place: find people who understand modern communications and know how to use them in the interests of a client (the client here being the applicant).

"But whereas there have been plenty of recent examples of candidates using innovative ways of attracting recruiters, what Saatchis has done is jumped on the nearest passing bandwagon, and probably knocked a load of spam on to Twitter in the process - it's much like FastCompany's recent marketing campaign in that it mistakes quantity for quality when it comes to social and influence, rather than really rewarding creativity and connectedness.”

We’ll see how it goes, but one thing’s for sure: the ad agency needs to tidy up its own social media presence, if the Saatchi & Saatchi Facebook group is anything to go by. The group has more than 3,700 members and the admins appear to work at the company, so it looks official. So why is it not being properly moderated? 

The screenshot below shows the Wall, which seems to be the place to go for “fun with Latinas”, or to find out about “Low cost marriage services” and “Naughty women”. 

Saatchi & Saatchi Facebook Wall Fail

Not what you’d expect from a 6,000-strong firm that is challenging graduates to excel at social media. Mind you, it does kinda fit with the firm's strapline: “The Lovemarks company”. 

[Brilliant faceplant image by felixtsao via Flickr, various rights reserved]

Chris Lake

Published 2 February, 2011 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

582 more posts from this author

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Tom Planer

Hmm. Yes and no. I thought this same thing when I saw last years - the same but with Facebook group members. I think this is just a precursor to the rest of the trials as it were. I think the potential Don Drapers will have to do something fairly clever to get enough followers to get through - which is what it's testing surely?

over 5 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

The jury's out. I just I worry a bit about the message being sent out as far as measurement goes. It's obviously more in line with how advertisers currently tend to measure results, and is at least objective, but I'd be more interested in the creative and how it was executed, rather than firmly sticking to the numbers.

I'd have been tempted to narrow the scope too, to provide a single area or topic of focus. The first thing I'd do, to get an advantage, would be to choose a popular subject (e.g. "Justin Bieber"). Without a defined focus the playing field isn't going to be level for all participants. Though maybe that in itself is part of the challenge (which I fundamentally like the idea of... it's just that it could be improved).

over 5 years ago

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Marcelo Negrini, CEO at Zazambia Consulting

Agencies are clueless. I wonder how long will it take for CMOs to understand that, apart from online ads, the rest of the digital presence of their brands will be better in the hands of other kinds of companies?

Unfortunately, so far, most CMOs are outsourcing even STRATEGY with agencies. Unbelievable.

over 5 years ago

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Linlin Wills

Can't agree more with Ciaran Norris that it's a whole heap of Twitter spam out there. Saatchi & Saatchi has not caught up with the latest Social Influence measurement metrics.

One of the measuring tools is The Social IQ™ or (Social Influence Quotient) from Soovox.com. It is an algorithm that measures the extent to which ones credibility and popularity on the social web. It is a measurement of ones ability to drive opinions and promote ideas that they believe in.

A person's Social IQ™ is based on to 3 main criteria: Authenticity (Trust score), Connections, and Knowledge, and is determined by an algorithm which uses over 50 variables.

While increasing the size of ones audience matters, increasing ones authority and credibility with unique knowledge and information is what makes one a real influencer.

over 5 years ago

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Suraj Atreya, MBA - Digital Marketing at Hult International Business School

Is this the level of understanding of Digital and Social by the [supposed to be] cross channel agencies?

over 5 years ago

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erica | brochure printing

This is actually amazing for all the advertising and marketing yuppies out there. Working in Saatchi & Saatchi's is a dream job for many out there. But with this campaign it didn't quite get quality numbers of participants. I agree with this post stated where the agency did focus more on quantity rather than quality of participants. Although it really takes a lot of creativity and uniqueness to stand out from the competitions. But the question for this is will they be able to get the best one out from the list?

over 5 years ago

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Michelle C

I can see where they were going with this ; they want someone that can immediately launch a word-of-mouth campaign, but if you know some of the tools that can attract followers without any effort and if there's no check behind WHO'S following, retweeting, and mentioning the person, they're only getting half (or less) of the picture.
Social media monitoring is more than quantitative measures, there has to be a human look, as well...
It willl be interesting to see if they change their rules before the competition is up..

Michelle @Synthesio

over 5 years ago

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Seb Mysko

Just keeping this simple, I'd say this is a pretty boring project and certainly not a great way to introduce people to the world of social media in business. We have soooo much spam in the music industry that isn't even 'real' spam - it's just desperate / poor promoters. Also - those facts on the s&s fb page. Shocking! Sounds like they need a digi strategy - big time!

over 5 years ago

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Joe Pelissier

I don't think this is about trying to show how adept potential Saatchi graduates are at social media communications.

I think they are looking to find those with the greatest hunger to work for them. And in the process they will, hopefully, find some mavericks.

Like all big agencies they can get others to work on impossible challenges.

Clearly, the have achieved their first objective - to get insiders to talk about their company and what they are up to.

over 5 years ago

Adam Cranfield

Adam Cranfield, Chief Marketing Officer at Mynewsdesk

I think it's an interesting idea and who knows which strategies will win? By using a combination of basic metrics (follows, RTs, mentions) they are covering a reasonable portion of social media influence and reach. Yes, it isn't subtle, it doesn't use a cutting-edge algorithm, and perhaps a Bieber-based strategy will win the day, but let's see. I like the fact that the rules are simple and people are free to use whatever tactics they like. Saatchi & Saatchi will weed out the cheats and they should hopefully end up with some winners who are creative enough to stand out from the crowd.

Let's face it, a lot of brands would love to have millions of followers, by almost any means necessary!

over 5 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Michelle - yeah me too: I like the core idea, but think the way the competition is being measured isn't ideal. Doesn't leave too much room for judging the best creative / execution, and as you say, *who* is following is as important as the overall numbers...

@Joe - creative mavericks are what S&S should be looking for. Not absolutely convinced that this format will reward the mavericks unless the do the numbers.

@Adam - simplicity is a good thing. In a way I'd like this to be simpler still, by narrowing the subject scope, lest the Bieberheads win the day (of course, they may not). Let's stay tuned in to see how it all pans out.

over 5 years ago

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@Saatchi_Grads

It really is a toughie. The main objection we have really is that it's a bit of a mundane brief. It doesn't really take a huge amount of imagination to get grads to try and get Twitter friends.

It will, of course, take a good deal of imagination to get those friends and create that buzz. But it's a shame that a relatively hands-off brief is matched with a similar approach - at least for this stage in the competition.

For an interesting perspective, check this out:

http://thesaatchiexperiment.tumblr.com/why

over 5 years ago

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Selina Haria

I'm one of the Saatchi hopefuls, and I agree with the article in "by measuring quantity rather than quality Saatchi & Saatchi might be missing the point of social media"... I myself have tried to write useful tweets, rather than pointless conversations with people, but I find that if I don't get a mass following, I will not win the challenge either!

I have tried to keep a consistency in finding a subject that is popular in addition to posting quality material that people can really interact with.

I do hope they will consider the quality aspect of the hopefuls, as opposed to those who have just gained thousands of followers and no buzz created.

over 5 years ago

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Tom Callard

I think a lot of the comments are pretty valid but no-one has hit upon the reason this first round is essential. Once you do an application on Facebook (which seems a logical thing to do to reach the largest number of potential applicants as possible), you need to drastically cut down the numbers in some way that is objective.

I judged the Saatchi grad application last year, and with 1000 applications you need a quick way to cut numbers in half. Of course you will cut out a lot of talent and of course it is a strange way to use either Twitter or Facebook, but unless you have the man power to read 1000 CVs (despite being "6000 strong", we don't) then you need a quantitative way to reduce numbers.

Hopefully the coming rounds will show its quality, not quantity it is meant to be assessing.

over 5 years ago

Ciaran Norris

Ciaran Norris, Chief Digital Officer at Mindshare

LBI have taken a slightly more interesting approach to this: http://www.lbi.co.uk/blog/want-to-work-in-social-media/

And Tom, I'm not sure that "we have too many entries" is a valid reason. Hire some more HR people first maybe?

over 5 years ago

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Maeve O'Sullivan

I completely agree that quality not quantity is king, but it's nice to see Saatchi & Saatchi trying something different with its graduate recruits.

What's encouraging is that they've responded to the criticisms raised about the campaign on their grad recruitment Facebook page and tried to start a conversation about alternative ideas. Clearly someone in the recruitment department understands social - they just need to spread a little social thinking with the agency Facebook Page moderators, given the screengrab above.

over 5 years ago

Adam Cranfield

Adam Cranfield, Chief Marketing Officer at Mynewsdesk

I don't quite understand the LBi one. Are you supposed to link to something from your tweet, or is it just sell yourself in 140 characters? The S&S one is more about a campaign mentality.

If I get a million followers I will run naked down Oxford Street.

No, I will not.

over 5 years ago

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Julia Augustyn

Thanks for all comments on our scheme this year, it’s been interesting to see the response to what we’re trying to do.

As we said in our original brief, we are measuring lots of things in this first challenge - the quality of tweets, retweets, @mentions and of course, the number of followers. It’s not, and never has been, just about number of followers – but maybe we didn’t make that as clear as we could have.

We’ve chosen a simple measurement system because we want to be transparent, fair and clear to all participants. Our scoring will weight in favour of quality, retweets and @mentions – we’re looking for clever, insightful people, after all. But again, perhaps we should have explained our scoring methodology in more detail.

To reassure any grad hopefuls reading, we care far more that you demonstrate intelligence and originality in the nature of your Tweeting than we do the raw numbers. And of course, this is only the first in a series of challenges that will test you against lots of different criteria.

It's not actually about cutting down number of cvs at all (sorry Tom!) - when we decided last year to try a new way of going about our graduate recruitment, the idea was to try and find different kinds of people from the ones that traditionally apply to ad agencies. Last year, the grads we hired at the end of the scheme were some of the best we've ever found, so we do feel it works.

Thanks for listening! And @saatchi_grads - we're looking forward to seeing how long it takes for you to realise you've been rumbled.

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_127145504015671

over 5 years ago

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Charlotte Pink

I am currently enjoying the campaign and find it really interesting to watch. Only Saatchi and Saatchi could pull something like this off, and by the looks of things it seems to be working. It has certainly made my Twitter feed more interesting, although my clear favourite at the moment is @the_granny

over 5 years ago

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Online Printing

Hi Chris, you're right. When it comes to Social Media it IS about quality vs. quantity. You can have 1K Facebook friends (which does build social proof) but if none of them interact with your brand you've got a house thats not a home.

almost 4 years ago

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