There's a good discussion going on Twitter right now about social media shilling, aka "please tweet (blog, lifestream, status update, fan, etc.) this for a client" and the big "what if big agencies did this" en masse. Todd Defren started it off with his post called "Slippery Slope". Laurel Hart, an adjunct instructor at NYU, asked if it was unethical to impose said coordination across an entire firm. My response is that it's not unethical for employees to participate in social media on behalf of a client provided they disclose and do it of their own free will. It is unethical if mandated.

The idea for this post came from Josh Hallett's "Sorry We Work In Different Industries" blog post. Yesterday an agency posted their RFP criteria for companies looking to hire a social media firm. It's self serving as all get up, but not a bad start. I'm sure the agency will undoubtedly not let anyone forget that they were the first to post it on their blog, which as we know means a LOT. </sarcasm> There is one question missing from the RFP, however.

I have been wanting to write this post for a while now after reading someone say that Dell is a case study for how companies should engage in social media. For shits and giggles I decided to look at Dell's stock price, which once traded as high as $42 a share and now hovers around $14, and then though "if they're the case study, what about those companies actually making money?". And with the close of 2009 it's the perfect time to look at the performance of America's top companies and see how many of them in the top 10 and bottom 10 are using social media, and to what affect it has on their business. Without further adieu, I present my argument.

I was passed along this mp3 interview of David Meerman Scott (h/t @judbranam) being asked what the ROI of Social Media is. He likens social media ROI to measuring billboard or TV advertising and asks "what the return is of having the gardener Guatemalan immigrants out front raking leaves of the corporate headquarters?". The segment ends with his boast of speaking at Harvard's Business School so he can tell them that as educators and marketers they're teaching the wrong thing. "Intent, bloggers talking about you and Google rankings" are things that can help but "don't have ROI" (paraphrased). So without further adieu, David, I'm calling bullshit on your rant.

As you know, the FTC recently published "blogger" and celebrity guidelines around disclosure. And, the most simple terms, it said that people should be able to discern whether or not you're being compensated for talking. [caption id="attachment_453" align="alignright" width="300" caption="No room for disclosure"][/caption] On a parallel track,...