Ridiculous social media client mentality

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Social Media  |  Worst Practices

I had fun writing my most recent two posts: Advertising agency campaign mentality and PR agency pitch mentality. Based on the large numbers of tweets and comments, the sweeping generalizations were interesting to many.

Joe Chernov suggested in a comment and a tweet that I also talk about clients. What fun! Thanks for the idea. Joe says: "I have to imagine that it's the needy, by-any-means-necessary, our-competitor-was-mentioned-we-weren't clients that are behind the wheel for most of these fender-benders."

Shutterstock_angry_businessman In my experience, many companies want to throw money at "that social media thing." They frequently tap the agency they already use for public relations or for advertising work.

The client goes: "Hey, do you guys do social media work, too?"

The agency exec goes: "Yes, of course we do!"

This is exactly what leads to advertising agency campaign mentality and PR agency pitch mentality - an unqualified agency applying the skills of their trade to social media.

But hey, I get it. If you run an agency and a client has a few hundred grand to blow, why turn that down!


  • The client insists that you talk up their stupid products. "Our products are the best in the industry. Bloggers will want to talk about them."
  • The client must approve everything that you do. "We've gotta run the tweet by legal, HR, the CFO, and compliance. I can get the tweet approved in three weeks."
  • Within the first week, the client becomes an instant social media expert. "We want to be just like Zappos. Just do what they are doing. Oh and those Blendtec videos are great. Let’s do something like that."
  • Clients love gobbledygook. No matter how often you remove it, the crap keeps coming back during marathon approval rounds. "We focus on innovative solutions for new and improved, next generation, cost effective, world class, high performance, value added outcomes."
  • Clients demand the impossible and then throw a hissy fit when you explain. "What do you mean we can’t get to number one on Google for the phrase 'iPhone application'?"
  • Clients have branding guidelines from hell. "Can you make our tweets show up in PMS 2726 with Neue Helvetica fonts?"
  • Clients hate spending any extra money. "Just do a Google Image search. I'm sure you can find a free photo of a slim man with grayish hair playing tennis in the rain. But the guy shouldn't look gay."
  • Clients are cheap: "If you charge $20,000 a month retainer, can we just buy one day for $645?"
  • Most clients don’t really know what they want. "We want to be hip in a California social media kind of way, but we’re a conservative British investment bank."
  • Clients are vague: "The blog needs to look more professional."
  • Clients never, ever operate in real time. "I don’t care if the blogger needs a comment now. I'm at lunch. Then I have a meeting. And tomorrow is booked solid. Maybe I can get to it Thursday."

Anyone got any more of these ridiculous client behaviors?

Inspiration from Clients from Hell.

Image: Shutterstock / Franck Boston