THE BLOG

Digital Marketers: If Your Agency Admires Mark Zuckerberg's 'Hacker Way' You May Have a Problem

03/05/2013 13:46 BST | Updated 01/07/2013 10:12 BST
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Mark Zuckerberg's note to Facebook shareholders explains how the hacker way has given his business a particular mentality. The argument, as I understand it, is that just getting stuff done is the key to progress - rather than procrastinating. It's about continuous, relentless progress. Roger so far. But then there's this;

"In reality, hacking just means building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done."

And also this;

"We have the words "Done is better than perfect" painted on our walls to remind ourselves to always keep shipping."

I wonder to what extent 'done' is actually better than 'perfect'? Done may be better than perfect, but done is not better than garbage, for example. Which is why I think this mantra needs to carry a big health warning when it comes to advertising. Especially if you're a digital agency.

Digital agencies are the ones singled out, because there's often something of the hacker way mentality in evidence.

People sometimes tell me that digital is great because you can test stuff out and get immediate feedback. (True). But when they go on to tell me that it doesn't matter so much if you don't get it right first time, because you can quickly change it, alarm bells ring.

The flaw in this is that the web never forgets. (As some of our interviewees have found out to their embarrassment.) Every little thing is imprinted in the digital fossil record.

And the stuff they are running up the flagpole inevitably has some sort of effect on the client's brand. And it can backfire spectacularly. The defining features of digital are connectedness, and speed. Social media channels can give huge visibility to anything, within minutes.

I feel rather sorry for Nike over the 'Boston Massacre' t-shirt incident. Especially after the Pistorius episode. Not their fault though - the t-shirts relate to a sporting event, and pre-date the horror of the Boston bombing. But that story spread like wildfire. You can't play fast and loose with a brand.

I wrote previously about the role of agencies as brand custodians (which increasingly they are not), but every agency owes a duty of care to the brand owner they serve. Care means thinking through, properly, the potential consequences of any piece of communication.

Digital marketers would be well advised to ensure that that duty of care is being exercised by their Agencies.