Social Media Group and Livingston Communications .. Doing The Two Step Together

07/21/2008

Social Media Group and Livingston Communications joined forces today to create - drum roll please - North America's largest independent social media marketing and communications firm.

Update: Sorry for any confusion Social Media Group purchased Livingston Communications. The company name will remain Social Media Group. Maggie Fox will continue as CEO and Geoff Livingston will assume the position of EVP Americas.

Geoff_and_maggie_2008 While it's exciting to see the talented founders and dear friends, Maggie Fox (SMG) and Geoff Livingston (LC) creating a new dance for the social marketing industry, what is even more important is the signal that the venture sends.

1. Clients need agencies that understand the space and can help them navigate this new environment. Social media marketing needs a different skill set than traditional marketing.

2. Social media marketing is not a here today gone tomorrow fad.

3. Social media marketing is a credible marketing strategy. Sure it will evolve with the times and changes in technology. Girlfriend, the conversation is not going away .. bet you a dirty martini on that one!

Inquiring minds want to know .. Maggie and Geoff kindly agreed to a Diva Mini Interview where they tell us what makes a great social media marketing agency, their view points on social media marketing and their vision for SMG.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What makes a great social media marketing and communications firm?

Maggie Fox: Honestly? The people. We have an incredibly strong team of passionate social media evangelists with - and this is the important part - actual experience. I am consistently amazed at the quality if thinking and work that my team outputs. We would not be here today without each and every one of them, and that's what our clients are buying when they work with us - industry-leading experience and passion for the space.

Geoff Livingston: The ability for people to build genuine relationships.  These are people skills so you need folks who can listen understand, then communicate.  This is the antithesis of conventional marketing and communications firms. Networking skills become paramount, and you need a great team who understands that things are done differently out here.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Even though two of the most respected people in the social media marketing industry have joined forces, and as you said - created the largest independent SMM firm in North American, at the end of the day Social Media Group is still an "indie shop." Can the firm really go toe-to-toe to compete with the AvenueA/Razorfishes or the Edelemans of the world? If so how? If not where is your sweet spot?

Maggie Fox: Absolutely - we already are. Almost EVERY SINGLE client we have signed in the last year has expressed two things in rapid succession:

1. Their delight at finding a specialist agency with a solid results-driven process based on real-world experience

2. Their dissatisfaction with and lack of confidence in their existing agencies' understanding of social media.

The fundamental advantage SMG has is that we are not trying to shoehorn a social media practice into an existing agency model - ours is a totally new formula based on factors that are required for success. We describe it as a blend of business consulting and agency execution - best of both worlds.

Geoff Livingston:  I am seeing more and more “major league” opportunities at Livingston, and we’ve already publicly disclosed that we’re work with CES and Network Solutions.  Maggie is already working with Ford, SAP, Yamaha and Harlequin. So you see, major brands are already here. Together, we are going to be much more competitive, and if I were a big agency I would be afraid. We’re going to be eating their lunch for a long time.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What is your point of view when it comes to SMM?

Maggie Fox: It cannot be ignored.

Geoff Livingston: Community, community, community. Become a part of, then build value vis a vis the marketing. But traditional marketing approaches won’t work. It requires specialized approach.

Toby/Diva Marketing: As you enter the next phase for the Social Media Group where do you see growth happening for your shop?

Maggie Fox: Most of our clients are in the US, so that's obviously a continued area of growth for us. With Geoff's team in DC, we're well positioned to focus on continuing to serve new and existing clients along the Eastern Seaboard. Next step: World Domination! :)

Geoff Livingston: The Fortune 500, large non-profits and government. I see us being able to serve these folks in ways that no agency can offer, and that we have a major experience-based value proposition. I think most of our growth will be eastern seaboard and great lakes oriented, but we can also see further expansion.

Curtains Up .. Maggie and Geoff!

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Comments

Toby,

As always great interview. I must have missed it: What is the name of the combined agency? I am confident Geoff and Maggie will take the world by storm.

Posted by: Lewis Green on Jul 21, 2008 9:20:02 AM

Geoff, Maggie and their teams will be awesome together. I assume that since the Social Media Group 'bought' Livingston Communications the name will be Social Media Group or SMG.

Posted by: Toby on Jul 21, 2008 9:37:38 AM

Excellent interview, Toby! I am looking forward to meeting Maggie, she sounds like an outstanding professional and I am thrilled that Livingston Communications is joining forces with Social Media Group.

Both Geoff and Maggie have a lot to contribute - together, they will be a force.

Posted by: Valeria Maltoni on Jul 21, 2008 12:18:18 PM

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Toby. I am thrilled to work with Maggie, and am honored that she chose me to be her partner in crime. Truly a Diva CEO of worth.

Looking forward to another tip to Atlanta soon.

Posted by: Geoff Livingston on Jul 21, 2008 1:51:08 PM

@Geoff - truly a diva and divo combo!

Posted by: Toby on Jul 21, 2008 2:32:29 PM

Toby, I'm not sure I saw a new name for the joint venture. Do they have one?

Marc

Posted by: Marc Meyer on Jul 21, 2008 3:52:05 PM

@Marc Sorry for any confusion Social Media Group purchased Livingston Communications. The company name will remain Social Media Group. Maggie Fox will continue as CEO and Geoff Livingston will assume the position of EVP Americas.

Posted by: Toby on Jul 21, 2008 4:10:07 PM

@lewisgreen - the combined entity will be known as Social Media Group

@valeria I would love the chance to meet you, too - I can remember commenting on your blog waaay back when!

@toby - thanks for the chance to do a tag team post, I am absolutely thrilled that Geoff has agreed to hitch his wagon to ours. Very exciting times for the whole industry!

Posted by: maggiefox on Jul 21, 2008 4:30:33 PM

Sounds like a fabulous match-up! You are right; taking a new approach to social media, rather than trying to retro-fit an existing agency, will help create a fresh perspective. That's what customers are looking for! :)

You guys rock! Let me know when you are coming out to the West coast.

Posted by: Becky Carroll on Jul 23, 2008 10:36:16 AM

great interview

Posted by: usman on Jul 23, 2008 3:38:33 PM

What a great interview! And watch out Social marketing world as they will surely push the envelope on all things good for SM all over the world!

Posted by: Nettie Hartsock on Jul 23, 2008 3:47:51 PM

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