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Reading a great article by Tom Goodwin this morning about the need to rethink agency structure, prompted me to blog about the biggest challenge that I’d recently discussed with a number of agencies. The article talks about “rebuilding the foundations of the industry”, given how different things look since the merry Mad Men days. And there’s a fundamental challenge, which working in social media has become very apparent to me… Quite simply, the majority of people working in the industry (particularly client side) are sitting at their desks during traditional office hours, “working 9 to 5” (you can see where this is going). Sure most of us pull some late-nighters or put in hours at the weekend – but that’s usually in the context of “getting stuff finished”, or getting ahead of the to-do list. Conversely, a large proportion of consumers are keen to engage with brands/ content/ experts etc outside of office hours, i.e. when they’re free. It’s not rocket science to ensure there are people manning the social media communities at these times, but as the world becomes ever more always-on I think this needs to be reflected in a true shift of how organisations are setup. They need to thinking about how to be working 5 to 9. Without acknowledging this shift, the tendency is to squeeze existing resources to do “a little more” to help out. Being set up for a “reverse Dolly Parton” if you will, seems like a huge opportunity to differentiate. And this isn’t just about social media in isolation, but rather how it can lead the rest of the organisation to think like this. Who do you think’s already doing this well?

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