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Devine + Powers marketing firm launches social media arm

Jeff Gibbard remembers Friendster. Except, when the social network launched in 2003, Gibbard wasn’t thinking about how valuable it could be to a business trying to reach customers. He just knew it was going to be big. That thought never left his mind as he jumped to MySpace and later Facebook — which just last […]

Jeff Gibbard remembers Friendster.
Except, when the social network launched in 2003, Gibbard wasn’t thinking about how valuable it could be to a business trying to reach customers.
He just knew it was going to be big. That thought never left his mind as he jumped to MySpace and later Facebook — which just last week passed an epic 500 million user milestone — always head of the curve.
“I saw the power that the Web has at connecting people, reconnecting with someone or connecting with someone you met recently,” he says. “Prior to these technologies, we didn’t have that.”

Now, Gibbard — who holds a communications degree from Temple University and an M.B.A. from Drexel — isn’t only using the network to find old friends.
He recently joined marketing firm Devine + Powers as director of the firm’s new Social Media Practice Group, a consulting and strategy arm launched to help companies market product, service and message using social networking technologies. [Full Disclosure: We’ve featured D+P clients in past Technically Philly stories]
After receiving more and more requests for proposals about social media campaigning, the marketing firm looked to hire someone full-time to help these groups put together that strategy.
Gibbard says a lot of the decision to hire him came down to his expertise in business and being able to turn social media victories to actual customer acquisition and conversion.
This year, Gibbard says that the hype isn’t just about location-based services like FourSquare, Gowalla and BrightKite. More importantly, it’s that companies are looking to integrate social media with their business in strategic ways.
“There is a social media guru, expert or ninja around every corner, but a lot of them dont look past the idea that they can get you more followers.”
It’s not just about followers, Gibbard says. It’s about outcomes.
“You have more followers now. So what? What do you want them to do,” Gibbard often asks potential clients. “Do you to spread brand awareness? Establish your business as a thought leader in your industry?”
Since starting in May, Gibbard has been talking with prospective cleints about how to do just that.
So far, the Social Media Group is working with existing Devine + Powers clients to develop specific social media strategies across a variety of industries, including finance, restaurants, hotels, event spaces and nonprofits. The group helps businesses develop internal policy and trains employees to take the reigns of their online marketing campaigns.
Devine + Powers also offers years of marketing expertise — and crisis control — for when things might go wrong.
“We have such a diverse set of people here who bring different interests and skills to the table. These are things that really integrate into our social media skillset,” Gibbard says of the company.
Yes, Gibbard remembers Friendster. And years later, he’s making the connections between social media and business. So, what has driven him there?
“I like that [social media offers] a restored humanity to business, he says.
“If you look at the Mad Men of advertising, people were numbers, sheep. A bigger ad budget meant bigger return dollars. Now, bigger dollars is respecting people and providing something of value to them.”

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