Powered, an Austin-based agency that helps brands build communities online, has acquired three like-minded firms in a bid to become a one-stop social media shop.
The acquisitions include Crayon, a social-media consulting firm; Drillteam Marketing, which focuses on blogger and online-media relations; and Stepchange, which helps brands market themselves through Facebook and other social networks.
The terms of the deals were not disclosed, but the new shops nearly doubled the number of Powered employees, from 40 to about 75.
"We know there are other social media agencies out there, and we certainly know there are other digital agencies out there" offering comprehensive social-media expertise, said Aaron Strout, CMO of Powered. "But we're the first focused on social media with the power and the employees and the platforms to back it up."
The rise of social media as a marketing platform has sparked a land grab among communications agencies -- digital, public relations, traditional ad firms, etc. -- claiming rightful ownership to the space. Despite concerns about measurement, sixty four percent of CMOs said they planned to increase their spending on social media in 2010, according to a December report from The CMO Club.
But Strout said that social media shouldn't be relegated to an add-on service.
"Social media is being asked for as one of many different services fitting into a digital umbrella," said Crayon founder Joseph Jaffe, who has taken the title "chief interrupter" at Powered. "But just because so much of social media lives in a digital environment doesnÃÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½t necessarily mean its digital, or that digital agencies are the best equipped to deliver against it."
Both Drillteam and Stepchange will continue to operate under their own brands for now. Crayon will cease to exist, and all six of its employees will become part of Powered.
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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
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