“99.5% of ‘social media experts’ are clowns”
– Gary Vaynerchuck, TechCrunch
“Social media is just a buzzword until you come up with a plan.”
– Zach Dunn, Build Internet!
I had a rather disturbing conversation the other day. I was discussing certain aspects of the social web with a so called ‘social media expert’.
It wasn’t long before ‘social media’ was being thrown around and getting me all confused: ‘what were they talking about?’
Me: …what do you mean? Are you talking about social media or social networking?
Nameless ‘Social Media Expert’: I don’t understand; what’s the difference?
Me: OH DEAR!
Sure, they might know how to get you a few more Twitter followers and help you create a pretty new profile page, but does that make them an expert?
As businesses wake up to the fundamental importance of the social web to almost every aspect of their business, they are clamouring for the knowledge that will help them rise above their competitors. I believe that the current widespread misuse of social media by big brands and SMEs isn’t their fault, it’s the fault of those advising them.
Avoid ALL self proclaimed ‘Social Media Experts’
First off, avoid using anyone who calls themself a ‘social media expert’ completely.
Social media is just one tool businesses should be using to engage their communities. Really, what businesses need are ‘engagement specialists’, ‘communications strategists’ or anyone else who’s able to see the bigger picture and put together a full ‘engagement strategy’ – within which social media plays its role.
The Real Deal
So, what should you be doing? Who should you be listening to?
The social web isn’t about the size of your following. It isn’t even necessarily about using the most popular platforms. Businesses that enjoy the full benefit of the social web in years to come will be those with the largest engaged community. This means quality¸ not quantity!
The experts worth listening to are those who take the time to understand your business and what your business can get from the social web. They will look at which platform is best for you, how you should use it, how to find and engage a worthwhile community and take the time to indentify the right KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to help you properly measure your ROI.
Their expertise won’t start with Twitter and end with Pinterest. They will inderstand how social, search and content marketing work together to deliver measurable results – and have the breadth of experience to help you achieve them.
Most importantly: before you trust anyone with determining your social strategy, ask to see proof of past successes. You should also ask for a few phone numbers of current / past clients. If they can’t provide these (for whatever reason), walk away.
Forget about ‘social media experts’, you deserve more – no wait - you NEED more!
What do you think?
What should companies be looking for? Who should they listen to?