Gary Vaynerchuk in an interview with TechCrunchTV announced that ‘99.5% of Social Media Experts are clowns’. A bold sentiment (albeit opinion) which I have decided to publically agree with. Social Media Consultants and Experts have faced a backlash, none more potent than Peter Shankman’s article for Business Insider ‘Why I Will Never, Ever Hire A “Social Media Expert”’
Yet a blog post like this could be said to be doing disservice to myself. The more acute of you will know that I have titled several past positions on my LinkedIn as “Social Media Consultant”. I believe part of the issue with calling oneself a Social Media Consultant is time orientated; a lot has changed in the last 2 years.
The Problem with being a Social Media Expert
- Being a social media expert is a self-proclaimed title. There are no industry accreditations, qualifications or guidelines. Therefore the title is meaningless and “Expert” cannot be justified.
- It is 2011 and social media has become a common way of life. This links in with Peter Shankman’s quote, ‘Being an expert in social media is like being an expert at taking the bread out of the refrigerator’. Social Media is now global and everyone I know is part of at least two online communities.
- Social Media is only one part of the marketing mix. It frustrates me to the core when unqualified Social Media Experts have the cheek to call their activities Public Relations when they have no knowledge or training experience in PR. Companies who listen to such people are in danger.
- Social Media ROI is rarely thought of (which links into point 3). It takes a real expert to understand Social Media as one part of a larger plan. Measuring this ROI is something I rarely see when it comes to Social Media. What exactly is the benefit to your client? How can you defend the value of your service? (Don’t even think about saying you got x amount of Facebook ‘likes’ or Twitter follows)
- Little notice is ever taken to the audience you are trying to communicate with. A classic example of the online service FourSquare which boasts 10 million users. However 60% of those are in the US and the details of regular active users is rumored to be tiny (not helped by Facebook places). It is a service which is worthless for a UK audience. How many people do you know who actively use the service?
- Experts rarely discuss the risks, only the benefits. This is probably my most risky point so far but I believe it to be true, social media can go badly wrong. Just look at what one tweet did to Redner Group today. In my opinion being a part of a social media is a necessity but remember to have a crisis plan.
The Value behind Social Media
I believe the secret behind social media is not setting up an incredible Facebook page, creating a Twitter profile which makes you look like a God or showing off your diverse life by checking into every establishment using FourSquare. Instead it is about content, the products or services you offer. The real gold behind Social Media is your company or charity.
The art of you sharing this gold online is not about reaching out to a Social Media Experts but instead organically learning through what others are doing online. Interacting personally with your audience. It is a sentiment which is uttered by Chris Brogan time and time again. Social media is a human business.
Finding the Right End of the Stick
Don’t get me wrong. There are those who are better at Social Media than others but I do believe this is only 0.5% of those experts out there. Such a small statistic puts all companies at risk who need some advice from an expert which calls for a definite need for an industry standard and accreditation.
None better to deliver that would be aligning social media to where it truly belongs, in the hands of the CIPR. I am for accreditation of the role and not an individual qualification, that is the subject for another blog post.
Social media needs to link back to the basics of marketing.
What are your thoughts?