Hiring a Social Media Agency? Read this First!
Hiring a Social Media Agency? Read this First!
by

News Flash: Not everyone who says they understand or have used social media actually knows what they are talking about.

I know, that’s not much of a news flash for many of us. We’ve been watching as this tremendous growth of social media has created a mass-market of companies selling huge lines of BS to brands who honestly don’t know the right questions to ask. They are like really smooth men with pick up lines that are so brilliant you don’t even see them coming. They know if a company is looking for help with social media, it is likely because they don’t understand it themselves. Therefore, if they talk in buzz words and “fake it ‘till they make it” the company will never realize they are clueless.

This is so prolific you can’t really point a finger in one direction. I’ve seen it with agencies, I’ve seen it within corporations, and I’ve seen it amongst “consultants.”  And honestly, it isn’t that these are bad people per se, they are simply trying to capitalize on a market that is booming and trying to learn as fast as they can. That’s just capitalism taking its natural course. However, it can be really unfair for companies who are placing a tremendous amount of confidence in these providers to not at least have a clear understand of their real capabilities.  Therefore, this post will provide a list of “red flag” pick up lines I’m seeing a lot.

Social Media Red Flag Pick Up Lines

Social media is a great strategy for every company. If you don’t have a social media strategy you will be left behind.

Social media isn’t the “right” answer for every company. There are several factors to consider before diving into a social media strategy. Do you have the resources to support a social media strategy for the long-term? Are there natural places within your current marketing strategy where social media can be integrated? Are there conversations happening about your industry already?

You must have a presence on Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and…

There is no magic list of social media channels that applies to every company and industry. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are not the end all be all of social media and for many companies they are the “wrong” places to be. The big question here is whether or not your audience is actually “participating” in a social media channel. If they are which ones are they using? The reality is that for many industries Facebook and Twitter are not the right channels, but represent a drain on resources that could be better allocated to social media sites where their audience actually participates.

We will manage your entire social media presence for you…it’s effortless for you

There are definitely companies that will do this for you, but it raises a huge red flag. Social media isn’t about pushing out a bunch of marketing messages, it’s about engaging in conversation.  Who would you allow to have a direct conversation with your customers and prospects? What kind of training is involved before you let someone pick up the phone for the first time? Allowing a social media provider to manage all of your social media channels without active engagement and commitment from your team to support them can be disastrous.

We developed a strategy for Company X that led to over a bazillion fans

Anytime a provider uses the number of fans or followers or views as a gauge for the success of a campaign, I throw up a little in my mouth.  Were the fans and followers relevant to the company? Did the people who viewed your video do anything as a result? Did any of these people do anything that actually contributed to the financial goals of the company?

We have an experienced social media team

Unfortunately, this is more often than not a bold faced lie. There aren’t enough people who have successfully created, implemented and measured a social media strategy for a business to work for all of these providers who are making these claims. I’ve seen this range from people who have no “real” experience in social media to a team of fresh out of college “interns” being managed by one person who has a little bit of experience. Make sure to ask exactly who will be working on your account and how much experience “each one” has in social media. Also, make sure to ask what companies they have developed and implemented social media strategies for. You will likely have some junior people in the mix, but you should have at least one who has been in the space long enough to know their elbow from their “rhymes with smash hole.”

Social media is special. Your current marketing strategies won’t work, that’s why you need us.

Social media is another tool in your marketing tool kit. It isn’t any more special that email marketing or paid search advertising. Each one of these requires and understanding of what you want to accomplish and a clear understanding of how it can help you reach your business objectives. Social media isn’t any different. In many cases, social media will compliment your current marketing strategies with a little twist.

Social media is the only marketing strategy you need.

Social media is not a silver bullet. It will not fix problems within your current marketing strategy and quite frankly it is more likely shine a big red light on them. It is also not the “only” marketing strategy a company should use. Good marketing is a combination of smart strategy and well-thought out tactics that are executed within marketing channels where their prospects and customers play. Putting all of your eggs in the social media basket is extremely risky.

If you don’t know a lot about social media and need some help, that’s okay. But make sure you prepare yourself so you hire a solid provider who can contribute to your goals. There are some really solid providers out there if you look hard enough. The best tip I can give you is to ask for specific examples and references. Then actually check them. Otherwise, there are plenty of people who have some great ocean front property in Arizona they’d like to sell you.

Have you heard some really bad social media pick up lines? Are you seeing a lot of social media snake oil out there? What raises a red flag for you? How can you help someone select a legitimate social media provider? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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About the Author

Nichole Kelly
Nichole Kelly is the CEO of Social Media Explorer|SME Digital. She is also the author of How to Measure Social Media. Her team helps companies figure out where social media fits and then helps execute the recommended strategy across the “right” mix of social media channels. Do you want to rock the awesome with your digital marketing strategy? Contact Nichole
  • I just came across your article Nichole and loved the part about watching out for any company that claims “[they] developed a strategy for Company X that led to over a bazillion fans”. So many times we’ve had a client come to us after working an agency or social media “expert” who sold them on guaranteed followers/likes/traffic and the client didn’t realize that these black hat techniques would get them penalized. Great post!

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  • Every time I come across a blog post or article suggesting social media is a necessity for any small business, I can’t help but think of many likely exceptions. What about someone selling used furniture? Are they likely to get a lot of facebook “likes” or new customers via Twitter? There are likely ways for social media to provide value to most businesses, but there are clear limitations that aren’t always addressed in writing on the subject.

  • So many snake oil salesmen out there it’s disgusting. My favorite part about this article was the comment about touting the number of fans and followers. Totally agree. So what if you have 8,000 useless followers gathered through garbage methods? Unless they DO something with your brand and complete the desired action(s) you are aiming for, it means exactly zilch. That’s another thing I would add to this that probably ties beautifully into point #2 about where to be present in social media – You need to know what you’re doing it FOR. As Avinash Kaushik said “Know what you’re solving for.” Unless you know exactly what you’re aiming for and creating a 2-way conversation that centers around the goals you’re working toward, you’re probably sinking tons of time and money into something that will ultimately do nothing (or very little) legitimate for you. Focus, focus, focus people.

  • “Anytime a provider uses the number of fans or followers or views as a
    gauge for the success of a campaign, I throw up a little in my mouth.” That made me laugh out loud! So true and one of the things that really annoys me. Numbers are meaningless without context.

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  • A great post Nichole. Social Media is such a new frontier, there are a lot of very confused and concerned people out there. Posts like this will help a lot of those people make better decisions. 

    I think that we all need to remember that social media shouldn’t be your marketing and communications strategy, it’s only one component of the big picture. 

    We are sharing this with our clients through our blog with some further comments: http://www.thewebshop.ca/blog/?p=2800

    • Matthew – Thank you so much for sharing the post. I’m thrilled that you found it useful.

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  • “Each one of these requires and understanding of what you want to accomplish and a clear understanding of how it can help you reach your business objectives.”
    Every article has that little hidden gem and this was it for me. How often do we forget that any marketing strategy is void without clearly defined BUSINESS objectives? SM is an easy way to get caught up in the movement and forget about the business — the best way that I’ve found to ensure this link is to ensure the person involved understands your business almost as well as they claim to understand social media.

    Great info piece!

    Chris

    • Thanks Chris! I’m so glad you found a little nugget to take away. :-)

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  • Al Haberstroh

    Good points, I would add one more.  First thing, if a company tell you THEY ARE a social media agency…run, don’t walk away from them.  Digital, including social media is about DATA.  If you are not presented with a plan that. first and foremost, leverages market intelligence, i.e. the data, don’t proceed.  Many social measurements like “likes” are dataless and therefore meaningless.  You need an integrated marketing agency.  Tell the “social media experts” to go post. 

    • Interesting point. I think one of the challenges with an “integrated” agency is that not all of them are truly integrated. I’ve found that every agency has a sweet spot of what they are really good at and they add additional services to satisfy client demands, but they aren’t their core competency. Some obviously do this really well and deliver tremendous value to clients, others kind of guess at what to do in those areas and unfortunately social media has become a huge area that has been added to a list of services in this manner.

  • I hear a lot about agencies who leave their clients in the dark as far as what their strategies are. Doing this to force your client to continue to pay you is just bad business. My goal is to transfer knowledge TO clients so they can manage their online presence themselves.

    Who is more passionate and knows more about a product than the people who produce it? How can a social media agency or consultant 100% replace the bravado of the owner? They can’t.

    The points made here about the ‘smoke and mirrors’ that agencies and consultants use to dupe newbies are the same reasons that these agencies and consultants will be out of this game in a few years.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Thanks! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. I agree, the transfer of knowledge and training is what will help brands be most successful in the long run. Thanks for commenting!

  • love it. i am often sad to hear companies going with agencies that claim to know a great deal about social media who promise great things when in fact majority of the groups out there really aren’t experts at all. social media is just too young of an industry to claim to be an expert. But it is true that some have more experience than others and that is invaluable. 

    I say look to partner with someone with a decent amount of experience who can describe how they measured and analyzed the social media traffic. Also definitely look for referrals, as finding a smart, analytical partner who just GETS social media and GETS marketing is just as, if not more important at this stage than some random person who started a few social campaigns.

    • Great points Paul! Thanks for adding to the conversation. :-)

  • This is a great article. I recently heard that Social Media cannot be an area of expertise as it has not been around long enough, if it had – you would be able to earn a bachelor’s degree in it. However, I think if you find the right PEOPLE (not person) they can provide excellent coaching and engagement strategies. Social media has really only blossomed in the last 3 years… and most of us have spent the last 2 trying to understand it. Soon enough, it will be a skill – not a job & part of everyone’s job description. There are a lot of sharks in the water chomping at the bit to be a social media “expert”, so one must definitely take caution in choosing the people that they put in charge of their brand in the social sphere. Great stuff!

    • Marissa – Thanks for sharing…It’s an interesting point because I wonder how long it will take for the education system to catch up with all of the new “media” opportunities? Unfortunately, they tend to move pretty slow at adoption in curriculum. However, I have started to see more courses in Bachelors and MBA course work popping up. Totally agree that social media is a skill! :-)

  • Jean Pickering

    I could not agree.  I frequently say, go to any corner and you will find meet 4 people; a social media expert, a coach, an event planner and an SEO expert.  Rarely are they really experts since truly experienced people know there are no experts, their are practicians.  One of my biggest pet peeves is running into these people who do not have to show any credentials and don’t have any training. They just claim the title and start selling themselves as this.  A question that should always be asked is “How long have you been doing XYZ?” and then research them on the web and the main social media sites.  If they started within the last year, they can’t be “experts” at anything except for maybe BS.

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  • Nichole, great and enriching post! However, I too, like Justin have a couple of points that I think should be open for discussion. Social Media is special, and not that social media strategy should replace email or search (absolutely not the latter) the right strategy can be a catalyst to gains that no other marketing strategies can achieve for a business. Also, there is the contingency that believes that email is a waning marketing vehicle, and based on how I treat the emails I get from companies I tend to agree with such sentiments. In that sense social media strategy is more important than your email marketing. I agree that social media activities are not to be sold as “extraordinarily – solve all your problems – special” or as some sort of holy grail of marketing strategy BS (that’s snake oil), but this exponential growth we are seeing in the industry has some level of legitimacy attached to it.

    • Damion – I think you tapped into my sentiment perfectly. It’s more that social isn’t the holy grail. I totally agree that social can create success for companies in areas they would struggle to achieve otherwise. I would have to disagree on your thoughts on email and here is why. So you go through all of this effort to build a relationship in a social media channel. You have created stellar content that people are downloading and sharing all over the web in return for some simple contact information. How would you convert them? A strong email strategy that supports your social strategy, in my opinion, is critical to show social media success. Here is a fantastic interview with Greg Cangialosi, CEO of Blue Sky Factory talking about how email is the “digital glue” that holds your social strategy together. I think he is right on the money and one of the reasons that many social strategies struggle is because they haven’t integrated a way to get contact information from your fans and followers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxaGvfhAk3k What happens if tomorrow Twitter and Facebook ceases to exist? How would you get back in touch with all the people you had worked so hard to build relationships with? If your strategy included capturing email information at some point the answer would be simple. If not, you’re probably up the creek so to speak. :-) Your experience with email is certainly very valid. There are a lot of companies using spammy email tactics that we all ignore. But there are a few, that personally I look forward to every time they hit my inbox. The ones that you physically pull your car over if you are driving because you have to see what’s next. That’s the kind of email support I want for my social strategies! Thanks so much for commenting and joining the discussion. 

      •  But what happens to your strategy if email ceases to exist tomorrow?

        If you consider the possibility of Facebook and Twitter suddenly disappearing, then you must consider the possibility that email could also drop off the face of the Earth.

        • Sure, it is possible that email will drop off the face of the earth. But it is far less likely, than someone beating out Facebook or Twitter and developing a new platform. Remember MySpace, who would’ve thought that in a few short years MySpace wouldn’t be the go to spot for social networking anymore. The key is to have multiple ways to connect with your audience so that all of your eggs aren’t in one basket. :-) Thanks for commenting.

  • But I promise I can get you a bazillion fans and only half of them will be auto-bots and porn stars. We promise :). Good stuff here, Nichole. Definitely need to be weary of a social media only agency, because if that’s all they do, do they really have your best integrated marketing interests at heart? And are they the best fit to help you reach your customers?

    I would challenge a couple of your points above. First, social media does makes sense for every company. I have asked people to give me an example of a company it doesn’t make sense for and have yet to hear one where it wouldn’t be applicable. What doesn’t make sense is doing social media just to do it. Or not thinking about how it fits into your overall marketing mix, biz objectives and IDing how many resources to put behind it. Every company can benefit from being social and from word of mouth. It’s the essence of how we do business, no matter what your business is.

    I also think you could make a strong argument that every U.S. company needs to be on Facebook. Recent stats show about half the U.S. population is one Facebook. And you don’t have to be on Facebook to be affected by it — true for any word of mouth example we can think of. A Facebook presence is as important as having a website, even though they serve different purposes. But if you just have a fan page and aren’t engaging and targeting, you will be sorely disappointed.

    Agree with the sentiment of your post overall and appreciate you saying it. Cheers.

    • Thanks so much for commenting! I think every company will benefit from social media, but for some using an internal social media strategy to build rapport and sharing amongst their employees is where they need to be because their audience isn’t talking about their business in social media spaces. Their audience may be on Facebook, but they may be there to socialize with friends. If there isn’t a natural dialogue that the business can participate in creating a presence could detract from resources that could be better used elsewhere. My example of a company I would have a tough time interacting with on Facebook, is my sewage company. I don’t really want to know where the poo goes and certainly wouldn’t talk about it in a public forum. Maybe that’s just me! :-) I love hearing other perspectives and I’m so glad you joined in the conversation. 

  • Jacobkcurtis

    Great article! I work in the social media division of  a company called Netbiz.com based in Portland, OR. I agree that a social media strategy may not be for every business so be sure to watch for these red flags!

    There are a lot of posers out there who claim to be “social media gurus” however as the article suggests it is important to do your own research and ask the right questions.

    Now for a shameless plug-

    http://www.facebook.com/netbiz.netbiz
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    http://twitter.com/NetbizSEM

    Regardless of wether or not you become a client of ours, we post weekly tutorial videos and up to date content on trending social media strategies for businesses.

  • Anonymous

    Nice article, hear, hear.  Having been around when there were only 6 social listening companies, I heartily agree. 

    David

    • David – Thanks so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. I wonder what the count is up to these days on social listening tools? ;-) I lost track.

  • Anonymous

    Nice article, hear, hear.  Having been around when there were only 6 social listening companies, I heartily agree. 

    David

  •  

    Why are so many businesses rushing to get on the social market bandwagon without thinking things through?  

    Look no further than the current state of our economy.  

    Businesses which have traditionally done well while spending very little on advertising and marketing are suddenly finding themselves in unfamiliar territory.  In this economic climate, many of their formerly loyal customers are reluctant to spend money unless it’s an absolute necessity or it’s a saving compared to other alternatives. 

    The pizza their former customers are eating on Friday night is no longer delivery, it’s DiGiornio.  Instead of fueling their coffee addiction with over-priced Starbucks, their former customers broke down and purchased a $500 Espresso machine and drink gourmet coffee at home.  Instead of going to the movies or the local video store (which is now empty retail space for rent), their former customers have subscribed to Netflix.

    These businesses are looking around and noticing their competitors have snazzy new websites that are updated on a daily basis with live Facebook and Twitter feeds.  They’re not asking themselves if their competitors are getting results because they’re too busy trying to stay above water.  They see upstarts driven by technology grabbing a lion’s share of the market.  

    These businesses come to the realization they are this generation’s icemen.  Do they keep doing what they’ve been doing, even though it’s not working as well, or do they decide to become refrigerator repairmen?  There are very few people delivering ice by horse and buggy these days outside of Lancaster County.  

    The question isn’t whether to make the leap into SEO and social media.  The question is how to do it without getting electrocuted.  In some cases, it means avoiding Facebook and Twitter completely.  In other cases, it’s figuring out how to use those services to your advantage.  As they say, hindsight is 20/20.   

  • With loads of information coming from every corner of the world is hard to know what actually worked for X or Y company. There are a few samples out there that made a huge impact in the world such as Egypt.

    One thing is for sure. Social Media is NOT for everyone. Let me use the one sample I tell my prospective clients. Does a Funeral home needs Social Media?? Why whould they need Twitter, Or Facebook?? To send out a public update of Mr. X death?? No!!!

    Just like you also use the sewage removal sample.. There are things in life that are just not going to ever need Social Media.

    When it comes to helping people understand the Hows? or Whys? I rather use my time to share what I know with them by coaching them rather than selling a FULL solution. 

    • Guest

      Why couldn’t a funeral home benefit from a community of like-minded people (people grieving, people with questions about burial options, people relating positive, supportive experiences they had with the funeral home…etc.). People with aging parents are sensitized to death and dying issues. Hospice topics, death with dignity topics…all could be moderated by a well-intentioned funeral home, especially one that’s been part of its community for a while. I’m not making the case for ‘social media is for everyone,’ but, let’s remember that social media doesn’t just have to be hawking something. A well-fostered community could pay off big for the funeral home that moderates it as a community service. What funeral home will be top of mind when someone who’s been part of that community needs one? You guessed it.

      • Interesting indeed…there is definitely a need in this space for useful knowledge especially when a death is unexpected. A lot needs to be done in a very emotional time. This could be a great addition to the funeral homes website. Thanks for sharing!

      • A friend in the US recently lost her husband to ALS – the funeral home used a social network site to alert the huge circle of friend globally who couldn’t make it to the funeral and directed online traffic to a very tasteful online “visitors, memories” book.  It was sensitive, well thought through, relevant, easy for friends to share to other friends to let them know…. those of us in far flung places (I’m in Thailand) appreciated it greatly.  

    • DJ – I like your approach of using coaching to help clients. I’ve been doing something similar and it is a great way to help the client help themselves. ;-) Thanks for sharing!

  • Emily

    Nichole, thanks for the great post. I especially loved your point about utilizing social media to have a conversation. The whole point of social media is to be social! Providing valuable content that the consumer will be interested in is so important, along with responding to both positive AND negative feedback. Social media is a great tool to communicate with your consumers and industry peers, and it should be used as such. We also wrote a blog post about social media benefits here: http://www.grmwebsite.com/blog/bid/51716/How-Social-Media-Can-Boost-Your-S-E-O As our marketing horn likes to toot– with Inbound Marketing, Content is King! 

    • Emily – Awesome! Thanks for sharing your post. I’ll definitely check it out. :-)

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  • Wezzleyh

    After doing a quick search on Nichole to determine her expertise in social media to the extent that she can advise the readers of Smartbrief on Social Media about the pitfalls of social media hucksterism, I’m a little surprised to find she’s been an “expert” in the field for only 7 months?!?  Or if we want to give the benefit of the doubt, we should include the preceeding 6 months she spent as a blogger in the space.  But with no social media professional experience leading up to her blogging role, could it be she’s exactly the type of “expert” we’re being warned about?  Nichole, exactly what IS your professional experience in social media?  And ironically, I see from Nichole’s LinkedIn profile, she’s not open to receiving any Inmail or Introductions.  Wonder how she comes across all of these other “experts” who make her throw up in her mouth?  I guess its not via LinkedIn, you know, that social media company for professionals….

    Look, her “advice” here is not wrong, just simple, basic common sense.  Any company marketing director who would not have already had the same thoughts when confronted by such obvious posers as she references probably has about the same level of social media experience as Kelly has.  The editors here should really put forth a little more effort in finding contributors who actually have something to contribute based on real, professional experience.

    • Ouch!

    • Nichole has already answered this below, but I’d add that working 7 months with Jason Falls is pretty valuable experience, and if she can get thumbs up from those of us with more than five years of experience, she must be doing something right. 

    • Wezzleyh – I congratulate you for doing exactly what I suggested you do for any provider and asking for my qualifications! Kudos! While I typically wouldn’t respond to an attack on my credibility such as this, I’m happy to oblige in light of my recommendation in the post that clients ask for relevant examples.

      Most of my experience comes as a corporate marketer working brand-side. I just recently started my consulting business, as you pointed out.

      In the days of early social media when we were focused on forums and message boards, I managed teams and created programs to generate adoption of 4 employee-driven corporate intranet websites, one of these was selected by Nielsen Norman Group as one of the world’s Top 10 government intranets. This dates back to 2001.

      I was responsible for developing the go-to-market strategies for integrating social media into corporate marketing plans at my last two employers dating back to 2008. The strategies and measurement approach I spear-headed led to several press mentions and case studies which were published by various media outlets, all of which can be seen on my Media page at http://fullfrontalroi.com/media/. Additionally, through measurement I was able to show the true bottom-line impact of social media efforts, specifically up to a 732% improvement in the conversion rates of new and existing leads. One of these was written by Jason, which was how we met.

      My focus was to develop social media strategies to solve business problems which led to the creation of a new lead generation strategy utilizing social media channels designed to capture and convert leads at significantly lower costs. During that process, we also created a blog and Twitter account that were managed by real customers rather than employees highlighting customers as brand ambassadors.

      I started my personal blog in April of 2009, which admittedly I was a little later to the party than most mainly because of the time commitment involved.

      From a LinkedIn perspective, I’m not sure what you are referencing. While it isn’t one of my most frequented social media channels I have always accepted inmail and introductions. LinkedIn is primarily a B2B social media channel and while I’ve been active in the past, I find more value in the private Facebook groups I frequent at the moment. This certainly may change over time. Therefore, if you are looking for me I tend to interact on Twitter, Facebook and my blog as those are my channels of choice. 

      While this certianly isn’t a complete representation of what I’ve accomplished using social media for companies, I hope that it helps to illustrate some of my street cred.

      Thanks for commenting!

       

      • Wezzleyh

        Rather than going long on the reply, I’ll simply point out a couple of things which ought to be obvious to all;

        1) Not being sure what I’m referencing vis a vis your LinkedIn profile is a bit of a “red flag” regarding your dilligence in maintaining your own professional “brand” in what arguably is the world’s leading business to business social media.  Check the facts you’ve provided there, as well as the fact they say you are not open to receiving inmails, etc.  Clearly either you or LinkedIn is mistaken.

        2) You seem to cast a really wide net in defining social media as it pertains to your professional experience, and thus your expertise in said media.  While being sensitive to appearing I’m “attacking” your credibility, creating/designing message boards for some government intranets in 2001 doesn’t seem all that relevant.  And as for the Neilsen Norman group?  They’re a web design consultancy!  How does their expertise translate to an endorsement of anyone’s social media cred!?!?

        In any case, we agree that common sense should rule the day when marketers are deciding who’s advice is worth hiring, whatever the subject matter might be….

  • Anonymous

    What a great article!  The hype around social media has reached new heights.  Frankly speaking there are folks out there that are trying to capitalize on that alone.  Just because social media has worked for some industries it doesn’t mean that it will work for yours.  There are far too many confused business owners out there still that have misinterpretation of social media or simply think that it doesn’t work.  That’s really just my 2 cents on this.  

    Thanks for sharing!  

    • Great points! Thanks for adding to the conversation!

  • Oh, this is so important.  You don’t have to be the most qualified person on the planet to be able to help someone in Social Media, but you do have to be honest about where your limitations are, and when you need to pull in some help.  I remember a course I took about managing social media for clients and one of the managers was asking what a hashtag was on Twitter.  I was worried.

    • Darlene – I agree 100%. Social media is about transparency and that transparency needs to exist on both sides of the client relationship. Thanks for commenting.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Nichole for this great article. I think every consultant should ask this question first: why does your company exist? The answer will define the target audience and the suitable channels of engagement. 

    • Juan – Thank you so much for commenting. Great first question to start with. :-)

  • Great article! Lots of valid points.  I would love to see more articles like this on the web to help people become educated consumers of social media services. 
    Another Red flag is the way social media “experts” set their price points.  I wrote about that here http://captivetouch.com/blog/3-erroneous-pricing-methods-to-watch-for-when-outsourcing-your-social-media-efforts/

    • Sherry – Thank you! I’ll definitely take a look at your article as well. Thanks for sharing.

  • I may be in the minority, but I wholeheartedly
    believe that (temporary) delegation of social media serves a very important
    purpose. It’s not as cut and dry as ‘if someone offers to do social media for
    you, they are crooks.’ If a parent hires a nanny and doesn’t pays attention to
    their kids for 18 years, yeah, bad things are gonna happen. But if they otherwise
    pay someone to their kids but pay someone to teach them to ride a bike because
    they don’t know how, they are still good parents — they just need some help to
    get over a hump.  That’s how I think of my social media delegation
    services — as social media training wheels. Certainly not a sustainable,
    long-term solution, but incredibly valuable in helping someone learn to ‘ride’
    the social media bike. So when clients turn to someone like me, I make it very
    clear that this is not a long-term solution and that I ultimately want to pass
    the role over to an internal asset in short order. But, in the meantime, I am
    going to train them and teach them to get familiar with the mindset to succeed.
    And my end-goal — my measure of success — is to let them go and watch them
    ride off into the sunset on their own.

    • Sorry about the confusing typo in the 4th sentence. Should read, “But if they do pay attention to their kids, but decide to pay someone to teach them to ride a bike because they don’t know how…”

    • I would absolutely agree. I think that is different than telling a client that you will do everything for them and it won’t take any effort on their part. :-)

    • Stephen,

      I think it’s important that you mention you are upfront about what services you are able to provide and where you see yourself within the social media profession.  Is your entire business based on this premise?  What is your audience?  I am interested in learning more about your business model and how you sustain your brand.

      Sebastian

  • Anonymous

    While their is some truth to what you are stating and I totally agree a social media expert does not exist, however every company does need to address Social media  and it does need to be part of the marketing strategy whether they choose to participate or not they they need a strategy

    Social media isn’t the “right” answer for every company –  as stated above every company need to have a social media presence as social media is all about branding and interacting if companies do not want to promote their brand then they can use other more costly channels that may or may not succeed for them. There are conversations
    happening about your industry every day on sociual media and you do need to listen so you don’t get blindside by negative PR this is why one must have a presence on Facebook and Twitter, YouTube etc if nothing more to preserve the brand so it isn’t taken by a competitor and to listen, listen, listen.

    While there is no magic list of social media channels that applies to every
    company and industry. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube right now are the big three and if you don’t protect your corpotate brand someone else will take it away  that’s why it needs to be protected.  Social media works for both B2B and B2C companies to be absent is to be in the wrong place.  The big question here is not whether or not your audience is
    actually “participating” in a social media channel but which one and where.

    The reality is that for many industries Facebook
    and Twitter may not fit right now, but the company name and brand still needs to be protected and if one does their homework they will find the best fit sites for their business which may not be Facebook or Twitter, however based on the current growth of both and the recent demographics released by PEW research I find it difficult to justify staying away from these two solutions and if properly managed with the correct tools, it will not represent a drain on
    resources.

    We will manage your entire social media presence for you…it’s effortless for you

    There are definitely companies that will do this for you, but it
    raises a huge red flag. Here you are right on – Social media isn’t about pushing out a bunch of
    marketing messages, it’s about engaging in conversation and you want your A game on – you need to do this inhouse with people who are passionate about your company and social media and that adhere to a corporate social media policy.

    We developed a strategy for Company X that led to over a bazillion fans

    Anytime a provider uses the number of fans or followers or views as a
    gauge for the success of a campaign, I throw up a little in my mouth.
     Were the fans and followers relevant to the company? Did the people who
    viewed your video do anything as a result? Did any of these people do
    anything that actually contributed to the financial goals of the
    company? Excellent  comment and suggestions –  it come down to conversion –  are you getting results that ad to the bottom line and if not what need to change so that the correct results are achieved.  This is where a skilled social media adviser adds value.

    We have an experienced social media team – totally agree there
    aren’t enough people who have successfully created, implemented and
    measured a social media strategy for a business to work for all of these
    providers who are making these claims.

    Social media is special. Your current marketing strategies won’t work if you try to use social media the same way you use traditional media.  Social media is not about shouting  our your message, its about engaging with your customers and potential customers and educating them about your product and/or service offering. Ideally you want your customer on your Fan page have conversations about how great your product or service is so other people will want to have it as well. This takes time but this is an example of what you should want to achieve with social media and it is what several of the big brands have done already.

    Social media is another tool in your marketing tool kit. However, it is special  and needs to be treated differently then email marketing or paid search advertising, but it also needs to be integrated with email marketing and paid search, that’s what makes the “Share button” so powerful and can take your email or ads and make them go viral which that can’t do without an integrated approach and strategy.  While each one
    of these requires an understanding of what you want to accomplish to you reach your business
    objectives. Social media is different that’s what makes it so powerful and effective when properly implement and integrated with an overall marketing plan and strategy.

    • Wow…thanks for your detailed comments. I personally still struggle saying that social media is right for every company. If there are conversations happening, there is no question that a presence is likely needed. But there are certain types of businesses and organizations where people just aren’t talking about what they do and it would be kind of weird for the organization to jump in and start the conversation. For example, it would be weird to me if the city I live in had a social media presence to talk about sewage removal. Unless of course, there were laws that were being evaluated that would somehow impact sewage removal in a way that constituents needed to be aware of. It is also very different internationally as many countries are behind the US in adoption of social media channels. So I’ll agree that if there are conversations happening a presence can be a good idea. But if the audience isn’t there and conversations aren’t happening, I think there are probably better marketing strategies available to help the company where the audience actually is.

  • Thanks for pointing out that everybody need not act like a line
    mule in the social media circus.

  • A nice article

  • Very relevant and useful.

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  • Excellent Nichole, its is comforting to read some sage advice from among all of the hype. 

    • Thanks Geoffrey! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. 

  • Excellent Nichole, its is comforting to read some sage advice from among all of the hype. 

  • Here here!!  I completely agree!  Great read, thanks Nichole!

    • Ashleigh – Thanks so much! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. :-)

  • Thank you Nichole for posting the obvious to all of us frustrated with the Social Media buzz. It has become saturated with buzz terms and the need to be on Social Media channels has everyone scrabbling to get fans/followers/likes/+1’s….when it is solid marketing strategies that prevail. Measure the metrics to your Social Media campaign to see the real ROI.

    Sometimes it is just the fact that your brand gets talked about in a positive way not just massive sales revenue increase. Be sure to include a solid brand management strategy so that you follow the conversations online, that each question is responded to in a professional but conversation manner. Get HR involved so they can assist in team building and communication.

  • Hey, Nichole – I thought you made a lot of valid points, but when you say, “Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are not the end all be all of social media and for many companies they are the “wrong” places to be.” I just can’t agree.  Not the “end all and be all”, that’s absolutely true, but what kind of company would you say should NOT be using Facebook, Twitter or YouTube? 

    • I’ll answer. The company whose target audience isn’t there. CPA firms,
      as an example, target CFOs. Lots better places to spend time reaching
      them than Facebook or YouTube.

      • Maybe, but don’t even CFOs mix business and Angry Birds from time to time? 

        • Probably not, but if they did, that environment would not be conducive
          to business discussions, so strategically, it isn’t a sound way to
          commit time or resources.

          You also have to consider use statistics. Twitter is used by 8% of the
          U.S. according to Edison/Arbitron. Focusing energies on a network your
          target “may” frequent but omits 92% of the population, when a higher
          percentage (above 50% according to sampling a former client did of
          their existing customers) of the target reads blogs and participates
          in LinkedIn groups, well I’m not going recommend a Twitter, Facebook,
          YouTube strategy. Those that do aren’t planning stategically.

          • Yup…yup…yup. Agreed. There are a lot of business audiences who aren’t on Facebook because they want to talk business. They are there to share pictures of their kids and chat with their friends. If you go busting in talking about work you look like a “rhymes with smash hole”. :-) Go where your audience is. 

      • Absolutely Jason. To expand on your comment.. If for example your target market is B2B, I have found LinkedIn to be a far more relevant audience than Facebook. Always think, what frame of mind are people in when using these sites. If on Facebook, they are likely socialising and therefore less responsive to business related discussion and messages. If on LinkedIn, most are there for business, and are happy to discuss business issues. Not saying you go into LinkedIn with all guns blazing trying to sell, but being a network of professionals, people are willing to discuss and contribute to business topics.

      • Exactly what I would’ve said Jason! Thanks for joining in the discussion. :-)

      • Exactly what I would’ve said Jason! Thanks for joining in the discussion. :-)

      • Anonymous

        I also think organisational goals have a huge part to play as opposed to the type of firm. An instance where a B2B company would go on Facebook as opposed to LinkedIn would be when they are targeting Graduate Recruitment. Their goal in this instance will be to have a larger pool of entry level candidates, and I’ve seen successful cases as this particular market is on Facebook more often.

  • If a company developed a strategy that attracted a bazillion fans, I agree it requires more questions. However, it I’m not sure I’d rule out a company simply because they helped a brand acquire a high volume of fans. Maybe they have some good ideas?

    • Scott- Definitely not saying you should rule out a company because they have generated a lot of fans, but that shouldn’t be the only criteria. I would ask how the volume of fans contributed to the company’s business goals, next. Thanks so much for commenting!

  • Sarah Allen

    Absadoodly agree and I’ll be posting this link up to my Bookface page http://www.facebook.com/sarahallenconsulting this morning. Well said, and love a bit of cheeky in a post too :)
    Sarah Allen 
    http://www.sarahallenconsulting.com.au

  • Sarah Allen

    Absadoodly agree and I’ll be posting this link up to my Bookface page http://www.facebook.com/sarahallenconsulting this morning. Well said, and love a bit of cheeky in a post too :)
    Sarah Allen 
    http://www.sarahallenconsulting.com.au

    • Sarah – Thanks so much! I’m thrilled you enjoyed the post. :-) Love it…Bookface!

  • A socially dialed in article. Thank you Nichole.

    • You’re welcome Reid. Thanks so much for commenting. 

  • Jack Silverman

    Well
    written Nichole. Social media is part of a company’s overall marketing
    strategy. You start with marketing goals and objectives. Then you listen, analyze
    and strategize.  When you’ve done all of
    that you put a plan together and follow it. 
    As far as the two-way conversations go, they can be managed by an
    off-site team but that’s after all the proper client protocols are in place to
    cover most contingencies, good and bad.  Buyer
    beware, there are lots of “snake oil” sales people out there, do your homework.

    • Jack – Thanks for commenting! Great stuff…keep it coming!

  • I am a 6 year employee of my company and it took me 3 years to learn how to successfully speak to our audience and make a long term plan and commitment to our Facebook page, which has only become useful since I focused almost all of my free time in interacting with our fans, rather than just speaking at them – talking to them about what they want to see and how they want to see it.  But I know the product very well so that is why it is so successful also – a 3rd party may have disconnects with our goals.   I have additional plans of implementation once I can get some support, but I love your points and am now less worried about getting Twitter, LinkedIn, & YouTube off the belt because we are getting such great feedback with our Facebook.  I’m going to stay focused on what is working currently and slowly implement the other sites as necessary based on feedback and plan of execution.  Thanks, this is worth the read. 

    • Megan – I’m so glad to hear you are focusing on what is working. I am a huge believer in doing one thing well before you jump into something else. I am so excited to hear that your learning experience has been valuable and you are starting to see traction! Keep us updated on your progress! I’m working on some case studies if you are interested in sharing, please send me a note. http://fullfrontalroi.com/contact/

  • Shiniga Ratish

    Good article. I am trying to get to know more about Social Media and tips and strategies to use it as a part of my work. I am a search engine optimizer. This article makes me a bit nervous though, since am venturing newly into this field. Hoping that am not misguided and that am understanding it in the right way.  Any tips for this new comer? 

    • Shiniga – My first tip would be not to believe everything you read and put it through your standard BS detector like you would for SEO content. :-) When in doubt ask others in the space, they’ll tell you whether it’s legit or not.

  • Pingback: “Social Media Expert” = Putting the “Moron” in “Oxymoron”? | LOHAD - random rumblings on marketing and more()

  • When anyone tells me he/she is a social media marketing “guru” I always run the other way. If a respected member of the SMM community refers to a colleague as a guru, I perk up.

  • When anyone tells me he/she is a social media marketing “guru” I always run the other way. If a respected member of the SMM community refers to a colleague as a guru, I perk up.

  • Anonymous

    Nichole-

    I enjoyed this article. So called “social media experts” and “social media gurus” have sprouted up quickly…and falsely I might add. I wrote a similar post as yours on Friday, albeit a bit more snarky and less actionable. My post speaks to the self-proclaimed social media expert and how their expert status is questionable at best.

    http://www.getbusymedia.com/you-think-you%E2%80%99re-a-social-media-%E2%80%9Cexpert%E2%80%9D%E2%80%A6-nah/

    • Jim – Thank so much for sharing. I’ll definitely check your piece out. A little snark never hurt anyone. :-)

  • Great stuff. But I don’t agree that Social Marketing is just another tool in the tool belt. Its a shift in the way all marketing and business is done.
    Social networks are just new tools in the tool belt.
    But excellent Social Marketing requires a new philosophy for business and a fundamental change in the way you do all of your marketing.

  • Hire somebody who knows something about best business practice and integrated marketing, preferably in your industry. That general experience is of more value than being fascinated with the latest shiny social media tools and other hot “awesomeness” in the social networking space. Sound, realistic strategy comes before all that and is of more value than a track record of tactical campaigns.

  • This is so spot on! I have had conversations with business owners who swear that they need to be on every social network because some “expert” said fb or twitter is necessary for them. It really does depend on the industry and what you are looking to gain from using social media. 
    The other point that stood out was the idea of it being “effortless”. How can u control the message your “expert” is putting out there if there is no effort or communication? I agree with this post so much, I wish I could shove it in a few ppls face, lol!

    • Thanks Well Done! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. I’m hoping more companies that are looking for a provider will find this post and it will help them hire someone who has their best interests at heart. :-) 

  • Anonymous

    Nichole, I liked your article and when I clicked on your name to read more, I got a 404 page: 
    It said: You 404’d it. Gnarly, dude.
    http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/social-media-marketing/hiring-a-social-media-agency-read-this-first/nichole_kelly

  • Anonymous

    Nichole, I liked your article and when I clicked on your name to read more, I got a 404 page: 
    It said: You 404’d it. Gnarly, dude.
    http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/social-media-marketing/hiring-a-social-media-agency-read-this-first/nichole_kelly

    • That’s gonna be a site issue and my fault. Oops. Thanks for pointing it out.
      We’re on it!

  • Mreynolds

    Megha, there is no silver bullet in success. It takes a great deal of hardwork. I work with many business owners and corporate executives in my work and while everyone wants one, there is no substitute for understanding customers and providing value–social media is just one tool of many.

    • Mreynolds – So true! Thanks for supporting the conversation today!

  • Thank you for this very honest assessment of the changing marketplace. I am going to share this post with all my new clients.

    • Fran – Thank you so much for sharing the post. I’m very honored. :-)

  •  I am happy to see you wrote this post. I feel like so many business owners today have drank the “social media lemonade”.  They talk about how if they can just get their social media going then they can turn their business around.  It is as though many folks who don’t understand the fundamentals of marketing assume that social media is the triage treatment that will solve their business woes.

    • Megha – You are welcome. I’m so glad you got something out of the content. You are absolutely right on, that a lot of companies think social media is a “solution” to their problem. When many times social media may help cure some of the symptoms, but ultimately it’s more likely to highlight the problem in a very public way instead. It’s a risky venture if there are problems that need to be addressed first.

  • Thank you for this. This is absolutely right and honestly just sort of the tip of the iceberg of new problems marketers are coming into.

    • Jenn- You’re welcome. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I’m thrilled that you enjoyed the post.

  • Provocative post! Thank you. I agree with many of the listed points in the post as well as with many of the comments left.

    I believe good marketing communication starts between client and consultant and then, makes it’s way to the customer. An agency walking into a established brand may face certain cultural challenges, while a consultant working with a developing brand may face resource challenges. So, in my experience, the rules of my early production days still apply… A client will always want a GOOD, CHEAP, FAST product. Our job is always to whittle that dream into a realistic, comprehensive plan that yields results.

    • Angel – Do you have wings on? :-) Seriously, I love how you relate back to the good, cheap, fast product and highlight our role to steer them into the realistic plan that will yield the results they actually want. I agree 100%. It is our responsibility to show clients why what they “want” may not be what they actually “need” right now. How many times has someone asked for a Facebook page when they really needed to get their website in order first? Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Thanks for the well thought out article. It’s hard to find those flags when we’re constantly pummeled with marketing “data” if the “data” doesn’t mean results then people can be lead astray very easily. As I’ve built my social media up over the last 9 months I’ve found that true user engagement is the real key to getting the clients to invest in you as well. You really have to be a part of it. Simply handing over your social media to someone else is like hiring a robo-caller for cold calls. Consultants and social media companies who handle your business need to be actively engaged on your behalf. Clicks, views, and likes don’t translate to dollars. I’d rather have 100 active followers than 10,000 people who hit like then ignore because they tried to win an ipod. 

    • I really like you Austin Realtor! These are fantastic points. The quality of the following versus the quantity, measuring impact to bottom line, engaging with the audience instead of expecting some one else to, all truly core points companies should consider. Thank you so much for sharing. I’d love to hear more about how you are measuring these items. I’m working on a few case studies now. Shoot me a message please. http://fullfrontalroi.com/contact/

  • Mreynolds

    Great blog. So true. I consider myself a social media neophyte for the very reason I use it every day and what I don’t know far exceeds what I do know. Some of what I know I don’t have time to deploy. Social media changes almost daily and the two big questions everyone should ask is: What kind of ROI can I expect (not fans and followers) and How can I integrate it into my existing marketing strategy? I am still asking and trying to answer these questions for myself.

    My question is for you is what is the best way to engage midsize company CEO’s? They are pretty protected from most social media although they might use facebook for personal reasons. They are not surfing the net or spending time tweeting or even discovering new blogs. I do use Linked in although I could probably use it better. Thoughts?

    • P J Roberts

      I just commented on a headline on Linkedin about distracted driving that generated a whole bunch of other comments. Contrast that with my business FB page where no one ever comments. Go figure. Linkedin is getting more social, but generates more interaction, at least for my business. 

    • Great question! And the two questions you ask are the exact questions I always ask as well. What could the potential ROI be and what marketing strategies and goals will social help us to achieve. Love it! 

      Here is my perspective on executive buy in. There are two parts, the first is the big question of how do I get my CEO to “use” social channels. If the CEO isn’t already involved in social media channels and isn’t personally interested in trying it out, they probably won’t be good at it or ever really “get it.”  So I wouldn’t spend a lot of time trying to get them to do it, rather I would focus on other individuals in the organization who are passionate and already using the tools. The second is to get executives to “understand” social and have buy-in. At the end of the day CEO’s want to understand the return. Show them the potential return to the organization and the progress along the way and that’s all they generally care to know. CEO’s don’t typically get granular enough to need to understand the ins and outs of email marketing to invest in it and social isn’t any different. They know you send emails to your prospects and customers to help convert leads and retain customers. Show them the goal you are working to achieve and all of the things you are doing to support it. Social is an item on that list. If social media is the only item that is listed to achieve a goal, the goal may have been created for the benefit of social media, not with the purpose of achieving an organizational objective.

      If you are in a regulated industry, you will certainly have to go into more detail to show how you are maintaining compliance as you would with any marketing channel or new marketing initiative.

      That’s just my perspective. I’m sure there are others and I’d love to hear them!

  • Oh, wow. THANK YOU Nicole, for writing this. I can only hope that companies will learn faster in order to avoid being scammed by “Social Media Snake Oil Salesmen”. 

    Sadly and without exaggerating, I’d say 90% (if not more) of the “Social Media Experts/Consultants/Whatever” I know (At least in my area – Cancun,Mx) fall exactly within the points you’ve described.

    Thank you for giving us -the ones who are “fighting the good fight” by taking time to actually learn how to do things right- solid points to present to clients.

    Regards from Cancun :)

    • Camilo – Thanks so much for commenting. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! I’m all for anything that helps companies select a good provider. :-)

  • I would disagree with your third and fifth points. With regard to your third point, “we’ll take care of it for you,” an agency who has a longstanding relationship with a client and knows their customer base inside-and-out has the chops to respond to and engage with customers in the social media space… and because they have the experience of working in that space, often better understand the nuances of HOW to respond to and engage with customers to achieve the client’s desired result. As to  your fifth point, an agency who has been learning from, engaging with and experiencing success in social media for several years can back up the “experienced team” statement… and are humble enough to say what worked, what didn’t and why. 

    Of course, if a social media strategist makes ALL the claims you warn against above, then the red flag should be blowing in the wind! And certainly, a good social media consultant welcomes the opportunity to consult and collaborate, rather than simply direct. 

    Perhaps a good follow up to this piece should be, “The Questions to Ask a Social Media Agency,” and should include a list of questions clients can ask their prospective SM experts. Knowing what questions to ask (and what answers to run screaming from… ) may be more effective barometer for sniffing out an SM charlatan. 

    • Lauren – I certainly respect that you don’t agree with every point. :-) I think there are situations were an agency with a long-standing relationship can help to manage the channels. In that situation the agency has obviously had some sort of training, which is why I asked how much training would be required before you allowed someone to answer your customer service line. I totally agree that a good agency will tell you about their experience candidly. The reality is that if they’ve been working in social media spaces with clients for the last 3 years or so, they will have tangible examples versus someone who has been doing it for 6 months or less.

      I agree that a questions post would be great! I wrote one more in that fashion awhile ago that could start the discussion on questions to ask. http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/online-public-relations/is-your-agency-social-you-better-find-out-soon/

      Thanks for sharing! You’re perspective is awesome!

  • I advise taking a look at how consultants use social media themselves.

    Do they have a consistent presence or, are there spikes in activity that coincide with other efforts to promote their “social [media] services?”  You’ll want to know that they don’t just practice what they preach, but believe it. — Rather than being in a novelty/novelty-wearing-off cycle.

    Is a brand (or soul) apparent in their posts and tweets? What sort of interaction do they have with fans, followers and peers? Pure self-promotion and sterile, basic information, straight out of a text or somebody else’s article says social media is just another base to cover. You don’t need to pay someone for posting that sort of content. YOU can do that much.

    Do they actively manage it? I wouldn’t pay someone to manage my Twitter account who doesn’t seem to know who’s following them — or they’re following back (indicating a reliance on automation tools). I’ve seen consultants with adult sites and spammers among their followers or follow-ees. Either they think raw numbers matter most or they’re not paying attention. Neither one is good and, if one thinks monitoring that sort of thing is “too much” or a hassle, they should not be charging for social media management.

  • Anonymous

    Charlatans succeed because their “marks” are too embarrassed to admit they don’t know everything, and therefore demand straight talk. Look for a statement that begins, “As I’m sure someone as intelligent as you knows … ” followed by egregious nonsense. As the “adcontrarian.blogspot.com” says, “There’s no bigger sucker than a gullible marketer convinced he’s missing a trend.”

    • LOL…I love this addition! Make the prospect feel like they are an uniformed idiot if they don’t agree with you. Classic! Thanks for sharing. 

    • LOL…I love this addition! Make the prospect feel like they are an uniformed idiot if they don’t agree with you. Classic! Thanks for sharing. 

  • Anonymous

    Charlatans succeed because their “marks” are too embarrassed to admit they don’t know everything, and therefore demand straight talk. Look for a statement that begins, “As I’m sure someone as intelligent as you knows … ” followed by egregious nonsense. As the “adcontrarian.blogspot.com” says, “There’s no bigger sucker than a gullible marketer convinced he’s missing a trend.”

  • Here! Here! to a get synopsis and may I add Social Media cannot be measured as another false claim. I especially loved the last one about “social media is the only marketing strategy you need.” Locally here in Northwest Indiana, I have seen one so called social media expert tweet and FB this claim on several occasions.

    • Two good additions, Leanne. Hurts my ears when I hear crap like that… ‘no plan?!’ As if. 

      • No plan? Yikes. Sort of like a pilot saying no nav system… :-O

        • Thank you Leanne, Davina and Angel! I didn’t include social media measurement in this because I didn’t want it to come off as self-promoting, but you are absolutely correct! I hear this all the time and many times it is simply because people don’t know “how” to measure or are not accustomed to being held accountable to results. In today’s day and age this simply is not going to cut it. In the Marketing Sherpa report they noted that 74% of CMO’s feel that they will be able to measure social media to tangible ROI this year. I’m certainly doing my best to shed light on this space in particular. :-) 

  • I absolutely agree with you! You make very good points with your list of red flags.

  • Phil Taylor

    SEO “experts” are a dime a dozen,as are the newly-minted Social Media experts. The simplest way to judge is to see the so-called experts own website or blog. Most don’t rank well at all. The best way to do SEO is by yourself; only you can see what works. A good site, with a valuable product or content will eventually “float” to the top. Traffic will drive the SERP.

  • Phil Taylor

    SEO “experts” are a dime a dozen,as are the newly-minted Social Media experts. The simplest way to judge is to see the so-called experts own website or blog. Most don’t rank well at all. The best way to do SEO is by yourself; only you can see what works. A good site, with a valuable product or content will eventually “float” to the top. Traffic will drive the SERP.

    • Phil – There is definitely a lot of snake oil in SEO and I would love to see a post on how to identify a good provider. There are a lot of companies searching and due to the technical nature of the service, they have no idea what questions to ask or how to evaluate providers. Thanks for sharing.

    • Phil – There is definitely a lot of snake oil in SEO and I would love to see a post on how to identify a good provider. There are a lot of companies searching and due to the technical nature of the service, they have no idea what questions to ask or how to evaluate providers. Thanks for sharing.

  • Amen.  I think experienced marketers may have taken a while to wrap their heads around the social phenomenon from the last few years. But when the dust settles how long will it take social media gurus to catch up on the 20-30 years of successful marketing experience that they lack?

    • @ShadC

      Good point Jami! At the end of the day, using social media effectively requires what great marketing has always required – solid methodology and research that results in a true understanding of your audience, which enables genuine/sincere interaction, that ultimately produces hard and soft dollar benefits/results (build brand equity, drive sales, show thought leadership, etc.). Experienced marketers that continue to evolve and work hard to stay sharp will always have an advantage against less experienced marketers and seasoned marketers that believe they can simply rest on theIr laurels.

      • Jami and ShadC – I agree 100%, the best social media strategies come from a place of sound business strategy first. It seems like “traditional” marketing is considered passe these days, but if you really look into a lot of the great case studies we have for social media you see that it was an integrated approach that included social media and other traditional marketing channels. If social media brings an opportunity to the door, it is traditional marketing and sales that converts it into revenue. Thanks so much for sharing!

      • Jami and ShadC – I agree 100%, the best social media strategies come from a place of sound business strategy first. It seems like “traditional” marketing is considered passe these days, but if you really look into a lot of the great case studies we have for social media you see that it was an integrated approach that included social media and other traditional marketing channels. If social media brings an opportunity to the door, it is traditional marketing and sales that converts it into revenue. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Nichole, I appreciate the manner in which you approached this.  While it’s been common to call out social media experts for some time, you called out everyone (including corporations and agencies), gave specific things to look for, and actually moved forward the conversation without smearing everyone involved. 

    It’s almost as as if your point was to address the concerns of how to pay for certain aspects of social media, and not a vague, passive aggressive swipe at people to build credibility.

    More please.  

     

    • Thanks Jim. You absolutely tapped into the sentiment that was intended for the post. Thanks for sharing and I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. 

  • Lisa

    Thank you for a great article! I was just trying to explain this to a someone last week. As for some comments below about negatives, I know how frustrating it can be when expectations are not managed well.

    • Thanks Lisa! I’m thrilled that you enjoyed the post. :-)

  • Superstar

    I’m so tired of blog like this. It seems like the best way a so-called expert can strengthen their chops these days is to call out the other so-called experts. Meanwhile people working to do this every day for real clients with real expectations have to deal with a stew of idiots, wannabes, bloggers, mouth-breathers, self-published slackers and other general knuckleheaders. Looks like from her LinkedIn that super strategist Nichole is just a few years removed from selling paint. 

  • Superstar

    I’m so tired of blog like this. It seems like the best way a so-called expert can strengthen their chops these days is to call out the other so-called experts. Meanwhile people working to do this every day for real clients with real expectations have to deal with a stew of idiots, wannabes, bloggers, mouth-breathers, self-published slackers and other general knuckleheaders. Looks like from her LinkedIn that super strategist Nichole is just a few years removed from selling paint. 

  • Superstar

    I’m so tired of blog like this. It seems like the best way a so-called expert can strengthen their chops these days is to call out the other so-called experts. Meanwhile people working to do this every day for real clients with real expectations have to deal with a stew of idiots, wannabes, bloggers, mouth-breathers, self-published slackers and other general knuckleheaders. Looks like from her LinkedIn that super strategist Nichole is just a few years removed from selling paint. 

    • Wow…nicely done Superstar. Yes, a few years back I managed a team that was responsible for regional marketing programs for 2200 Sherwin-Williams, Duron and MAB paint stores. Thanks for pointing it out. 

    • Jabez LeBret

      I all fairness 3 or 4 years of social media marketing experience would put someone ahead of 99% of crowd of so called “experts”.  The concept of social media marketing is just that new.  

    • SportBilly

      Social media is mostly ****shit. Anyone can be a social media “expert”, but why would you want to? Agencies and companies are starting to realize that this “thing”, is no more effective than placing an ad in the local newspaper.

      @Superstar Get off my planet!

      • Okay … a little snark is expected, but let’s remember the policy here,
        gang. Be nice … have fun.

        Disagreement is fine, but let’s keep it civil, please.

  • Excellent post – all so very true. It’s good to see a lot more content getting out about how there are no “experts”, and any individual/company who calls themselves as such should be well avoided. 

  • Excellent post – all so very true. It’s good to see a lot more content getting out about how there are no “experts”, and any individual/company who calls themselves as such should be well avoided. 

  • Excellent post – all so very true. It’s good to see a lot more content getting out about how there are no “experts”, and any individual/company who calls themselves as such should be well avoided. 

  • Guest

    Here’s another one—thinking that it’s all about social media and not commonsense business practices —I’ve met social media experts–who know nothing about business, yet they are promoting their services to businesses.

  • Guest

    Here’s another one—thinking that it’s all about social media and not commonsense business practices —I’ve met social media experts–who know nothing about business, yet they are promoting their services to businesses.

  • Guest

    Here’s another one—thinking that it’s all about social media and not commonsense business practices —I’ve met social media experts–who know nothing about business, yet they are promoting their services to businesses.

    • That is certainly an issue. Another common one is the prevalence of a complete lack of marketing experience. To be effective social media should be a “piece” of your marketing strategy, if you don’t understand the core tenants of marketing how can you be successful? Thanks for commenting.

  • Rhymes with ‘smash hole’ – heh. Experience can be tricky; everyone has to start somewhere.  That said, I’m also wary of the ‘experience’ pitch, if someone’s claiming 10 years I really want to see example of their blog or a digital campaign from 2001. The MUST is a big no for me: the you “HAVE to be on this site” or “you gotta do this OR ELSE” or “ONLY SM can save you” are all major red flags. Not a silver bullet indeed. OMG the ‘effortless’ ploy.. the “set it and forget it” automation mentality. I take it as a warning from would-be clients as well, when they want that, don’t realize or want to put in the work required. FWIW.

  • Rhymes with ‘smash hole’ – heh. Experience can be tricky; everyone has to start somewhere.  That said, I’m also wary of the ‘experience’ pitch, if someone’s claiming 10 years I really want to see example of their blog or a digital campaign from 2001. The MUST is a big no for me: the you “HAVE to be on this site” or “you gotta do this OR ELSE” or “ONLY SM can save you” are all major red flags. Not a silver bullet indeed. OMG the ‘effortless’ ploy.. the “set it and forget it” automation mentality. I take it as a warning from would-be clients as well, when they want that, don’t realize or want to put in the work required. FWIW.

    • Davina – Thank you so much for bringing this up! The reality is that most people in social media aren’t going to have 10 years of experience in social media especially as it relates to applying it to achieve business objectives. However, they should have a strong and solid marketing background followed by tangible results from social media over the last few years. Great point!

    • I also have a huge bone to pick with “experts” who seem to advocate fire and forget modes. I see this happening all the time in the tweet stream of brands where there are zero mentions or even retweets….just a relentless narcissistic broadcast.

      • It’s selling ‘easy’ to clients who just want to broadcast and hope someone’s listening. That is not social. I get followed by brands and SMBs, and I’ll see their streams exactly as you describe and think ‘they’re doing it wrong’ b/c I just don’t believe they’re getting leads, customers, sales from their relentless narcissistic broadcasts. 

    • I also have a huge bone to pick with “experts” who seem to advocate fire and forget modes. I see this happening all the time in the tweet stream of brands where there are zero mentions or even retweets….just a relentless narcissistic broadcast.

  •  Great write up Kelly! Social media is  a great way to connect with potential customers i feel you had some bad experiences with the marketers.

    • Hi there – Thanks for commenting. Quite the contrary, my experiences have been largely positive. :-)

  • Steve Hibberd

    Some good common sense points and insights in your article, however I think your tone undermines them a little. It appears you must have had some bad recent experiences and are attempting to take out your frustrations a little.

    Once an organisation has properly assessed where there target audience is on social media, and established a plan as to how they’d like to engage throughout the customer lifecycle, the who does what of all the tasks/thinking involved on an ongoing basis is a BIG question.

    I also think that social media involvement is often thought of as customer focused as per my comment above. There are all the other stakeholders who can engage, and the platforms that may be considered I.e. Yammer for employees

    You’re right it’s a big task properly assessing how to integrate and leverage social media channels to achieve real business results, something that requires expertise, just could have been a slightly more credible and more readily shared article had it not had the frustrated undertone that came across a little angsty if I can create a word.

    • Steve – Thank you so much for your perspective. It’s interesting because I actually haven’t had bad experiences, but certainly understand that tone is difficult to translate in a written document. I actually laughed a lot while writing this post because to me the red flags were really funny, but everyone certainly interprets things differently. For example, that’s why I selected the picture I did. I’ll certainly take your feedback into consideration for my future posts. :-) 

    • Steve – Thank you so much for your perspective. It’s interesting because I actually haven’t had bad experiences, but certainly understand that tone is difficult to translate in a written document. I actually laughed a lot while writing this post because to me the red flags were really funny, but everyone certainly interprets things differently. For example, that’s why I selected the picture I did. I’ll certainly take your feedback into consideration for my future posts. :-) 

  • Nice post. Everthing you mentioned Nichole is so true. Thanks.  

    • Thanks Reginald! I appreciate you taking the time to comment. 

  • umutbu

    Actually you told above: Look for the marketing knowledge with great understanding on dynamics of online playground…

  • Anonymous

    there is absolutely nothing new here….the generalities here can apply to any area of expertise. I find it ironic that so many “experts” are telling us how to spot “fakes”.

    • Thanks for commenting! I’m sorry that you didn’t enjoy the article. Maybe next time. :-)

    • Thanks for commenting! I’m sorry that you didn’t enjoy the article. Maybe next time. :-)

  • Searching for any company to do any job does require research. If you are going to hire someone to build you a house, you’re going to look at your options. The same goes for social media, the only problem here is that it’s such a young market. Social media hasn’t been around very long and it’s really only been in the last couple of years that companies have started using it to their advantage. I agree fully with this article and believe that our radio show “How a Digital Marketing Agency Helps You Grow Your Business” would be a great listen for anyone interested in this topic. Listen at: http://www.snaptech.com/radio-show-archives.asp

  • Morgan Zuehlke

    Anybody else get a virus from visiting this web page? Everyone in my office who has gone to this has had their computers crash.

    • I’ll have my team look into this but please email me more details.
      Nothing wrong on my end that I can tell. Jason@socialmediaexplorer.com

    • Aaron

      Yes, I was alerted that Kapersky blocked an attempted attack.

    • Aaron

      Yes, I was alerted that Kapersky blocked an attempted attack.

  • I believe and support what you’ve written and as I begin to offer my services, its with these same principle in mind I’ll be guided. Thanks! You mentioned “The best tip I can give you is to ask for specific examples and references.” Immediately I thought, what does one do if they’re just getting started as a Social Media Coach? Obviously no examples and references are available to show. We all have to start somewhere, how do you explain the absence of “examples and references” to a prospective customer?

    • To get started I recommend that you work with someone who is more experienced and has relevant client examples that can teach you the rope. I totally understand how tough it is when you are starting out and looking for experience, but it is important to learn with a mentor. Otherwise, you are likely to make mistakes on the company’s dime that will impact their reputation and that’s not really fair. The other option is to make yourself your own test case. Build up your own audience and prove that it works for you, then it is more realistic to think you can do it for others. I hope this helps! Thanks so much for commenting.

      • Great advice, it really does help. Thanks again!

  • MacLeod33

    My favorite part of the post is that the “pimp” you’ve pictured is a professional poker player with a PhD in computer science from UCLA:

    http://www.chrisferguson.com/bio

    • LOL…Gotta love creative commons licenses on Flickr! Maybe he’ll stop by and comment. :-) For the record, I think he’s pretty fly for a computer guy.

      • MacLeod33

        Just busting your chops. Great post! 

      • MacLeod33

        Just busting your chops. Great post! 

  • Sometimes ts better to turn over the hassle of building a social site because its time consuming and other people are much more social driven then you..so it is smart to let someone else take over this.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

    • Perhaps building a social website…yes. But engaging on it…no

      • Anonymous

        I totally agree Nichole.

  • OMG! @Stacey_Alex:twitter shared this great College Humor video that completely describes what this post is all about! I wish I had seen it when I was writing. I totally would’ve embedded for your viewing pleasure. Check it out! http://www.collegehumor.com/video/6507690/hardly-working-start-up-guys Thanks for the laugh Stacey!