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‘Expert’ advice in question with some social media consultants (access required)

By Austin Light CHARLOTTE — When the economy slumps, the consultants come out to do business, according to Chuck Bamford, professor of entrepreneurship and strategy at Queens University’s McColl School of Business. “They’ll never tell you this, but a lot of them are just doing it until they get a full-time job again,” he said. With social media becoming as buzz-worthy as “green,” consultants and self-professed experts are popping up all over Charlotte to help clients demystify Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools. Corey Creed, president of Hippo Internet Marketing Training, is an active member of Charlotte’s social media scene. He estimates that of all the people offering social media consulting services, about two-thirds are legitimate. “Just being good at using social media is different than teaching a business how to use it,” Creed said. “You don’t hire someone that just uses it.”

15 comments

  1. Thanks again for contacting me on this, Austin. It’s a popular topic right now, for sure.

    For small businesses, get a little training and/or advice and just jump in. For large businesses, they really need a strategy. They need the best advice they can find.

    The only part of this article that I may not agree with is…

    “Don’t go into business for yourself just because you can’t find a job.”

    I don’t know about that one. Personally, I think more and more employees are going to be moving more toward freelancing. Many of them may initially do so because they lost their job in the rough economy this year. It may be a very good decision for them, regardless of why they made it initially. (Just a thought.)

  2. Pretty good article on the ‘new gurus’ that are popping up around CLT.

    This is what’s going on with SEO (Search Engine Optimization). There are a lot of ‘experts’ who rank just for their business name, and consider themselves a SEO Expert.

    Learning how to use the SM tools isn’t that hard, but having no marketing experience will render those tools useless. Marketing experience in very competitive niches can help you bring out the full potential of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other SM tools.

  3. Amazing:
    “The eight-week course costs between $2,795 and $2,995, depending on an individual’s level of ISMA membership, which ranges from free to $24.95 per month for “platinum.””

    Whomever is first to market a certification can grab a lot of money.
    If I was in the ‘carpet cleaning’ business and decided to one day change careers and spend 2800 on that, does it make me a ‘Certified SMO Expert’? No.

    Also, just because you have 20K followers doesn’t make you an expert either. There are hundreds of ‘Twitter tools” available that you can use to gather followers, i.e. only following people that are auto followers.

    As Corey said, its a good discussion to have, and one that business owners need to be aware of when selecting a professional in the field.

    Keith

  4. I’m surprised of the suggestion to ‘Google a person’, if they’re not found then it’s a red flag.

    This is FAR from the truth of a Social Media Company or Consultant.

    Google is a search engine which means you will need SEO Search Engine Optimization NOT Social Media. Not finding a social media company on Google shows that they lack in SEO not Social Media.

  5. The biggest red flag for me is when someone actually uses the word ‘expert.’

    No one should claim to be a ‘Social Media Expert.’

  6. Generally speaking, I don’t think anyone should call themselves an expert on anything. It just sounds haughty. Yet, people call other people experts quite often in most any field.

    Granted, it’s mostly determined by opinion, not qualitatively. But that applies for almost any skill or ability. My idea of an “expert car mechanic” is probably different than others. (I can barely change my oil.)

    Everything changes quickly on the Internet. Yet, I personally feel there are some social media experts out there (not me). Others may feel differently.

  7. You are incorrect Robert.

    Google “Brandon Uttley” and review the first 50 results. The results make it very clear he is someone heavily involved with Social Media.

    I guarantee you the amount of time he spent on SEO is ZERO!

    And while on the subject, I believe over time that Social Media will become a major signal for ranking in search engines. So by default, social media professionals will be “doing SEO” by simply doing their job.

  8. That’s SEO and hardly anything to do with Social Media :)

    Those sites are optimized for SEO, and of course have great authority.
    Either way they are ranking because of SEO not Social Media.

    So how do you know Brandon Uttley opened those accounts or if he used a service like ‘Knowem.com’

    http://knowem.com/ has over 340 Social Media sites, and I paid them some $$ they can register 340 accounts in my name, and all those sites are probably optimized for SEO and have some authority.

    So I guess having lots of Social Media accounts shows either

    1. You like to go on Social Media sites
    2. You’re using a service like Knowem

    Either way…it has nothing to do with that the individual is qualified or ‘red flagged’ for not having any internet presence in the Search Engines.

  9. Robert, social media and SEO go together like peanut butter and jelly, and anyone who doesn’t realize this yet is missing out on a lot of opportunities.

    And no, I’m not the lazy type of person who would pay a fee on a site like Knowem.com, just to “instantly” join a bunch of social media sites. Unlike a lot of other people, I have actually taken the time to sign up on many sites manually, personally, in order to learn them first-hand. And I never advise anyone else to take the easy way out, either.

    Googling someone remains, in my opinion, one of the best ways to quickly discern someone’s expertise. Of course, it behooves anyone to find their website (if you can) and get in touch with some of their references to go beyond mere search engine results.

    David is correct–I did not “do” SEO per se, but in the process of using highly ranked social media sites, I have achieved significant rankings on Google. Most SEO experts are starting to recognize the benefits of using social media sites in addition to other traditional SEO techniques.

  10. “Just Google the person,” Uttley said. “You should be able to find them and the things they’ve done easily. If not, that’s a red flag.”

    This is the statement that I disputed. I do agree with Google being the best way to find someone, but to say it’s a ‘red flag’ if you don’t find a Social Media person maybe a bit exaggerated. I guess I’m not getting how you’re even able to determine if someone is a Social Media person if they CAN be found on Google. You may find them on LinkedIn, and may even find the clients they worked with (inputted by user). Again….not seeing how this would show any experience with Social Media.

    I do agree that ‘marketing or public relations’ should be a background to have. There are many SM tools that we can use but if you have no marketing experience you wouldn’t know what to do with them. Those that have no marketing or public relations background SHOULD BE the red flag to look for.

    Learning to use twitter, facebook, and other SM sites may take 1-2 days for some, and maybe a couple of weeks for most.

    Learning to market may take
    1. 4yr degree
    2. Owning/operating a business the relies heavily on marketing
    3. Experience with competitive niches in using online strategies with viral content, video, linkbait, etc.

    Learning to market is a lot harder than learning to use SM tools/platform.

    BTW Brandon just debating with you :)

    Years of marketing/public relations that you hold IS what sets YOU apart from all those wannabe “Social Media Experts” :) IMHO

  11. Robert,

    The point of my quote (made, BTW, during a very brief phone interview :) was that a lot of people are promoting themselves as “social media experts” for various reasons, when they don’t really have the background or knowledge to effectively market a product or service. So if someone has been approached by one of these “experts,” searching for them on Google, Twitter and other sites should give some indication about whether they really have strong capabilities or not. Notice my other example of a “social media expert” who presented a national webinar recently yet had not sent a single tweet before the call started. That is not exactly someone I want to get social media advice from–a guy who has not bothered to use the fastest-growing social media site!

    I appreciate your acknowledging that marketing is harder to learn and do than simply signing up for and using a lot of social media sites. Social media use is not a panacea, and many integrated techniques go into promoting something well online. The biggest mistake I see is thinking that the tactics of social media will make up for lack of a coherent strategy, or will mask a poor product or service in the first place. Social media is also not a quick-fix and takes a whole lot more time to utilize properly than many business people realize.

    Thanks for challenging me and adding value with your comments!

  12. In my experience, the media generally does not like to call anyone an expert. But I have found that, in practical terms, people do want to hire experts to help them accomplish specific goals. When I hire someone to help with my business, I look for someone who is confident enough to call themselves an expert at whatever I am hiring them to do. Then, I look for evidence to back that up to my satisfaction. An expert is a person with special skill or knowledge in a specific field — someone with special training and/or practice — someone especially skilled at what they do. I will feel comfortable with different levels of expertise depending on the issue. For example, I will require a higher level of expertise in the person who delivers my child than I will in the person who designs my website. But I still want someone who is an expert at it. After all, I have to use it to convey my expertise to my clients and other stakeholders. I want an Apple expert to service my MacBook, an expert at cutting curly hair to cut my crazy curly hair and an expert plumber to to fix my pipes when they burst. Whether by training, educational certification, experience or a combination of all three, I want to hire experts. When a business is at stake, the owner has a right to expect that the people hired to address a particular problem are in fact expert at it. But I see a lot of social media consultants say that they don’t like to see other social media consultants call themselves experts. I’m not sure I understand that.

  13. Donna Maria,

    You make some great points about the need to hire “experts.” I think the issue right now is, social media as we know it is so new that it’s hard to tell who really grasps it well. As Robert pointed out, finding someone with a broader depth of related marketing and PR experience may be the best advice.

  14. Interesting. I’m not quite sure where the “no one can be an expert in social media” concept started, but it does seem to be very popular – in social media, that is.

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