Lee Odden

Will the Real Social Media PR Consultant Please Stand Up?

social media consultantWhen you search Google for “social media consultant” there are about 10,600,000 search results. Yeah, really. Go check and come back.

That’s more than two times as many search results for “marketing consultant” or “pr consultant” (about 4m each). Those industries have been around a lot longer, yet the hype has attracted even more content focused on social media.

The ease of publishing online has made it correspondingly easy to lay claim to expertise that is often subject to some curious interpretation.  There are some smooth talking folks out there with great communication skills that haven’t done more than count Tweets, comments and mentions.  See the recent post, “What does social media success really look like?” for more on measuring social media success.

To me, the biggest disconnect is that being a competent user of social media sites is not really the same thing as being a competent social media marketer. Marketing implies there is an offer for a target group of customers and an intended objective. That means knowing more than how to setup a Twitter or Facebook account. It means knowing customers social behaviors and preferences, social technologies, explicit and implicit social network rules and how to measure outcomes.

social media vs. public relations

There's more search and news volume for "social media" than "public relations" since 2009! How are your social media skills PR pros?

From a PR perspective, knowing how to DM a pitch to a blogger on Twitter and social bookmark a press release are very different skills than being able to monitor a targeted group of bloggers and journalists’ social activities for moments of opportunity and being useful through social communications in the right way and when it counts. That and creating signals of credibility and influence through social content and networking for the purposes of persuasion is another set of skills outside the realm of many self-professed “experts”.

My point is that it takes more than being a “user” of social tools to influence business outcomes within a company or for clients when it comes to something like the social web. Sure, there’s a need to understand the technology and of course, being a first-hand participant gives you insight that others just jumping in won’t have. But most companies can achieve that level of experience pretty quickly on their own.

It seems to me that a Social Media Marketing or PR Consultant is far more valuable as a social technology “super user” and more importantly, a sort of social media (sociologist, social psychologist, anthropologist) as well as someone with marketing or PR skills.

Picking up on social trends & technolgies, analyzing data for insights that you can act on and being able to identify opportunities within the sheer mass of noise produced by a deluge of updates, Tweets, comments, tags, blog posts, videos, images and other social content being published every second is essential.

Is there room for competent users calling themselves social media marketing consultants that focus on helping individuals and small businesses setup social profiles? Sure there is.  Will that kind of activity help those social media neophytes become successful?

Showing up doesn’t mean you’ll win the game, so I’d say in many cases, no. It takes  more. And as time goes one, it will take even more to stand out.

Maybe I’m just being grumpy or maybe this post is just a jab at a friend who bragged about ranking on Google for “social media consultant”. 🙂  That aside, I think there are some valid points regarding user vs. professionals. What do you think?

For buyers, have you hired a consultant only to find they know just a hair more than you? Have you hired a social media consultant that was able to provide insights and strategic direction that actually facilitated business goals?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.

Comments

  1. Black Seo Guy says:

    A number of things can be achieved with social media, and the this is why people are trying to become experts to capitalize on the profits of it.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  2. When you search Google for “social media consultant” there are about 10,600,000 search results and well over half of them are articles ridiculing the term. 😉

  3. I couldn’t agree more. How can someone promise results when they don’t understand the business that the person runs? A good consultant will ask more business questions than “you got a facebook page, you need one”. Great Article.

    • Thanks and I agree, it’s a consultant’s job to be a counselor and assess plus give professional recommendations. There’s a time and place for tactical advice as well.

  4. I still show up as a social media consultant on the first page and I have not taken new clients for 18 months. I get a lot of emails from people searching for consultants. I find they are usually really looking for training or a community manager (someone to tweet, blog, etc).

    And when they ARE looking for a consultant, I have very few people I send them to because there really are very few out there doing it well.

    I think the army of consultants out there fall into the trainer and manager roles of social media, which works I think. There is a huge demand for people to help companies bridge the massive education gap in social media. If there are 100,000 people out there learning the tools really well, I think it is ok that they do not get the real marketing side of things. Let them help train businesses how to blog and tweet. Let them manage Twitter account and Facebook pages.

    When those same companies really want to see a return, then they will realize they need someone with a real marketing background.

    • Training and organizational development are other facets besides marketing. Different organizations have different needs and its a testament to early days that companies look for one thing, (social media marketing) when they really need another (social media training).

  5. I have a bit of a contrarian argument: My original career was counseling; I went to grad school to be a therapist (but did not become one.) In counseling, there’s a concept called “the presenting problem.” For example, a family shows up concerned about junior’s defiance in school, and the real problem is dad’s midlife crisis or mom’s alcoholism.

    Business also develop “presenting problems.” A nonprofit’s board and executive may believe they need “MONEY!” when their money problems can be traced to failure to communicate the mission or poor program design. A business may decide it needs a social media campaign to get the fires going when, in fact, the product line is boring.

    Even those consultants who are bona fide experts in what they do typically discover upon taking a client that “what I do” differs from what the client thinks is being done. As a new copywriter for new small businesses, I quickly learned that “copywriting” is really “marketing coaching.”

    So … I’d give some of these “social media consultants” the benefit of the doubt! One of my clients has labeled me as such, when all I’ve done for them is training. My guess is that some of the people who show up on Google pitch what sells and then vet clients for those who can use their real skills.

    • @bsaunders I think there’s some responsibility of the consultant to be honest about what they can really deliver on and refer to others what they cannot. I agree that what manifests as the issue that needs to be solved by social media consulting isn’t always the real problem. Your mention of a boring product line reminds me of, “social media doesn’t fix bad products”.

      The post above supports the notion that there is a place for tactical consulting but I do believe there is a stark difference between social media users and professionals. It’s like the difference between driving a car and racing a car. If I were in need of a professional driver, I’d want one with more robust experience than someone who is a normal driver of their own automobile.

      • I agree about being honest with a customer about what one can deliver. You can’t connect with clients in the first place, though, if you don’t call yourself what they would call you. If an individual knows that he is a valuable “marketing strategist” and that the clients he can help THINK they need a “social media consultant,” just how does this person reach those clients?

        One way is to call himself a “social media consultant,” screen for prospects that need the kind of marketing help he can provide, and give them exactly what they need – including the advice, “Before you start with social media, let’s talk about your overall plan so we can identify the right goals and the most useful social media metrics for those goals.”

        • These are the reasons my agency and our blog use the phrase “online marketing” instead of something specific like SEO, Social Media Marketing or Content Marketing. It’s an accurate, general phrase that allows us to do what you suggest – screen and make appropriate recommendations.

          I am seeing a lot of people calling themselves “social media consultant” just because its popular and not because it reflects what they do. Using that logic, people could mis-represent themselves unintentionally.

          In the end, it’s about serving clients with the right consulting and that’s what I take away from your comments. Thank you.

  6. I just noticed @mackcollier wrote a post with the exact same title: http://tprk.us/hmnMl3 I guess great minds think alike, I’m just a year late 🙂

  7. Lee, Thanks for discussing this and drawing the distinctions between self-professed social media experts who measure success by how fast they can grow a following and (professional) marketing consultants who are able to implement a strategic and holistic approach focused on measurable business value and goals. Greg

  8. Great points Lee. IMHO one of the main opportunities for organizations in the social space is to start leading the communities. Leadership of an external community requires deep cultural understanding of the specific network the organization is participating, every social network has it’s own emerging culture that is getting shaped by the participants early on. I wrote a post about his here if you’re interested:
    http://experiencecurve.com/archives/community-leadership

  9. I agree with you 100%, although I think it depends a little on the understanding of what a consultant does. If they are coming in to show the value and power of social media (essentially the nuts and bolts) to PRs who already have the deep knowledge of their product, brand, then they are adding value to the overall campaign. If they are coming in to run the show with little regard for the brand, then they aren’t adding value.

    • Good point about adding value. Every company is different and getting to know the client and their customers is key to being able to provide consulting value.

  10. Pete Carr says:

    Hi Lee,
    With the ever increasing amount of Social media management software appearing daily, will that not put an end to consultants, you would only need 1 person to manage all your accounts from one place.
    Pete

    • Automated social media? There are redundant functions and data handling that can be automated but the big piece of social content creation, promotion and relationship building isn’t something for software to handle entirely. There’s training, analysis and the actual human engagement using social technologies that requires more than one person according to the size of the company and their marketplace.

      Could 1 person with SMM software handle it for a small company? I think so.

      • Great points Lee… I think the role of “Social Media Manager” has to be viewed as a multi-faceted one. It’s a role that should be taken quite seriously. To effectively promote a business via social networking requires someone with relevant knowledge in several disciplines. This person needs to have an understanding of Business, Marketing, Advertising, Analytics, and Technology. They need not be an expert in all of these fields… but most certainly should have more than a passing knowledge of whats really involved.

        Also, let’s not forget the “Holy Grail” of business… do you have something people actually want or need?

        • Multi-faceted is right! An experienced social media manager with experience is a tough hire because there are so few with experience. Better to find high quality skills in the cross-disciplines and then train, OJT.

  11. I agree with you Lee! I think Social Media Marketing is the newest addition to Public Relations, whereas SEO is more on the marketing side. But just knowing how to set up a profile does not a strategist make. As with every profession, there are people with different levels of experience within the realm and sometimes it is hard to pick the best choice without a referral from a trusted source.

  12. Sara Sentor says:

    As an experienced SEO I would agree with your comment, ‘Showing up doesn’t mean you’ll win the game, so I’d say in many cases, no. It takes more. And as time goes one, it will take even more to stand out.’

    I have worked with small business sites so that through sheer SEO knowledge I had them ranking on page 1 [all white hat techniques] within months. However, the sites had little conversion. To make a business successful you require more than just visibility; you require a plan, a strategy that will help sales. marketing is just one step. There has a to be a goal that is met. Users may not be able to do that, true professionals thats another story!

  13. David Murray says:

    Just because I know how to drive a car, doesn’t mean I can or should be a race car driver. Skills beyond what the social media tools can do is a must for anyone who wants to do social media for a living.

  14. Mikko Rummukainen says:

    This is quite relevant for me, as I just received an offer from a ‘social media PR consultant’ who wanted me to ‘get into Social Media in 1 day!’ – for 1,490€ + VAT.

    All that ‘day of getting into Social Media’ entailed was setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts for my company, and getting a lecture on these social networks. Did I mention that the consultant’s traveling expenses were not included?

    No mention about what are the benefits of getting into these networks, or what I would end up doing in each eventually.

    So yes, being a bit baffled about the next to no-value-added from this offer, I would agree that getting results from ‘doing social media’ takes far more than just being a user – as you put it.

    What I would find useful from the client’s viewpoint is learning about the benefits the client is most concerned of, and getting clear instructions paired with feasible objectives on how to capture these benefits. And based on these kinds of offers, I’m not sure of the percentage of ‘social media PR consultants’ who are actually capable of or even interested in delivering this.

  15. Two thoughts:

    1. Popularity does not equal experience. If you have a lot of followers or a popular Blog, it does not mean that you have experience and knowledge to do this for others (especially in other industries).

    2. I find it increasingly frustrating that people consider me a “guru” or an “expert” just because I use this particular media channel to learn, share and grow. Nobody considers me a newspaper expert because I have a regular column or because I read a lot of them.

    • Thanks for reading/commenting Mitch.

      1. Results = experience in my opinion. If a consultant walks the talk and resonates with a community, then it’s icing on the cake. But demonstrating previous advice that affected business outcomes is what matters. I agree that popularity alone is nothing more than a demonstration of self promotion.

      2. In the spirit of Flashmobs, it may be an interesting experiment to organize calling other professionals guru for a day. 🙂

      But seriously, if you write a book, write a newspaper column and often give keynote speeches, you’re setting yourself up to be considered an authority which equals “guru” or “expert” to most people. I appreciate the humbleness of your comment, but I’m respectfully calling BS on that. I simply find it hard to believe that you’d be frustrated by an outcome your efforts are designed to produce.

      • True enough. I’ve said for a long while that there’s a huge chasm between those who are given the title of “guru” or “expert” by people we would consider “credible” compared to being self-anointed. The challenge is that the self-anointed have take over the asylum, so if someone gives me that title, it makes me cringe because of the association to the self-anointed.Also, if it was just writing a book, speaking and having a successful Blog, I could see where you’re coming from. I just wish people would see the 130+ staff over two offices we have and the world-class brands we work with… and that’s not just me. There are plenty of credible and experienced professionals (who get results) that do get lumped in with the self-anointed. Sadly.

  16. I cringe when people outside my industry want to call me a ‘guru’ – THEY all seem enamored with the term, but it makes me feel dirty. My company just so happens to zero in on a specific type of work on social networking platforms (among other things). I don’t call my dentist a ‘guru’.

  17. One of my personal niggles about self professed ‘Social Media Experts’ is when the person making the claim has only a couple of years real world experience. “I’m young therefore I geddit – right?”. I suppose you could argue it if you’ve just come out of university with a degree in the subject – but that just means you’re an academic. If you’re only 25 but have been doing a job for several years in an established marketing agency who can teach you how to develop strategy properly, then maybe I’ll buy it – but a lot of them don’t.

    • There is little substitute for actual experience and further, the experience of having affected business outcomes in a positive way, numerous times.

  18. Absolutely! You are 150% correct. This is the same reason why I find is so frustrating that to save a penny, companies will hire interns or students right out of college to “lead the Social Media effort” because they merely have utilized the platforms in their college lives.

    Great article….thanks!

    • Glad you liked it Sarah. Agreed, those recent grads would be great for a social training program but the need to be experienced with sales, customer service, marketing and business overall isn’t something one picks up from an internship. Or at least not in the short term. Social is a team effort anyway and there are things that less experienced people can do – leadership of social needs to be run by a business leader.

  19. Couldn’t agree more, Lee. It’s awful hard to learn Karate from a book; social media is quite similar.

  20. Any business space with a low cost to entry will be teaming with hucksters, wannabees, and quick-buck artists. We saw it for over a decade in the pre-Social Media Web business. All one needed was a little more knowledge of the Web than most business owners/decision makers, a cheap PC, a copy of Front page, a pirated version of Photoshop and a shareware FTP program, and they were in business.

    With Social Media most of the tools are free, so it’s even less for someone to hang out a shingle proclaiming themselves as a Social Media “consultant,” and because the buzz is so huge, businesses are looking for someone…anyone…who is an expert.

    Just as the dot com crash and the last recession purged out many of the web guys that needed to go, there’s an inevitable culling of the herd on the horizon in the Social Media space. And it can’t come a moment too soon.

  21. Good post Lee. I agree that you need to be more than just a user, but this is still such a new industry that I think people are struggling to see why they should hire someone with expertise as they feel that they can learn it all – there is a bit of mentality of “how hard can it be”, but as you say it is not just using the network, but understanding the marketing behind it.

    • I agree this is all pretty new and think there’s a place for hiring competent users. At the same time, there’s a difference to be stated between a user and a super user that has been paid for advice that resulted in the intended outcome – multiple times.

  22. To reply from both sides of the spectrum…

    As a consumer, the person on the other end of that socializing had better be someone who really works and breaths in the company…or you’ve lost me forever. Consultant is fine…but teaching companies social media skills is the best option rather than handling it for a company forever.

    As a business that uses social media, admitting that it’s a ‘living platform’ that changes minute-by-minute where you learn from mistakes and high-five when something works makes it an exciting time to be a marketer. On the flip-side, know that people actually do get tired of ‘socializing’ and may enter a state of WaffleHouse ‘scattered and smothered’ longing for the ancient ritual of a relationship with a real, live person and maybe even, oh my goodness, a phone call or one-on-one meeting where you talk to each other.

    • I agree Christy, teaching social media skills to companies so they can represent themselves is the best route. As a consultant working on this for companies for several years, specifically on social, the unfortunate reality is that not all companies are ready for that. Regardless, live/breathe brand and the ability to communicate that is essential if an agency is helping until the brand can perform community management itself.

      What? Interact via analog or, gasp, IRL? 🙂 The magic happens with social and other communication channels work together, including offline and traditional media – not just social or just in-person (my two cents).

  23. Good points Lee – thankyou. I prefer the more rounded term ‘digital marketing’ but then a lot of people don’t necessarily know what this is. I think it’s important to look at a persons marketing history, ask what campaigns they have run and how they measure success to seperate the wheat from the chaff.

    Often people who have sales and business acumen tend to be better at getting a foot in the door when others who have the skills and expertise are usually getting on with the job, listening, planning integrating across platforms, tweeting etc. If you live and breathe social media you get to know which platforms are right for the client. Maybe carry out audits (SEO & Social media) and build a content strategy and campaign plan around your research. I like Mashables simple five step process – plan listen, prepare, engage, go offline & measure. I’m no expert and i’m constantly learning – Thats my view anyway.

    I found these links useful on why you may need people with customer service/marketing expertise to help with social media :-
    http://gigaom.com/collaboration/social-media-consultant-or-snake-oil-salesman/
    http://socialmediatoday.com/pammoore/149639/social-media-consultant-65-tips-differentiate-good-bad
    http://www.computerweekly.com/blogs/enterprise-social-software/2010/03/what-does-a-social-media-consu.html
    http://socialmediatoday.com/richardmeyer/156148/interns-make-coffee-not-social-media-strategy

  24. I love it when people try to make example on how to be “pro” social media consultant, when there is no such thing. Every single one of us is BRAND NEW in this, so take some space, let results show who sticks and who doesn’t…

    • Have you hired a “fake it til you make it” social media consultant? Have you then hired one that has actually implemented programs that reached business goals – multiple times? There’s a world of difference.

  25. In this era of “a zillion friends on FB and 2 zillion followers on Twitter” being defacto benchmarks for “success” in the social media space, I say you can be a more succesful SMM with just a handful of followers – it all depends how they act and react to your influence . I challenge anyone who says they scroll past more than a couple of pages of friend status updates or tweets day. There just isn’t time or patience. This means 99% of your zillion friends and followers are never darkening your e-door – and vice versa. I actually got out of the house and homestayed with customers for extended periods over 5 years. My mantra? Be social, and the networking will follow. galfromdownunder.com

  26. Nice points, really! by the way, if it is a rant, I’d like to see you rant more often.:) I figured we wouldn’t have closed the year without a good and relevant debate about the validity of social media expertise. Here is what I think :It’s crazy and totally normal that people jump in the Social media bandwagon, whether it is as a user, a super user or a professional.There is room for social media trainers and coach, and also for strategist and super users. The field is only starting to go mainstream and many companies, as you said, need help. My main issue and questioning is about hiring the right social media expert for the company/business need. That’s where the plethora of *expert* can be both daunting and convey a false promise effect. The hiring managers should definitely be trained in high level possibilities, capabilities and opportunities for social media in order to better determine what type of *expert* they need. As long as the hiring managers see social media as a vague toying around with Facebook and Twitter, they will give business to just about everyone, good, bad and/or [email protected]

    • @karimacatherine Great feedback, thank you. I was just wondering about modifying the tone of this blog to be more conversational vs. being a resource of information. We’ll see 🙂

      I agree there is some due diligence responsibility on the part of the hiring entity – whether its a brand or an agency. These are competitive times and companies are scrambling to differentiate with social as a shiny object.

  27. I just wanted to point out that there’s a possible distinction collapsed here… that between “social media consultant” (which is what you started talking about), and “social media marketing consultant” (which you slid into further down in the post).I think it’s entirely possible for someone to be a SM consultant about a variety of things–none of which HAVE to include marketing strategy.At the end of the day, regardless of what people “do” for a living, my want is that they simply appropriately represent themselves and their competencies.

    • Good point – social media is about far more than marketing. I wish for the same thing re: representation.

      • I agree ! the way I see it – and Anastacia as well – social media doesn’t only impact marketing. It is actually a culprit that social media largely falls under marketing departments. Customer relationship, brand reputation, and customer experience go beyond marketing and corportate silos are usually what make the social media strategy fail. but that’s a whole other topic.
        PS: Lee, this is a great discussion! Your blog is so conversational already 🙂

  28. Couple of comments. First, as you imply, usage has virtually nothing to do with consulting. It’s like saying someone is really good at Microsoft Office so why not hire them to setup your email servers.

    Second, while I agree with the premise of the post, the numbers geek in me has to say that your google search examples have very little meaning as applied. Mentions of a term have no bearing on context of the usage.

    (e.g. “‘Social Media’ consultants suck” certainly doesn’t represent a consultant, or positive sentiment. And mentions of a new technology which has gained such traction will always outweigh mature terms, particularly in an instance where that technology is used by the masses outside of a professional spectrum…it’d be incredibly rare to see a post by Joe Public that included the term “PR”, but certainly possible to see one with “Social Media”.)

    Cheers,

    Matt Ridings – @techguerilla

    • Hey Matt, the search query graph on Social Media and Public Relations is an illustration. It’s not the basis if the post at all. The point of the post is pretty simple: there’s a difference between being a user and an experienced consultant. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

  29. Hey Lee,
    I’m new to this whole genre of the internet game but have tons of life experience and skills. I have been online studying for the past 3 years with utter frustration of all the crap that is displayed online because the more you talk, the words carry weight with rankings and the journey to the “first page”.

    My claim to fame is I have done nothing online for the past 3 years because of distrust and the agenda of this new universe wide web. Who is the expert! Everybody (lol) claims that they are an expert soon as they see some sort of ranking and now they are a consultant.

    In my world you have to work your craft and not jump around and say “I’m an expert in this and also and expert in that”!

    I can see it now, “too many chiefs and not enough Indians” is the term I grew up hearing when there was a discussion going on and everybody was talking at the same time.

    I am ready to exit my brick and mortar business (the real world) supported by 4 websites and my own blog networks, heading into the online stream of your area of expertise (the fantasy world).

    What I mean by this is, that there are too many “onliners” according to your numbers, that are dreaming of the new frontier and (because the internet is truly in it’s infancy stages) the gold rush is still on.

    Back then I know you only needed some ambition, desire, a little faith, perseverance and a good pick and shovel and you’ll be an expert prospector in no time at all.

    With Google and other search engine companies competing just as we are competing for the pole position it is important to gather a round table of internet assets, sort of like spokes on a wheel that keep the cyclists in the race.
    Fine tuned and still driving the pack!

    I know for a fact that if you have only the pick and shovel in the online world, you will be left behind because now things are changing dramatically online and you have to literally be tactical in your approach because the gold rush days are going to be over in 5 years or so!

    Yes there will be pockets of opportunity, that will always be there for the innovative engineers that look to the future and can see clear concepts and ideas working online.

    But look at our kids, wow! It is going to be second nature to them and they will tear up the internet by storm. Can we keep up?
    Yes, because we will be bringing them on board the social train tracks and networks and they will drive our businesses in territory that we have never even heard of. Imagine that!

    Have you followed your teenagers discussions online, text messaging, etc?
    It’s a trying experience I’ll tell ya!

    Like you Lee,
    I get kinda defensive/grumpy 🙂 when somebody tells me they’re ranking or they did this or did that and now they are talking like an expert.
    Especially when they keep asking me for advice and I love helping people, I really do, but don’t talk to me like your the prima donna of internet marketing afterwords. lol.

    Did these “first pagers” use whitehat, greyhat, blackhat techniques in their (I hate the overuse of this acronym) SEO, on page and off page?
    I’ll bet most use sneaky tactics which will bite them in the butt guaranteed, it won’t last forever. It will come back to haunt you so it’s best to take the long way around and stick with good honest principles.
    Just like anything else, picking up bad habits and practices will be just like stacking a house of cards. Everything will eventually tumble and if you are trying to build an internet empire. Good Luck!

    Kal Gutman – not an expert, just a smart lad!
    PS. Lee I just started my first blog post at http://www.KalGutman.com and I have looong ways to go, but I came by your site through listening to an mp3 interview with Brian at StudioPress. Great post! I have bookmarked your site! And from my understanding you are the go to expert in your field/craft. 🙂

  30. Arif Zulhilmi says:

    Yeah, there is no such things as pro media consultant. It’s all about money. When you really desperate to get the money, you will ‘suddenly’ can do anything. But sadly, not many people even realize about that.

    • At some level that is true. However, competent and experienced business people can tell the difference, especially if they do their due diligence with the consultants they hire.

  31. Lee,
    It’s all about quality and not quantity. I have seen my competition do exactly what you are talking about, profess to be the local expert and get away with delivering a cheaper service, only for clients to come back to me and help them with their situation.

    Don’t get lost in the title and just do your job exceeding your clients expectations and you will be the resident expert. There are people certified in my practice and they have the piece of paper with their name on a document stating that they attended and past an exam.
    There is one certification I will not take because I am truly the resident expert and “qualified not certified”. This certification is bogus because it costs approximately $300 for a 2 day course and people with absolutely NO experience are now certitified.
    “Certified but NOT qualified”.
    I sense that “social media PR consulting” is sort of in the same realm. Anybody can call themselves a social media expert.
    Well, I guess if you are loyal to your craft and have had a few years of success under your belt, then maybe you can argue that you are better than the up and coming social media sales rep, after all you have to sell yourself.
    You have seen it in many facets including web design. Web designers delivered 5 page sitesfor $5000.00 and up back when html was intimidating and now you can get a quality site (the same type of site) for $500.00 easy. Quality and content are extra in any field.

    But because business feels like they have been ripped off in the past, web designers are suffering the consequences and again they are a dime a dozen just like social media consultants.
    You have to be better at communicating and selling your ideas and let the crowd go in one direction and you go in the other.
    When I take this approach, I always end up in the top ranks with what ever I do in life, always. Just because there are PR consultants out there doesn’t mean they are good at what they do, but there are a lot of “transferable skills’ you can use to be good at something.
    My question is how many of your clients are you networking “with” on a regular basis?
    Are you showing real interest in their business? Don’t talk to them about how much of an expert you are, they already know that but show them results and move on, next.
    You heard of the expression, “some will, some won’t, so what, next”!
    Multi-level-marketing had the same feel to it, I did this full-time for 4 years and 15,000 distributors in my organization doing meeting after meeting and everybody deemed themselves an expert but they didn’t have the income to prove it.

    You will see it getting worse before it gets better in the online/offline media world, that’s for sure!

  32. Trends are like fads, they come and go, like social meds.

    …and even if you use Facebook or Twitter you will still need to socialise (sociologist, social psychologist, anthropologist, …) in order to get the results you are looking for.

  33. I agree with you. In the long run or long-term, it’s the professionals that will win out and still be in business. Once companies catch on that they know as much as a “user”, they will cancel their contract and go with a pro. Thanks.

  34. Alan Devereux says:

    It’s the next big con, companies need to wise up fast or they’ll employ cowboys.

  35. Ha. Being grumpy is okay. It was a good rant. We need businesses to hire professionals and not college students that think they know Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for the post.

  36. Couldn’t agree more. Being a good marketer in social media means you are a good marketer, period, in most any medium. Social is the new “channel” that takes know-how, YES, but you have to be great at messaging and strategy FIRST. In fact, you have to be a great messenger because there is no one to blame now if the message doesn’t work (no filter of traditional media, advertising channels, etc.)…you are talking directly to the consumer and this power can not be taken lightly.

    I liken social media to the hypothetical phone call (or conference call) marketers can make directly to consumers on a daily basis if that was possible…do you want some person who knows how to set up a Facebook page technically making that call, or do you want someone who knows how to SELL and message on Facebook (and other places) to make that call….it isn’t about technology, it is about salesmanship.

  37. Great social media consultants definitely exist, but it’s often hard to find them. A good way to tell if a social media consultant is worthless or not is to see whether or not the only thing they’ve ever marketed is stuff about how to make money online. Those are the worst. I think advertising on Facebook itself or just using services like http://facebook.getmorepopular.com might be a better deal than searching out a truly talented social media consultant and its certainly cheaper than finding a PR agency.

    • Buying fans? What’s the point in that? You can pay people to come to a party or entice them but once the money and/or beer is gone, so are they. A consultant should be able to help the brand attract fans through a mix of activities that stick. I suspect the service you link to can get fans but I really wonder if there’s any value beyond seeing the fan count go up?

  38. GeorgeG @ Web Design Proposal says:

    Solid points all round. Lots of fly-by-nighters and snake oil sellers. I feel for the some companies who seek these consultants as you really have to know what to look for and the questions to ask.

  39. SammieBizWebForum says:

    Without someone internally who knows a bit about online marketing, a company would be pressed to find the right person to handle their needs. As others have pointed out, knowing enough to ask the right questions is crucial.

  40. Its true.. Social media consultant is more valuable ans also its have been able to provide business..
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  42. The headline was catchy,and  reminds me of an Eminem song.Anyway,there is truth in this article.Take note of the words” online marketing reputation”.If many people acknowledge or call you  social media expert  other than your self,then you are indeed.You will find out a real social media expert not just by millions of followers in twitter, but also thorugh recommendations  from other  social media practitioners and  professionals , as well.