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Six Words That Make Social Media Experts Disappear

Lithium Alumni (Retired)

You may not know this, but there are six magic words that make phony social media experts disappear.  As with all such incantations, you have to get the words exactly right.  Here's how it goes:

 

"Show me five things you've done."

 

If your expert is still there, feel free to explain what you mean.   You can explain that you'd like to see examples of social media efforts they have completed for five different companies.   You can explain that the companies sponsoring these efforts don't need to be in your industry, but they should be comparable to yours or better in terms of size and brand recognition.  You can explain that these efforts should not be in development, or coming soon: they should be ongoing or completed.   You can explain that these efforts must be successful by at least one measure -- they engaged thousands or hundreds of thousands or (preferably) millions of users.   

 

If they are still there, and they still can't answer the question, you may need to ask them to leave.  Even magic spells don't work on some of these folks.

 

But seriously:  it's important to know whether an individual or firm has experience in what works, or just ideas about what might work. 

 

Just to be clear -- there's certainly nothing wrong with being a pioneer.  And in new disciplines like social media,  experimentation can be good, even necessary.  But you should approach a project very differently -- and invest very differently -- if the project is a wild guess or a sure thing. 

 

If you don't know the difference just say, "Show me!"

About the Author
Joe is Lithium's Chief Community Officer. An expert in business-oriented online communities, he's helped more than 300 companies create successful communities. Follow him on Twitter at @cothrel.
16 Comments
Not applicable

Can't really argue with that! Could be a great way to check out any self professed expert on anything.

 

One word of warning, it won't necessarily separate the blaggers from the bloggers. (If you aren't sure what I'm talking about, check out what 'blag' means on google or something - it's British slang!) 

Not applicable

I'm a bit late to this party but I'd like to take a minute to express my appreciation for the honesty here and idea to help businesses determine who can actually help them versus who can simply talk a good game. I recently met a woman after a panel I was on who was waiting on her consultant to "launch" her blog and "roll-out" her Facebook page. Seriously. I told her neither was a difficult process and that she could do those things herself without paying a large fee. I also heard of someone charging $1,500 to train people on using Facebook.

 

Angela Connor

@communitygirl

Not applicable

For a good few years I have been quoting "web 2 is web do" to try and encourage anyone with an interest in social media and the future of their business to get in there and have a go, tweet, write a blog post, drop into a virtual world, upload a video for youtube, bookmark something on delicious. 

Once they have done that they start to think about the sort of questions they need from experts, the anecdotes, stories and ideas start to get put into context. 

I am forever adopting early, but trying to explain things in terms of the mainstream. Social media has the benefit that anyone can have an interaction in any field that makes them comfortable. 

So yes, challenge the experts and early adopters, but make sure you don't waste the "show me five things you have done" by missing out on the significant answers or getting bought into the less important ones. 

 

Khoros Oracle

You know, this blog article by you, Joe, is still soooo relevant today.  Even more-so actually, because of two things:

 

1.  Psuedo-gurus (charlatans?) are becoming that much more common in the social media / Social-CRM space

2.  Companies do not really know how to discern what makes up the good, the better, and the best among these consultants. 

 

For point #2, leaving aside the incompetent and the charlatans, how can you really judge how good a Social Media expert is?  Some companies would like to hire the "best", but they can only afford the "good".  But if they stretched their budget a bit, could they afford the "better"?  

 

So it may be possible to get the "better", but how can they tell that they're going to be getting "better" and not just "good".  Simply put, how do we define the grades (or shades of grades) that a Social Media expert can come in?

 

 

Khoros Staff

With inflation being what it is, and given that about 3 years have passed since Joe posted this, I'd amend it as follows:  "Show me three things you've done." The result will be exactly the same. 😉 

Lithium Alumni (Retired)

Good point, Dave!