Social Media Experts A Joke? I Don't Think So…

by Cheryl Tieken

So I read this interesting article today by Peter Shankman, founder of Help A Reporter Out. In it, he pretty much bashes social media experts, saying that “if you have a social media expert on your payroll, you’re wasting your money.” And while I didn’t quite agree with the tone of his message, he did hit some valuable points.

As it seems that hiring a social media expert is a now subject of much debate, let’s go over Shankman’s points – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Shankman starts out by saying that “being an expert in social media is like being an expert at taking the bread out of the refrigerator. You might be the best bread-taker-outer in the world, but you know what? The goal is to make an amazing sandwich, and you can’t do that if all you’ve done in your life is taken the bread out of the fridge.”

It’s a cute analogy and I get it. Yes, there are a ton of people out there who assume that just because they use Facebook and Twitter all the time they can now call themselves experts. And maybe this is who Shankman is referring to. He goes on to say that “we’re making the same mistakes that we made during the DotCom era, where everyone thought that just adding the term .com to your corporate logo made you instantly credible.” Yes, social media is trendy and when something is trendy, everyone wants to get on board. And there will always be people and companies that try to make a pretty penny on the next great trend by selling it themselves. Unfortunately, many of these people care more about making money and less about providing a good service for their customer. And as a customer, it may be easy to fall into their hypnotizing clutches. However, not all social media marketing companies are full of it.

Shankman goes on to say that social media is just a new trick in the hat of marketing. And, I couldn’t agree more. Social media is just another avenue to spread your marketing efforts. It just happens to be an avenue that allows messages to be spread at rates no other avenues can ever compete with. His point here is completely true – Social media marketing is “about generating revenue through solid marketing and stellar customer service, just like it’s been since the beginning of time.” If your target market is active on Facebook and Twitter, why wouldn’t you use this to your advantage?

He says next that social media marketing is “about transparency. It’s not about lying to your customers…” I couldn’t agree more. Set up a Facebook page merely to sell to your customers and you’ll lose them. Trust me – IT WON’T WORK. And social media experts who are worth your time and money know this and will tell you this. Be genuine. Show your target audience that you care about them and they will care about you.

Shankman’s next important point is about relevance. Anyone with marketing savvy knows that you have to understand your target audience – who they are, where they are, and what they want to talk about. If your target audience isn’t into social media, you are not going to see the same results as a business whose target audience is constantly tweeting away.

Unfortunately, Shankman jumps to the conclusion that all social media experts just try to push the sale of a Facebook and Twitter page, without ever trying to strategize the best methods for online and social media marketing. A good social media marketer will understand that they must invest time into researching a target audience and planning an effective strategy.

So that’s it in a nutshell. His argument that social media experts have simply jumped on the newest trend and will soon be deemed a waste of time and money is in my opinion, very narrow-minded. If you hire a talented and savvy social media marketer, you will never feel that way. Social media is here to stay. Marketing will always and has always been here. There are people out there who understand both concepts better than others. Social media marketing is too powerful a tool to ignore.

So don’t bash social media marketers. Find one who is a multi-faceted and savvy businessperson that understands the power of social media. Trust me, it will definitely be worth your time and money.