Is Your Social Media Expert a Fraud? – By Missy Ward

by Colleen on December 27, 2010


Lately, I’ve received more and more requests to recommend “a social media marketing expert” (their words, not mine) to help create and manage their company’s social media strategy. Overall, it appears that the bulk of the people that have asked, have not been too keen on their existing expert.

Many have even felt duped by the firm they hired. After looking at a couple of the choices, it’s easy to see how the companies might feel deceived, based on the fact that they’ve hired self-proclaimed “experts” who I remember claiming to be experts in something else just a year ago.

A while back, I asked readers of my blog to provide some suggestions on red flags folks should look for when interviewing social media marketing companies. Here are some of their comments I received on my blog, Facebook and Twitter:

“When their email address is @gmail, @msn or @yahoo instead of a “real” company address. If you can’t set up branded email, I doubt you can test, measure and optimize social media campaigns.” – Anne Holland,

“When the first thing they talk about for Social Media is Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.” – Patrick Allmond,

“When the expert negotiates their consulting fee in free food. If they don’t know how to command proper pay for their services, how are you to expect that they know how to generate actual tangible revenue for you?”– Lori Miller,

“When you look at their Twitter account and it states they joined Twitter six months ago.” – Karen Rocks,

“When they can only talk tools (Facebook, Twitter) and not strategy; when they talk nothing but buzzwords like “engagement, metrics, authenticity” without context.” – Davina Brewer,

“When you can’t find anything about them on Google and their site is nothing more than a price sheet splash page.” – Anastasia Hilinsky,

“When they talk in %’s instead of real numbers… 200% growth in Fans! (From 4 to 11)” – Kevin Webster,

“When they neither have an outline, nor a clear plan on how they will promote your business through Social Media” – Geno Prussakov,

“When they don’t inventory your current communication channels, know what UGC stands for and have never used PickFu.” – Pat Grady,

“If the social media expert insists that you can’t measure the ROI on Social Media, chances are, they don’t know what they’re doing.” – Derek Halpern,

“When you search for the company name on Twitter (or any social media channel) and get no results.” – Sharon Mostyn,

“When you also see them in forums complaining that they can’t get any traffic and are thinking of giving up.” – Malcolm McDonough,

“When they call themselves a social media expert in the first place.” – Josh Todd,

Unfortunately, I couldn’t fit all of the comments here, but you can read them at
There are a lot of great firms out there, and it is my hope this will help separate the wheat from the chaff.

Missy is the Co-Founder of Affiliate Summit, Co-Editor-in-Chief of FeedFront Magazine and manages

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Evan December 27, 2010 at 10:45 am

Missy I couldn’t agree more. Most “social media managers” post once a day, ask stupid poll questions and surveys, are about 20 something, and have no frame of reference for the company. Get someone in there with a clue! The best person is usually someone internal, that really knows the products, is friendly with customers, and really cares…otherwise it can do more hard then good.

Davina K. Brewer December 27, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Missy, Great list and I’m flattered you included mine. Like Anne’s about the email URL (though I know plenty who like that gmail), Lori’s free food, Derek’s about ROI. My fave has to be Sharon’s about when you search for them esp. via social media tools, and they can’t be found. So true.. if you can’t at least stumble across a Twitter or LinkedIn page, a blog post or even comments on other blogs.. there might be a reason for that. FWIW.

blogomomma December 27, 2010 at 1:03 pm

When you comment on an article like this to get your name out there! LMBO!! Just cause I “say” I’m a princess…..well… you get me.

Salvatore Greco December 27, 2010 at 1:10 pm

I really agree with what Evan mentioned above. The best person is someone internal, because that is what it takes to manage social media. To TRULY manage social media at least…

You cannot just set things to auto aggregate and check on a campaign 5-10 minutes a day. A person has to be able to respond in “real” time, and be the voice of the company. Someone truly involved in the company can only provide that voice.

Outside consulting is always great, but for the hands on work, keep it in house!

P.S. Evan, love your Gravatar…from another SUPER HENDRIX FAN!!!

Lindsay Dianne December 27, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Great opinions and tips on here. People are far too gullible when it comes to what other people SAY they are experts in. I can tell you that I purposely DON’T use that word. Expert. Pssh… Expert, my butt.

Ryan Hukill December 28, 2010 at 12:27 am

These are all great, and very valid, things for people to pay attention to when looking to hire an “expert.” Personally, anyone claiming to be an expert, guru, master, ninja, etc raises a BIG red flag. Show me results, not made up, self-indulgent titles.

Kathleen December 28, 2010 at 9:52 am

Here, here! Great list of red flags.

Alex Putman December 28, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Awesome post! I could not agree more, how many people we see that are self proclaimed “experts” with no reference points! Thanks for the list of red flags!

Bryan Bruce December 28, 2010 at 4:22 pm

So called Social Media Experts should be great at one thing for sure…key word research. How are people searching and what are people socializing about. How can you mix your clients targeted customers into these streams of conversation so that your posts, tweets, efforts are indexed for later pickup. Lastly, how does your social media efforts translate into relevant converted traffic on your main website hub. Social media is daily promotion with the goal to drive traffic to your dedicated conversion spot.

Your Brand Voice

Ann Marie van den Hurk APR December 28, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Right on! There are experienced PR and marketing professionals out there who understand both traditional and social media and who knows how fit them together. Guess the “good” guys (myself included) haven’t do a job marketing themselves.

Greg Uhrlen December 28, 2010 at 6:13 pm

In regards to Social Media Marketing, many potential clients are unaware of any other strategies or tools outside of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Thus, if these websites aren’t mentioned, these people assume you don’t offer Social Media services. I would also say very few people are even aware that a measurable ROI can be achieved and documented from a Social Media campaign. The way we explain Social Media: just think of it as another tool of your overall marketing strategy. It is not a magic bullet.

Sid December 28, 2010 at 7:56 pm

I’m not sure if Miss is correct. I think she should add “Can’t provide a live link to a blog post on a CMS site” to the list.

Brady Pevehouse December 29, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Great post, the email issue is a pet peeve of mine. I can never understand how anyone in a profession that wants to be taken seriously would not want to begin branding either their business or their name?
With the use of forwards & auto-responders there should be no excuse.

Michele Price January 6, 2011 at 8:03 pm

My favorite is they do not talk about building an actual community with the brand-bridging their customers with them across all parts of their business.

Point is to be making real time connections and “talk ” with them-be social.

So not about “getting you thousands of followers” chuckle

Leilani Haywood January 22, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Another red flag – being clueless as to how social media integrates with offline marketing efforts or promising it can deliver leads without any offline marketing efforts.

Rebecca Gill January 23, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Loved the article. I strongly believe the true test is ROI and the measurement beyond likes and followers. Engagement – true engagement – is much more important than the number of likes and followers.

If you don’t have a good website to bring your community back to and a message to give them, it is pointless.

Bret Simmons January 23, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Excellent. I my experience, these are also folks that 1) don’t practice what they peddle, and 2) make SM all about SEO. Too many have not made the transition in the way they think about how to engage and market, so they just use new tools for tired old methods.

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