Just because you only met social media idiots does not mean that everybody is one …
Every time the meme of “oh look those idiots are calling themselves Social Media [Gurus|Experts|Specialists]” comes up I get highly annoyed at the hidden insult. And the fact that this kind of posting most often is link bait.
Just because there are millions of nephews putting together web sites by clicking in Frontpage does not mean that there are no real web developers. And just because there are millions who use Word merely as a better typewriter or Excel like a better calculator does not mean that others can’t do great stuff.
It is an insult not only to the people doing social media in the right way for their customer, but also to all the buyers out there: because obviously they are too stupid to figure out on their own which specialist will work best for their needs and requirements.
“Social Media Something” is what customers are looking for
Believe it or not, “Social Media Something” is actually what works for the normal people (you know, the ones with the budgets). They want even more specific things, and I am waiting for it to come up in the “so called social media specialist” postings: “and there are even people who call themselves (insert your favourite play toy here) experts!”.
Customers are not searching for “basic training in how to use a computer and a browser”. Yet every day I see people typing in URLS by hand instead of using bookmarks. Customers are not looking for “basic training on how to use email” yet every day we can see solutions on “how to go email free and get work done”. It is stuff like this what the customers should pay for to learn to do it properly, because it will help them in the long run. But that is not what the customers are asking or paying for.
They are only paying “for that Internet thing” or nowadays “for that [Twitter|Facebook] thing”. People who make a living out of this can either stand in the corner with offerings which are “healthy” for the customer – or understand that this is not working and use the language the client understands. And then work from there.
An Expert will fix everything – not
Some customer actually have a clear vision of what they want to achieve, what their resources are, what their possibilities are, etc. Most don’t. From my point of view it is the responsibility of every consultant to assess what the clients wants / haves / needs are and then decide if he or she is the right fit for this customer, this industry and or this project.
It includes knowing what not to give to the customer. Often customers are attracted by on one shiny thing (which 2009 was Twitter, take your pick in the other years from whatever is hyped). They want “a Twitter” but would be far better of by a newsletter or even something offline.
There are of course the people taking advantage of the miserable state of customers – but that is no excuse to blame it all just on one side. There are two parties in each deal.
For standards you need metrics
Speaking of miserable state, I found the slides by Marshall Sponder very enlightening on the topic.
So as long as we have no reliable metrics and meta data, we will stay in the wild wild west of social media. But he, what about those called for industry standards? Okay, how about you tell me the “industry standards for online marketing”. And then show me the “certified trainings and associations”.
So next time you see somebody complaining about the “so called experts” do me a favour: if you are knowledgable just make sure that your customers and friends know what to look for when they hire a freelancer or any company to do stuff for them – and not just when it is about social media.
Also worth reading (including the comments):
Thanks, but no thanks: Enough with the nonsense already.
But it worked awesome for the coaching industry!
I’d like to add the comment I left on Mashable’s posting about fresh ‘numbers of so called experts’ where the argument of the industry standards with comparison to the coaching industry came up:
So just because someone has a certificate makes them a good coach? And having learnt something at some day in their live to pass the exams (even if they include assignments over time) makes them better than somebody in another industry because there is no ‘association’?
I have been training people on how to use computers for two decades, how to use the Internet for biz for 11 years and nowadays that is mostly social media stuff. But I do not have any ‘certification’ – which obviously means that I have no clue what I am doing nor am I capable of helping clients, because I call myself social media specialist.
The industry standards exist, and although Return on Investment is not what it is for many other areas, it exists. But it requires a lot of knowledge from the buyer which very often is not given. I hesitantly do say I am a social media specialist, but mostly for the reason that the buyers want this kind of description to differentiate with other areas of Internet related services.
“Oh you do that Facebook stuff. And I need a Twitter!” is basically the knowledge of many – and having that, many of the not so skilled social media people are way ahead of those customers. Let’s imagine there is an exam on how to become ‘social media qualified’. Even with certification (how many coaches world wide are there again? How many of those work successfully without having ever seen a ‘certification’?) it does not guarantee success.
Put it differently: “I know way more about this stuff than you do and can explain it to you in a way that you will understand, work with you on your objectives, strategies and execution and make sure that you do not screw up on the way (assuming that you actually will listen and do what I tell you)” just does not fit in 160 characters of self description on a twitter bio …