Social media expert or wannabe?
Let me start this piece by saying that I am not a social media “expert”. I use social media for marketing and promoting my business, but It is not a service that I routinely do for people. What frustrates me is people that claim to be experts in helping businesses in social media, but are blatantly not.
The more you look around, the more people there are that proport to be “experts” in this area.
Why are there so many experts?
Simple – there are lots of experts, because it is seen as “new”, low or no cost, and many are talking about social media as though it is the latest religion.
Does social media work?
Well that depends – if you use it to “sell” in the conventional way, then no. But if you use it in the way the very best and biggest brands use TV, not to create a sale, but to build brand awareness and trust – then yes. Sales will follow when trust is built.
How can you spot a “fraud” expert?
Ironically in social media, this is easier than many other industries, but it does take a little bit of detective work, but the good news is that many firms should put the evidence in front of you.
Evidence of being an expert
The simplest to look at is twitter. If someone claims to be a “twitter expert” then look at the following:
Look at their twitter page – how many followers? And how many are they following? – real experts have less people that they follow than the number that follow them (0think about it – if they tweet good stuff, people will follow!)
Look at their bio – does it say what they do – can you trust this?
Look at the numbers of followers, is this congruent with their sales messages? For example if they claim they can get you 1000s of followers, how many do they have? If they claim to help use twitter to engage, look at their twitter stream, is it full of @ messages with supporting words?
Look at their Avi (photo) is it the company logo, or their face? If a face – is it a well taken and apparently recent photo?
If the company is proposing that blogging is a good thing – check out their blog. Do they have one? How often do they publish? If its less than once a week, then they cannot walk their talk. Look at the content – are they giving useful tips to existing and potential customers about subjects relevant to their business, how to blog, tweet etc?
Are they pointing readers to OTHER BLOGS of competitors to highlight useful content they have found? Or are the “us..us..us”?
Do they just have a profile – or do they have a company page? Is the company page active? Are they getting “likes” for their content?
Do they have profiles you can find by searching for the company? Do they have a company page?
Do their profiles list more than their current job? (assuming this is not their first job). Do the profiles look like adverts for the company, or an honest “CV”?
Are the members of groups if so what groups – just ones directly related to their industry, or more diverse ones as well (this is better)? If on their profile they were ever a “life coach” – walk away… “fad surfer” alert!
Search engine optimisation – or getting seen on the web. Do a google search for their company name – is their site 1,2 or 3 on the natural results page?
Where are they for a more general search – for example if they claim to do SEO, look for SEO and the region of the country you are based – i.e. “seo Bristol”. For many firms operate locally, if they are not top, or at least second for this – why use them, they cannot deliver on their own company.
Klout (K or K+)
Klout is an independant measure of activity and success on social media. The Klout Score claims to measure influence based on a users ability to drive action. Every time a person creates content or engages to influence others. The Klout Score uses data from social networks in order to measure what they call:
- True Reach: How many people you influence
- Amplification: How much you influence them
- Network Impact: The influence of your network
For reference I found the following online from the CEO of klout:
Hi, I am the ceo and one of the founders of Klout. This was a fun article, thanks for taking the time to look at our data.
Having a little bit of insight into our algorithm there are a few notes I can add:
– You are right, we don’t care how many followers you have. We have found that this isn’t a good indication of influence as it’s too easily gamed.
– The number of people you follow does not play into the algorithm at all. Not sure why that is showing up as being highly correlated.
– We believe that influence is the ability to drive action. The reason you see total tweets as being correlated to Klout scores is that a person needs to consistently engage with their audience in order to build influence. If your audience isn’t responding to the tweets you put out though your score will actually drop. To be clear here, just tweeting will never raise your Klout score. If people interact with your content your score will rise.
It is said that a score of less than K50 is not influential – although this is debatable – I would expect a person using social media to be K40+
Is another similar scoring system to Klout but looks at what they describe as:
- PeerIndex score – a relative measure of your online authority, it is made up of a number of sub factors:
- Authority score – this is about trust
- Topic resonance score – what happens based on your actions
- Audience score – your reach
Some commentators say that a score of PI60 is good. What can be noted is the lower the score the less effective they are.
Why is this all important?
Unlike many other areas of business, social media is a moving landscape. Whjat worked last yesr may not work this year. Therefore the only way to learn is to do it. Trial and error if you like, or at least to try the things you research. For example I have recently added facebook to my klout score, and immediately saw a score drop. Now on facebook i have a small group of private contacts, and it seems that the numbers of connections is a negative! – So I disconnected it and my score went back up! This you can only discover by trial & error.
If your provider is not investing time in knowing what works and what doe not – then why bother?
Beware the seminar sharks
As potential users of social media we are often hungry to learn more – after all you are reading this blog – and it’s a long one – well done on getting this far). And seminars that purport to teach it to you in one session are to avoid. They will be a poor attempt to show you how complicated it is and you need the presenter to “do this stuff for you” – and hence it’s just a poorly wrapped sales pitch.
Social media is not hard – it just takes awareness (which you can get from blogs like this) and practice and most importantly– YOUR time (unless you want to outsource – which is fine too – just make sure the people you outsource to can walk their talk).
How to spot a fake social media expert
It’s all about the business. Ts all very well talking lots of jargon 0- blog, twitter, klout etc… but can they help you understand HOW to turn this into solid business leads, and sales? After all we are in business to do business.
The test – send them a message via as many social network channels as you find them on – if they don’t reply to ALL – they are fake! (but do allow a little lime…!
No overnight success
Let me say at this point, while social media is “here and now” it can take many months to get into the position of being able to generate activity. It’s a long term game – and one that only works when you are consistent.