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Hold Onto Your Wallet When You Hear the Following: "Hi, I'm a Social Media Expert!"...

I get asked to speak a lot to HR pros related to social media.  Seeing this post from Chris over at RenegadeHR reminded me of the following statement I almost always make to groups when I'm speaking about HR or recruiting and social media:

"I'm not a social media expert.  I'm an end user who's done a lot with it, but I'm not an expert.  IfSnakeoil  someone tells you they're a social media expert, hold onto your wallett or purse.  Tightly..."

Why would I say that?  Don't some people need a lot of help when it comes to social media strategy and execution?  Shouldn't someone be available to help them?

The answer to both those questions is "yes".  But a social media "expert" is the last thing those people need to create and execute a sustainable strategy when it comes to social media on behalf of their organizations (note - I'm talking about people in charge of thinking how to use social media within companies/organizations).  Here are five quick reasons why a general social media expert won't be able to give you what you need:

1.  Because it's easy and what they can do, they'll slam in a centralized social media strategy.  Won't work, won't be authentic enough, won't, won't, won't.  Your company deserves better.

2.  Your real social media strategy is related to the industry you serve or the profession you're in.  Most "experts" are generalized and don't know anything about your business.  That's why they keep coming back to the centralized strategy.  Lame.  If you need help, get away from the broad experts and find someone who gets what you do to make money.  That expert has a shot, not the generalized guru.

3.  The "expert" can't help you recruit participants in your organization to engage via social media.  Like Public Enemy once said, it takes a nation of millions to hold us back.  You're going to need employees turned writers to make the strategy work.  The expert can't help you do that.  Only you, or people like you in your company, have the credibility to make that pitch. 

4.  The "expert" can't teach people to write.  Ouch.  Probably the toughest thing you'll do in your social strategy is find people internally who can write, because the content/thought has to come from them to be authentic both internally and to the outside world.  The expert will be long gone before you figure out this dirty little secret.

5.  Socail Media isn't rocket science.  You can figure it out, but like any project worth doing, it takes time, dedication and persistance.  The expert's engagement with you is going to last about 30-60 days, at which time you'll be left holding some groovy twitter, facebook and blog accounts, but little else.

You deserve better.  If you really need help or just don't have time to get it going, call me and I'll help you, or call someone like New Media Services that has a lot of experience in the vertical you serve.  That's an authentic voice that understands how hard it's going to be for you.  A Chris Brogan wannabe is not going to help you.  And I like Chris Brogan...

I'm just sayin'...


Drew Hawkins

Good words of wisdom. One of the things many people miss out on is that your best social media executions come internally, not from an outside source that's separated from your organization. Look at Southwest: their blog was started by (and I think managed by) internal employees. Turning employees into content creators is one of the biggest hurdles


The tidbits about needing people ont he inside to both write well and "get it" couldn't be more accurate. Our newsletter always gets rave reviews as being funny and well written.

None of the people who have ever written it were "professionals." They have all been people who know the business inside and out and we got lucky and noticed that they happen to write well.


There's a definite distinction between social media marketing and recruitment, the latter asking much more of the employer and therefore why we see so much more of the one-way, short term, mass communication.

I think this touches on the notion of the ‘psychological contract’ between employee and employer, traditionally thought of as the implicit promise an organisation makes to a new recruit (and vice versa), but as we can see, with social media allowing for genuine connections at the candidate stage, we could be missing opportunities to create this bond at a much earlier stage.

If a stronger psych contract is a marker of how long that person will remain at a company, then employers could benefit hugely from instilling a sense of security, investment and engagement, or at least alluding to the promises they make to their employees, via online interaction at recruitment stage.

We’re exploring these sorts of themes in the forums at HubCap Digital (

Joel Kimball

Money as always, KD. And timely.

Just had a LinkedIn request today from someone I didn't recog who listed herself as: "a social media expert". Plus identified me as a work colleague when we're not.

Reverse order: Rule #1 - don't lie to me about our relationship - I know that I don't know you (y'know?). Rule #2 - a social media "expert" would implicitly understand rule #1, so you're a liar again, cause you ain't no "expert".

However, this does sound like a great gig after I retire - I can handle the rejection, and P.T. Barnum is still right....

Eric Guess

The article couldn't be more simple and accurate.
The biggest hurdle we've faced in establishing a social media outlet at my organization is engaging the employees themselves. While we, the executive team try to find the silver bullet in employee engagement in an effort to drive down turn over, we're met with our employees asking, "so this is mandatory?" "is my activity confidential?" and the more common question, "why do I need to do this, can't I just work and then go home?"
All of this has left us thinking maybe a 35 hour work week will be more effective!

Jason Seiden


Hey, regarding self-proclaimed social media experts, what's your feeling on communications and sales experts coming together to help others with sm? Keep in mind, one of them has been using social media successfully to market a non-sm business for the past 4-5 years. Specifically, how about weighing in on this:

(Thought you'd get a kick out of this... ;)


Hey Jason - always good to see people who are active users of social media trying to help others - love the site you referred me to as well...

Funny, those that use SM don't seem to classify themselves as experts - just end users with some thoughts - makes all the difference in the world to me!



True, so true.

I'm going to give this to my clients (and potential clients) so they know what NOT to expect from me.

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