• Gary Roth

Beware Social Media "Experts"

If building your brand or platform is starting to sound too complicated or time-consuming, and you’re thinking about hiring someone to do it all for you, please consider this warning: not everyone has the expertise they claim.

For example, I am increasingly being pitched by so-called social media experts. A very few are bona fide experts. Some are traditional media people who are repacking the same old advice using the new buzzwords. More than a few are unemployed marketing people who finally discovered Twitter last month. In fact, I checked out one recently who had no blog and only a few hundred Twitter followers.

Even worse than that, I was approached by a woman on Instagram who claimed to be a 2X best-selling author on Amazon. The Amazon best seller list? When I checked, her "best-selling book" was ranked 5,267,988 in the self help category. Wow.

There’s no crime in any of this, of course . . . unless you are billing yourself as a social media expert. Then it’s just ludicrous!

How do you tell the difference? Here are three rules:

  1. Make sure the expert’s claims are backed up by his numbers.

  2. Make sure he has been where you want to go.

  3. Make sure he knows how to replicate his success.

You wouldn’t want to attempt to climb Mount Everest, get halfway up the mountain, and then discover this is your guide’s first climb. Neither do you want to follow the advice of someone who is (as they say in Texas) “all hat and no cattle.” Reading a few books and articles on social media is not the same as building a successful social media platform, trust me.

Rather than walking you through some negative examples, let me give you some positive ones. I faithfully read the blogs of Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, and Tim Ferriss, and they are all highly recommended. I would be happy to take advice from any of them on building blog traffic, improving personal performance, or thinking differently.

Why? You can easily check their numbers. You can look at their rankings on various platforms and you can witness their impact across all social media channels.

They all have more traffic than I do. Therefore, when they speak, I listen.

Or take Twitter. I get pitched several times a day from people who know “how to dramatically grow your follower count on Twitter.” This claim to expertise is easy to check as well. In fact, if the so-called expert doesn’t have more traffic than I do, I ignore him. On the other hand, the last I checked, the above mentioned men have millions of followers.

Again, I would be happy to take advice from them because they have built large followings—without the benefit of traditional media platforms (e.g., a television show, movie career, career in politics). Unfortunately, most of the people who are out there touting themselves as social media experts aren’t. It’s up to you to know the difference. That’s why you should start with the numbers.

If someone hasn't done it themselves, how in the world do you expect them to help YOU?