Why do I care about Social Media? What am I doing getting all frustrated about it anyway? The world of Social Media and those who are just starting to use it know the frustrations and pains. If you are not a professional, it takes more than just one blog or one tutorial to master. After giving it a go on your own, you may look at your budget and then resort to an “expert” in the skills and practices of Social Media.
When I first started on my own journey of learning, I soon realized there were many people who would be happy to step in, get me all plugged in and started. They could even guarantee a following, a reach, and an impression that would define how amazing this journey would go. “Your business was soon going to be booming!” they’d promise. Now I’m assuming you are a smart guy or gal. You have your degrees framed, and years of industry success. You have hired dozens if not hundreds of people throughout your career that help grow your company. How is hiring a professional any different–a Social Media Expert/Professional, a Brand Manager, a Marketer?
You find someone who tells you of their success as a Social Media expert. You are smitten by their charisma and charm. The person wow’s you with so many details of the success they offer. That person then begins to bring you into confidences of other big companies and those company secrets. You keep listening because as you begin to follow up and check out the references provided, you see what appears to be real and you have no reason to question it. Yet soon, something begins to not feel quite right, but then hey, you know business in real time, and you nothing of this online. Perhaps you are just starting out in business, and have no experience. You begin to feel very valued and validated that this expert is making room for you in their day and willing to take on your project in business. So many seemingly amazing accomplishments this expert has had and is involved in. This expert touts all her relationships with celebrities and promises you, that he or she will bring you into that scene. “I can take you places that your business would not otherwise go without my experience and help.” Those words spoke to me by such an “expert,” and this writing coming from my own personal experience and the experiences that many others have shared with me.
You became popular practically overnight. Your follows increased by thousands, this expert is “your new best and ‘trusted’ friend.” You have even trusted your passwords to this expert. Your reports were presented, you paid your fees. The interesting thing is, with a plumber, if they came to put in a new faucet, you turn it on, the water comes out. Easy to see the results of the money you just paid for that service. For the thousands now following your brand you are not seeing the conversations in your streams you were promised. The “professional” has some words with you about your now inferior product and they can no longer help you. You confront the business practices, and with now deeper research realize, you are not working with a real professional. As a matter of fact that “new best friend” status changes overnight, which is not the problem. The problem is you trusted the words of a phony. They are gone, you leave Social Media, and present to your team the loss–a really bad experience that transfers to very poor PR for those Social Media Professionals who are truly doing this right.
Why does it matter? Why do I care? Companies are losing out on the great potential to grow their business than ever before. This same “expert” told me I could charge 5x my fee for my services. The expert to me: “These dumb-dumb companies have no clue. They do not have time, nor do they want to learn. Not my problem! I make them look good for a little bit and then move on.” Many of these “dumb-dumb” companies have fired this particular expert. Only it took them too long and realize the damage.
Are you paying a Social Media company to make you look good? Recently this same expert gained over 15,000 followers while she was sleeping. That does not happen in real business. Several months ago I spoke at an event and gained over 700 followers in the next two weeks. Real engagement of people around me in the kind of business I do. Did this “expert” speak in a stadium oversees, or was this expert creating a phony for oneself, as is being done for those “dumb-dumb” clients?
Did you know that it’s common practice for these quacks (an old school term for a person who claimed to be a real Dr. and was not) to buy fake followers? They look like real people, faces, smiles, bios. Did you know that many of these quacks set up their own host of accounts that appear to be real to go and tweet at you, flatter you, your brand? Did you know that these quacks develop fake communities of people that sing their praises as an expert? Yes, what appear to be real people offering up praises to how wonderful and amazing? Real clients do not have time to hang on a computer tweeting to their hired help how amazing they are. Experts are hired because the company does not have time, know how, or resources that the true experts have to manage their business. If I tweeted out from one of my client accounts how wonderful I am, I might lose that client. Thus!–it’s not about me, it’s about them.
In return, real people and real businesses see this, believe it and the patterns are repeated. A national celebrity had 89% of community followers as fake due in part to a phony expert. When word of mouth still reigns as the highest form of brand building, companies are set up to fail when all areas of looking good are falsified.
Often, when confronted you see these phony brand managers claim they had no idea of any fakes when exposed. Really? A true brand manager not only monitors that daily for a client, they know how to clean it up. True professionals/experts keep a brand slowly building with intentional following and real engagement, which slowly builds your loyal customer base.
It does matter, and I do care. There are many people like myself who have built success for companies in their marketing challenges. A week does not go by when I see or hear of another company stepping out of social media because with all the hype, likes, follows and fun, there is no real business. They spent a ton of money, were wowed by falsified impressions and no Return On Investment.
What can companies both small and large be doing to protect their good name, their investment, and get real solid information in an industry they know nothing about? Come back next week for Part Two–“Ten Steps To Hiring A Social Media Professional.”
Moments before this post went out, I received a private message from a friend who knows my heart, and how I care for business in Social Media. She linked me to a blog post that stopped me in my typing tracks. I know the author of this post and asked her if I might link her post here. Within 24 hours, we had two professionals weighing in on how we do care. Please go and read this post:
This is terrific. The only way to build a following is by doing the work. Just like relationships in real life, social media relationships are formed and strengthened over time with engagement! :-)
New business owners seem to think marketing is a numbers game and nothing more. Unfortunately they fail to realize there has to be a level of one-on-one between customer and business before a customer will buy, and the “numbers game” has nothing to do with it.
Years ago there were a lot of websites promising freebies if you joined their list. Unfortunately, this created a list of freebie seekers that wanted nothing to do with buying a product. The amount of time and effort going into this was maddening, because the return rate was so incredibly low. Although a carefully built list over time was (and is) a gold mine.
Cheval does have a point about the “microwave world”. (I had a high school teacher who called us the “microwave generation” hehe) We want our information and success NOW. The simple fact is, a business must learn to develop long-term public relationships for long-term success.
Kara, Thanks so much for a very though provoking comment. YOU get it and for that reason we need more people like you pushing the nature and value of Social Media. Thank you, Elizabeth
What a remarkable post. So very true – It’s so sad but companies truly do hand over their hearts to Social Media Consultants who often break them. Thank you for this evenly weighted shining of the light on this situation. I still do a little social media consulting, but only what I can handle and DO WELL to promote my clients. It’s incredibly hard work when done right and the gratitude of the client is worth its weight in KLOUT!
Thank you for this post. What’s interesting is the fact that on twitter, they have these people that say that you can have so many followers if you pay some sort of fee. I think that these people don’t know how to develop a relationship to begin with and that is why they do it.
That what you have in this “microwave” type of world these days.
I honestly believe that these people don’t know how to be real and develop a relationship with the other. That is what you expect in a now “microwave” world.