The chance of anybody who has not seen the 1992 movie, Sneakers, and caught the obscure reference to continue reading this Blog post beyond the title will be minimal... and I'm fine with that.
"Setec Astronomy" is actually an anagram in the thriller for "too many secrets." We now live in a world with very few secrets. The truth is that people making claims about their competencies and skills and not being able to back them up with a digital footprint comes off as hollow. But, it's worse than that, because claiming yourself as an expert and knowing that others can do a few, simple online searches to uncover the truth makes it even worse.
Who do you trust?
Someone recently asked me about a Social Media course that was taking place and if I knew the instructor. I did not. Like the person asking the question, I went online and discovered that the individual leading this intensive session has no credible digital footprint. While they have a respectable job title, their LinkedIn profile was out of date. They have a handful of Twitter followers, but have not updated their status in the past six months and most of the tweets prior to that are repetitive Foursquare check-ins to their work, gym and a local bar (digging a little deeper it's clear that they were trying out Foursquare but dropped it in short order as well). They have no Blog, Podcast, YouTube clips or flickr stream. It's hard to even find places online where they have commented on other people's Blogs. They do have a Facebook profile, but the last update was a few weeks ago, and it was a link to a project they were working on.
I wouldn't pay to take a course with them.
There have been many Blog posts and debates about the notion of "walking the talk" when it comes to Social Media. A thought like, "do you need thousands of followers on Twitter to speak to the business benefits of being on Twitter?" The answer is "no," you do not need thousands of followers, but you do need to show up, be active and be engaged with the channels to really know what they are, how they work and - most importantly - how to teach them to others.
We're doing the Marketing industry a disservice.
The amazing thing (and the scary thing) about Social Media is that it's evident (through those simple searches) if someone understands the channels and how they work. The amazing thing (and the scary thing) about Social Media is that it's not a numbers game - you can get a general gist of someone's competencies by their level and quality of activity. The amazing thing (and the scary thing) about Social Media is that you can't fake it. In the old days, you could say, "I've spent a decade in the Marketing industry," and it was a tough claim to disprove. That was the world of "too many secrets." Now, can you really claim to teach a course on how to successfully leverage these channels when it's clear that you have failed to engage in almost all of them? The default excuse may be that you don't have time for them, yourself, because you're too busy successfully doing it for clients... but I don't buy it. Social Media is highly personal and it's hard (very hard) to do it well and, if you're not neck deep in it, yourself, it's even harder to be successful doing it for others.
Do you think professionals need to be able to "walk the talk"? What's your take?