Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
October 19, 201010:28 PM

Setec Astronomy

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 While they have a respectable job title, their LinkedIn profile was out of date.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?

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Ken
    Mitch Joel

    I think this is dead on, Mitch. I get frustrated when I see local companies, many of them my competitors, who are well funded, and they say they offer Social Media services and teach blogging, and yet their last blog post was a month or more ago. Their Facebook presence is like a vacant house, and they Tweet outwardly (rarely engaging) a few times a week...and even that is usually when they are at a conference tweeting about whatever the Social Media speaker is saying. Or all they do is retweet stuff from a group of friends patting each other on the back about how good each other is.

    One area company just blogged for the first time in a few months, and the gist of the blog was how to crack Google's SEO code...and this blog went on for paragraphs talking about the importance of SEO, etc...and there was no payoff. Unless of course you consider an invitation to a seminar on how to crack Google's SEO code a payoff. That was it...a pitch for an upcoming seminar.

    And a lot of this, I think, is especially true of marketing agencies for whom Social Media is an add-on. They added it because their clients wanted it...not because they could do it. And I'm not patting myself on the back here, but this is why I focus on only a few things, one of which is Social Media. I don't do web design. I don't do graphics. I don't do traditional marketing. I want to do one or two things and do them well.

    Thanks for this, and thanks for voicing this frustration for me. It carries a lot more weight coming from you.

    Reply
  • Posted by Joe Sorge
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch, you just flat out nailed it in that last paragraph. I think the only reason that we're moderately successful within the medium is because we were an engrossed user of the tools first, before we made any attempt, or even recognized that there was a business model sustainable.

    Reply
  • Posted by sarajlord
    sarajlord

    Heavens yes! Insight worthy of sharing comes from experiencing it yourself.

    That said, I think educators are at a disadvantage. As a rule, they're older than their students and therefore usually not up on the latest tech trends.

    I'm currently in a Social Media Strategies and Tactics class at Brigham Young University - Idaho, actually, and this seems to be the case. My professor is very humble about his knowledge, which seems to come from a personal facebook account and listening lots of podcasts on the topic. He does know a lot, but he recognizes his limitations.

    Instead of exaggerating his know-how, he's facilitating ways for class members to teach each other. We exchange tips and tricks in class and via our course facebook page. He invites communications professionals to class, who talk about how they are using social media in their businesses.

    In short, yeah, please, walk the talk. But if you're lagging behind, just be honest about it and find ways to keep your credibility even as you apologize for your ignorance. It's not as hard as you think.

    Reply
    • You're right. We need to start at the education level as well. We have no peer-reviewed text and it's increasingly more difficult for these professors to stay ahead. Perhaps we need a "train the trainer" program in place for all senior marketing instructors?

      Reply
    • Posted by Mala Bhargava
      Mitch Joel

      You can be humble and honest about it, but not being able to walk the talk doens't entitle you to charge good money for teaching someone what you don't know. "Let's all learn together" or "Why don't you teach each other while i watch and learn too" is nice as long as you're not positioning yourself as a trainer in social media.

      Reply
  • Posted by John McLachlan
    Mitch Joel

    Hell yah. You do need to walk the talk. Maybe I'm thinking too small, but I'm only working for people and organizations is know enough about to help appropriately.

    Do you remember an ad on TV ten years ago where two consultants make the pitch and the CEO says "ok, go do it." The two consultants start to squirm and one says to e CEO "we don't actually... do what we suggest."

    Well, at least they were honest enough to come clean, but I think a lot of people have not walked the talk.

    Reply
    • I think this person actually does understand the channel and does the work for clients, I just think there's something lacking when you see nothing of them online. No way to even tell how they think about the space or why they think you should learn from them.

      Reply
  • Posted by Doug
    Mitch Joel

    I like your comments on the social media providing evidence of the depth and quality of a supposed social media expert - it is a blessing and a burden at the same time.
    The blessing is that all the lessons on how to be a good social media marketing coach are out there, the burden is putting in the time and study to be a pro at it.

    Reply
  • Posted by Ric Dragon
    Mitch Joel

    Without question - YES! People providing social media services need to be up to their noses in social media. Social media isn't just know how post tweets, create facebook profiles, or post videos on Youtube... It's not even about all the neat tricks that can be involved with those platforms.

    1. Its about how to be a social person. In Cyrano de Bergerac, Christienne blows it at one point by suggesting that Roxanne give him a kiss - way too soon! Fortunately, Cyrano stepped in with soothing words, a master of the social. Engaging with people is about more than asking them about their day, or suggesting they become your fan.

    2. In using social media for business, it's about understanding how to use the media within a goals/objectives-driven process - knowing when to put effort in one medium versus another - and how to work them together to create hidden value.

    So, like organization development before it, and "therapy" before that - there is no universally accepted standard, or accreditation... ANYONE can call themselves a professional.

    Reply
    • ...and because it's like this, one can only hope that those considering to attend these types of sessions really do their own homework and ask themselves if this is the type of person that wish to learn from.

      Reply
  • Posted by Linda
    Mitch Joel

    Yes, they do. It doesn't have to be a huge numbers game, but if they are "experts" self proclaimed or otherwise, this expertise has to have some substance and real experiential merit.
    If a cursory digital scan doesn't uncover enough experience to provide some serious street cred, then, I'd challenge the skills/expertise of the so-called expert. I find this the case, especially in areas like social media where everyone is being hypnotized by the shiny new object, so many still don't understand it, so it's easy to spend a bit of time and claim expertise (where none really exists), but far harder to prove it. I believe the "show, don't tell" adage applies here.
    I think part of being an "expert" is seeing beyond the tool or tactic and elevating the conversation to a higher more strategic level. This is where true expertise becomes evident.

    Reply
  • Thank you for this post Mitch. Right on the money. Every person planning a career in communications should read this and start taking the steps to "show up" or the new world we live in will pass them by.

    Reply
  • Good thought Mitch. I wrote a blog article to a similar thought thread earlier this week.

    I see social media as a lot like poker. Everyone thinks they're good at it.

    And most lose at both.

    Professional poker players thank this deception profusely. Because without the deception, there would be no profession for them.

    Why? Because weak poker players (the fishes) would know they were bad faster, the losses much more profound, and subsequently, they would stop playing sooner.

    Social media goes on its way with a similar deception. It's easy to learn, and even easier to pretend your good at.

    All this unbeknown to businesses who are willing to spend their good hard earned money at to be shown the way.

    Reply
  • Posted by Rommil Santiago
    Mitch Joel

    What can I say? Dead on. Thank you a million times over for this post.

    And regarding walking the walk. I like to think about it the same way I think about leadership. You can understand it. You may know ever aspect of it. You may be able to teach the theory of it. But it doesn't mean you can do it or that you have it within you.

    "Getting" social, is like getting leadership. Some are naturally born with certain skills - and others, well, can pretend really well.

    Reply
    • Can leadership be taught by someone who is not a leader? It's an interesting question. I think it might be able to be taught because we have a legacy of research that does provide leading indicators of what it takes.

      I'm not sure that the same can be said for Social Media, or perhaps each industry is different?

      Reply
  • Posted by Anthony Kalamut
    Mitch Joel

    You wrapped it up perfectly yourself..."walk the talk and talk the walk".

    It reminds me of a story a rabbi once told me. The difference between a priest and a rabbi comes down horseback riding. A priest can tell you all about horses... breeds, saddlery, methods of care etc... but a rabbi can tell you exactly how to ride that horse and has likely been riding horses inorder to yield offspring.

    Same with so called Social Media experts... ride the damn horse 24/7/365... if they only talk about riding it and never do it... you get the point.

    Reply
  • Posted by Aerin Guy
    Mitch Joel

    Howdy Mitch. Great post - and I think that half the problem is that the people booking these so-called trainers are so new to social media themselves that they don't know what criteria to examine before shelling out. And the intimidation factor can be huge - when you have someone prancing in, spouting "tweet this", "blog that", and "e-blah blah blah", it's like a different planet. I do a lot of workshops and training myself, and always offer the full meal deal in terms of references and proof. Do they check? I hope so - because I'd like to continue helping to facilitate change without fear of being lumped in with the bozos. Thanks for this post!

    Reply
  • Posted by Shariya
    Mitch Joel

    I'm surprised the institution that hired this instructor didn't do any background check to see if they are active in the social media networks. I work in non-profit and would like to teach youth about social media but I won't do it till I have some credible presence which i'm working on.

    Great post and you nailed it. You gotta walk the talk and that applies to any helping-type profession.

    Reply
    • I bet they did a background check, but I also bet that they were either stuck or had to use this person based on a more senior relationship (politics, etc...). It's an awkward choice - especially because of the credibility of the organization.

      Reply
  • Posted by Greg Bates
    Mitch Joel

    After spending the three years since graduating from university doing greyhat affiliate marketing, I realized that I was paying bills but not really doing any meaningful work that would get me where I wanted to go in social media.... I've just recently started thinking seriously about how I'm going to catch up and start increasing my own digital footprint so I can build the career I actually want...

    First up is blogging regularly. If you click through one of my comments you'll find my last post was in 2008... Clearly the mark of a social media guru!

    This stuff should be taught at universities, but then again I guess it's still over the heads of most, even if they are fairly web savvy.

    Reply
    • I discussed this in a earlier comment... it would be great to get a "train the trainer" system going for these instructors and professors. It could be a game-changer... and I hate the word, "game-changer"!

      Reply
  • Posted by Ara Pehlivanian
    Mitch Joel

    Amen, brother. Amen.

    Reply
  • Posted by Mal Chia
    Mitch Joel

    Cliche as it is, I 100% agree with you Mitch. I recently came across the same situation with a so-called expert who was meant to be running some social media workshops for colleagues of mine. After they asked my opinion of him and if I knew him (I didn't), I did some digging around and found roughly the same things you did.

    IMHO social media is too nascent for a professional not to be totally immersed in this world themselves. Especially with the fundamental change social media has caused in the ways we communicate and interact with one another, the only way to effectively advise others is to be doing it yourself.

    Reply
    • If we say it's about these real interactions between real human beings, but the person instructing it isn't living it... what does that say? I think it is different from other business and professional industries... but that could well be my own bias.

      Reply
  • Posted by Jordan L
    Jordan L

    Hopefully there’s room for another point of view here. Despite the apparent frustration that some of you are experiencing about so-called experts not walking and talking, consider this: being an expert doesn't mean you'll be a great teacher, and being a great teacher doesn't mean you're an expert. In other words, just because you’re immersed in something, doesn’t make you qualified to teach it. You could be getting it all wrong for all we know. Who’s to judge?

    Reply
    • I'm actually happy that there are some people who disagree with me. It is a slippery slope. I think the issue I'm crystalizing when it comes to Social Media and teaching, is that they very nature of the channel is about how social a brand and individual is. In this instance, it feels like a single-introvert is trying to teach a course on dating to get married.

      We all know how to get married (right?), but would you take marriage counselling from someone who has been divorced five times, or from someone who has never been married?

      I would not, but I am sure there are those that would... and best of luck to them!

      Reply
  • Posted by Travis Guthman
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch,

    Thanks for the post! I'm new to most social media...we own and operate a restaurant and are in the process of expanding our social media activities. From what I have seen, read, and participated in, I am convinced that someone who is highly involved in the "scene" has the tools to teach/educate others. I am learning to be wise and research who/what I follow!

    Reply
  • Posted by Axiom
    Mitch Joel


    Really good blog Mitch. I'm going to share this post.

    Cheers.

    Reply
  • Posted by Ava Chisling
    Mitch Joel

    I recently interviewed a so-called "expert" on social media and technology. His website boasted of more than 30 years experience (in what, I am not sure). This guy spends more than 200 days per year travelling around the world, speaking to renowned companies for a high fee and at various conferences, also for a high fee.

    I asked his opinion on the best way for a company to handle any tech problems that arise when moving offices. He happily explained to me that the most important thing a company can do is time its move to coincide with the release of the annual Yellow Pages directory. If not, he said, the company should wait until the following year to move.

    I thought he was kidding. He was not.

    Reply
    • I can't comment because it's hard to type while using both of my hands to try to pick my jaw off of the floor. I'm not belittling the Yellow Pages, but it's a minor component of the bigger picture...

      Reply
  • Posted by Mike McGrail
    Mitch Joel

    This post nails it! Nobody can truly understand the social media space until they have consistently engaged across a number of channels. At that point there is still a heck of a lot to learn before they start to even think about offering social media services. Track record is key and too many are acting as consultants without any real experience or original thinking to add to the mix.

    It is a subject I am very passionate about as anybody who has read my blog recently will know!

    Thanks for writing this Mitch.

    Reply
  • Posted by Eric Pratum
    Mitch Joel

    You have to be able to walk the talk. Yes, your social media or other online presences might not be the biggest or most followed, but you still have to publicly demonstrate understanding of them. You might have a sort of coach-player situation, where you're better at telling/teaching people how to do the things than you are at doing them yourself, but even still, coaches, who don't happen to be the best performers, know enough to make themselves halfway competitive with everyone else out there.

    As a social media consultant, you don't have time to blog daily? Fine. Put up a blog & make it clear that you only post once each month. The same goes for Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, & whatever else. Anything less makes your understanding of the subject questionable.

    Reply
    • Great extension of the post. Not all people who "do" Social Media can teach Social Media and not all people who "teach" Social Media can "do" it all that well. I'm fine with that, if you can really demonstrate it. I question the integrity when stuff like a LinkedIn profile is out of date... especially if it's one of the first organic searches that appears.

      Reply
      • Posted by Eric Pratum
        Mitch Joel

        Thanks, Mitch, and yeah, most definitely. If you're any sort of online marketing consultant, you need to understand the effects that search and perception can have on you. Now that I say that though, I think I still have a MySpace profile up that I haven't checked in 6 months. I might have to make sure it's now showing up too high in my search results...well if it's at all representative of my professional presence online ;-)

        Reply
  • Posted by Chris Hayes
    Mitch Joel

    Great post Mitch!

    I have had the chance to hear you speak a few times, and I would completely agree with many of the sentiments posted here.

    Its one thing to actually say "you're in the social media space", but are you actually there getting your hands dirty? Are you actively engaging customers, clients, peers, etc. Are you using their feedback, comments to make your product/and/or/service better?


    Reply
  • Posted by Luis F. Mejía
    Mitch Joel

    Do you think professionals need to be able to "walk the talk"?
    Absolutely. If you are paraplegic, you can not interact with and teach anyone to dance the Tango.

    Reply
  • Posted by Louise Brown
    Mitch Joel

    Absolutely spot on. There's a lot of people that talk social media and there's a lot of people that use social media.

    Those that do both tend to be the most useful when it comes to guerrilla marketing.

    Reply
  • Posted by mathew
    Mitch Joel

    This sort of thing has become so common this year in Brussels that I post about it regularly. Last week, for example, was a conference on public communications. There was a session about web2.0. I asked the session leader beforehand what experience any of the speakers had. He replied, but didn't answer.

    The conference site has a 'community'. With no conversations. I and others tweeted this. They didn't engage.

    And yet the conference seemed to have been rated quite well by those who attended. Those who have a clue, of course, didn't attend.

    Reply
  • Posted by Matt Owen
    Mitch Joel

    Great post Mitch and absolutely on the money. I'm glad we finally seem to be entering a phase where people are weeding out the various 'gurus' and 'experts' and looking for trained, knowledgable staff who can actually provide solid RI for them. Being able to set up a Facebook page and a Twitter account does not make someone an expert (in fact, the field is so diverse I'm very wary of anyone calling themselves an expert at all - you can be familiar with social media tools and practiced in their use, but certainly not an expert in them all).
    I've been writing a few blog posts over at econsultancy.com recently about this, trying to show what it is I, and fellow SM professionals actually do (or should be doing) at a nuts and bolts, day-to-day level. it's fine to talk about tone of voice and engaging an audience, but if you can't locate that audience in the first place, or interact with them in a stlye that suits the brand, what use are you? I think we'll see a drop off in the number of hucksters in the near future (or at least, hope we will) as businesses become increasingly familiar with the medium.

    If you're interested - and will excuse the self promotion - you can see my post on this here:http://ecly.co/cKRXqw

    Thanks -again, really good article

    Matt

    Reply
  • Posted by Cameron Norman
    Cameron Norman

    There are a lot of people who sell things that they are not particularly proficient in, yet know a lot about. There are also those who are just good at selling things, whether they are good or not. The issue of walking-the-talk is interesting when it comes to social media. I could pick up your book and a few of the others on social media by folks like Julien Smith, Chris Brogan, Brian Solis and others, study it and get the main points of social media. If I'm a quick and attentive study and a good communicator, I can probably teach the fundamentals to people too. I don't fault some for being entrepreneurial.

    But those of us who live in the social media landscape also know that what you write, and what you do, are different even if they look the same on the page. Knowing how to manage a Twitter feed or write an engaging blog is different than doing it. A person can read travel guides until their eyes pop out, but won't get the feel for a place until they've talked to people who've been to their place of interest, lived there, or better yet, been their themselves. There is a qualitative difference.

    And if social media engagement, competitiveness and innovation are a game of inches, then this makes all the difference.

    But one issue I have is that too many people have NO IDEA what a good or more authentic social media advisor looks like in the first place. So they won't be checking Foursquare, Twitter, or YouTube for that person. Googling is maybe all that client will do. And that is why these non-experienced social media types will continue to find business clients.

    Reply
    • Full of gems - thanks for pushing the Blog post forward. Any ideas on how to equalize this highly unbalanced landscape? I'm recommend a "train the trainers" type of initiative. What have you been thinking?

      Reply
  • Posted by Denis DuBois
    Mitch Joel

    If a student has studied integrated marketing communications, then most of what they need to know about social media is how to operate the tools.

    If they haven't first learned how marcom integrates, then a social media marketing workshop is likely to give them the mistaken idea that social media drives marketing.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    I feel your pain. I have seen conferences held in Italy be so called "social media experts" I couldn't find *anywhere* even with a simple google search (apart the conference website itself). That's also probably why real experts don't tag themselves as experts and the ones who do often aren't expert at all.

    Reply
  • Posted by Tova
    Mitch Joel

    Interesting considering there are so many people and companies that are not involved in social media in any real way.

    We find that many smaller companies are still in the "getting to know you" phase of using social media. Interested, but scared.

    I think the real point of this post can be translated into any activity, be it social media or not. If you want to be an expert, if you want to seen as an expert, then you must be engrossed in that activity. It almost doesn't matter if you are good at it, just that you do it and you know HOW to do it.

    The main difference can be summed up in the old adage: Those that can, do. That that can't, teach!

    Reply
    • You said: "If you want to be an expert, if you want to seen as an expert, then you must be engrossed in that activity. It almost doesn't matter if you are good at it, just that you do it and you know HOW to do it."

      I like that... a lot.

      Reply
  • Posted by Mike Ewing
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch-

    Some great points, and as someone who works with nonprofits, many of whom have very limited funding to begin with, I'm 'really worried that the social media arena is one where people can too easily be taken advantage of. As with any emerging technology/social trend, people are feeling some unspoken pressure to jump on the social media bandwagon without knowing exactly why they should do. So anyone who comes along with what looks like a lifeline is seen as a savior, even if all they do is tangle up the organization in a barrage of Facebook/Twitter/Foursquare recommendations and leave with their wallets.

    I will never call myself a "social media guru." While that title was nice for a time, for me it's a red flag for "trust me, I'm a rockstar."

    @Ric Dragon- Big points for the Cyrano reference.

    Reply
  • Posted by John Fenton
    Mitch Joel

    Not sure that it's that valid of a litmus test. From what I've seen in most marketing firms, the guys that are managing the social media programs do not have that much of a social media presence. Since these are the one directing the show I would be far more interested in their views than I would be of the ones in the trenches. Too many of the people who are really active, can't seem to see the forest through the trees.

    That said... if your going to go out public speaking, I would think you would do a tad bit more to establish yourself first.

    Reply
  • Posted by Kyla
    Mitch Joel

    Thanks for this one Mitch - it needs a "love" button!

    Reply
  • Posted by Joel Lazeski
    Mitch Joel

    Great post Mitch! It is interesting how some individuals or even companies are qualifying themselves as experts in this field. I just ran a seminar myself for 150 clients in food service and I was quite happy with the result although I do believe that because of the exponentially fast development of the industry it is very challenging to give people accurate and useful information of how to apply tactics from a groundroots level.

    There are so many skills, tools and techniques to be congicent of which are constantly changing based on measured success, I found it difficult to get all the most exciting points across. For future seminars and training sessions I will be breaking the training into several sessions that are separated by enought time for the users to apply to techniques, gain comfort with the tool and potentially even see results.

    I really like Mike Ewings point on "Social Guruism" and I have noticed that terminology flung around more freely than it should be. I prefer the coaching terminology as it refers to ongoing support and learning to a "strategized" goal, not just a show off.

    Thanks

    @joellazeski

    Reply
    • The challenge is that Social Media is not "one thing." It's many, many things and that means that the tactics are minimal when layered against a true strategy. Your Social Media stuff probably looks nothing like mine for that exact reason :)

      Reply
  • Posted by Phil Wylie
    Mitch Joel

    Great post and interesting view point. I think I will agree with Jordan as one of the few expressing a (slightly) different point view. While I agree that social media expertise is new and therefore if you're not using it, you probably don't get it- I also think that Jordan's point is important. Experts usually make horrible trainers. They include too many details, they miss tying things into a simpler context for participants who don't have the same knowledge level and they generally don't follow good learning techniques. I think that you can be a great trainer, who has very little experience- but this does all depend on the design of the learning content. Because social media is so new, and theories are all just emerging, I think that right now it's probably true- you probably need to walk the talk to add value as a trainer. But as more theories emerge, more experts share resources and processes- it becomes easier for a quality learning professional to adapt those into successful learning without having to have tweeted one million times, used facebook to promote a business, etc....
    my 2 cents as a learning professional....

    Reply
    • I don't disagree with the concept at all. You don't have to be the heavyweight champion of the world to be an incredible boxing coach (I should know, I worked with trainers like this). I guess it was more surprising - than anything else - to see someone so "experienced" but their own spaces (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc...) - which are supposed to be the fun ones - are barren. It just struck me as not-so-acceptable.

      Reply
  • Posted by Julie J.
    Mitch Joel

    I totally agree with this article. As easy as it is to tell a lie, now a days it is just as easy to caught in that lie. There is an endless amount of information on the web today from Google searches to Facebook pages, and our lives are no longer as private as they use to be. If a person wants to look like an expert on something, they now need a lot more than just their word to convince people that they are legitimate. In a way, I think that this is a good step in the right direction. People must be more accountable for their actions because they now know that every step can be traced and every lie can be detected.

    Reply
    • If you're claiming to be able to teach this stuff, I think it's sad that you can't really demonstrate it. Even if this individual is doing it for clients, why not show it with some links/case studies?

      Reply
  • Posted by Anne
    Mitch Joel

    Great post. Makes me think. I am someone who learns best by doing and so have immersed myself in social media for the past few months in order to really understand how it fits in with overall marketing strategy and how to actually "do" it. But if one considers social media part of the marketing tool box is it not sufficient to have a good understanding of the strategic value of the medium and high level knowledge of of how it works? Maybe this is provided you have someone on your team who knows the in and outs to execute. When it comes to teaching, I suppose it comes down to the subject of the seminar - if it's social strategy I'd be more inclined to accept someone who has less day to day knowledge of the medium, if its more tactical than I'd want an active practitioner. Having said all that - I do believe these days, at the very least one should expect an active LinkedIn profile these days. If one professes to be a marketer, you'd hope they be good at marketing themselves first and foremost!

    Reply
    • The search engines do not lie. They bleed with your experience (or lack of...). Again, if the individual isn't engaged, but the work they're doing for clients is, that should come up (awards, mentions, etc...), but when it's a blank canvas... it's time to panic.

      Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    I agree that you need to be able to "walk the talk", but if their target audience has no social media experience, has no idea what a Facebook is, their might be a little benefit for that person talking in that space. Being a social media consultant or digital media marketer competing in the mainstream marketing place, you should be well versed and very experienced to engage your audience. As long as you are an expert for the audience you are targeting, it is fine.

    The example you cite in your post with having no blog, and all the other social avenues have fallen apart is an extreme case that could not be deemed an expert in any social media demographic, but their are varying degrees of everything.

    Reply
  • Posted by MelodyO
    Mitch Joel

    All I know is that lately I've realized that every Tom, Dick, and Harry claims to be some sort marketing guru, branding biz person, social medial expert, or entrepreneur, or even social media entrepreneur on twitter in their profiles regardless of how few or how many followers/ following they have. I'm stunned how many of these profiles there are. Even if they cannot fake it, oh they're trying so hard to fake it. Twitter can be a costume. Anybody can wear any words they want in those 160 profile characters. Just give me real people, please, even if some of your tweets make no sense to me because I don't know much about sports teams. And companies using social media need to show their real side too. Thanks for the interesting article Mitch.

    Reply
    • I'm doubtful that you can fake it... I just don't think it's all that possible any more. If you say you're a world-class speaker and there are 100 people following you, that says everything you need to know.

      Reply
  • Posted by Kneale Mann
    Mitch Joel

    I am not a social media expert and neither are you.
    I am a social media expert and so are you.

    If you want to hire someone but fail to carry out the same exercise most HR professionals do and check the person's credentials online, emptor meet caveat.

    Reply
  • Posted by Manon
    Manon

    I agree with you Mitch when you say that the expert needs to walk the talk... however, can you tell me if you find it realistic that a large company ask its (soon to be) community manager to be THE expert and fix all the problems of its customers online with 140 characters on twitter and yes, with a fair bit of space on facebook (but under the eyes of everybody!) on top of trying to get engage in the community rather than dispatching these customers (with their problems) to the real experts internally (call centres, reservations, customer services, baggage services (transportation cie), etc.?? Fine if it's nice & easy to fix or refer them with links to the website, but god knows that problems are never that easy to fix especially when you get the details online via twitter or facebook... To me it's only time consuming and not putting the expertise to the right place... Would love to hear what you have to say about that...

    Reply
    • Posted by Manon
      Manon

      ... And I'm not event talking about the (real) possibilities of hiring a young geek who knows nothing about the business and become THE expert just because he/she knows the drill with social media. All that to say that I'm wondering who is the real expert here...

      My 2 cents.

      Reply
      • Knowing how to use Facebook is one thing. Knowing how to use Facebook to grow your business is another thing. Know how to use Twitter is one thing. Knowing how to use Twitter as a way to replace your customer service is another thing.

        I think you know where I am going with this.

        Reply
        • Posted by Manon
          Manon

          To this exact point... isn't it this learning curve the easiest one to deal with rather than learning all about the business or I'm totally out of it?

          But more than that. How can you expect someone to know how to fix all the problems when it's a full time job just to get engage with the community and provide good customer service?

          Reply
  • Posted by Jim Hopkinson
    Mitch Joel

    Totally agree Mitch. I'm literally walking the walk right now. I'm teaching a social media class, and it feels so good to be LIVING this, knowing that I can answer any question they throw at me. I couldnt imagine trying to fake it.

    Tonight not only did I talk about podcasting, but I brought in my mic, garage band, and demo'd how to do a podcast live. At the end, they applauded. I'm sure most have never seen anything like that.

    Is it a good thing that people can easily verify all the social media checkpoints on people in the age of the transparent internet? It is if you can back it up!

    Great post.

    Reply
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