If you throw a stone into Social Media, you're going to put an expert's eye out. I have never before seen such a glut of confusion as that which exists in terms of Social Media and who you should trust to help you make the most of it. 

Ted Baxter - News Expert
Let me ask you a question – are news anchors experts on the news? Maybe, you say? Ok, but can they help solve the problems that the news (constantly) presents? Sure, they're nice and they're pretty to look at and they usually have a very solid delivery – but they're mostly just copy-readers. The same can be said of most of the self-professed 'experts' in Social Media (SM.) They know how to make you trust them, and know how to spin some of what swirls around them so that they sound like they know what they're talking about – but most of it is regurgitated (RT'd) information they've distilled from Seth Godin's blog. If you're lucky, they actually understand the core concepts of SM. If you're really lucky, they're capable of auditing your specific scenario, creating a solid SM strategy, helping train you and your staff, launching your project and then monitoring it to ensure you're positioned for a strong ROI. 

Good luck. 

What can you do? Well, if you're a company looking to expand your marketing/advertising and customer/public relations via SM – avoid people who wear ties in their avatar. No, really. These avatars simply state that they know you're looking for them. This isn't to say that all people wearing ties in avatars are fauxperts, but there is an element of traditionalism that exists in the business world which makes everyone skeptical of new ideas and technologies. To overcome the unfamiliar, one looks for the familiar. If you've engaged in traditional sales and marketing in the past and you see a white man with a tie on who doesn't look like an axe murderer and who has 20,000 followers, you're naturally more inclined to gravitate toward this visual image than someone with mussed up hair wearing a Che tee shirt and with a small, but loyal, follower base. 

Do yourself a favor, when considering your Social Media consultant or firm, look beyond the buzzwords, the million-dollar smile and the Dior tie. Most of the time these experts are only going to say what you want to hear anyway – which is exactly how we got stuck in traditional thinking in the first place. 

Jim Mitchem

eleven minutes
A Jumping Off Point

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.