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Seven Signs Your Social Media Coach Is a Fraud

Ouch. Painful headline. But The VAR Guy is growing tired of social media "experts" trying to make a buck off of small businesses that are desperate to bolster their online identities. So, how can you tell a true social media expert from a pretender? Here are seven clues.

The VAR Guy

March 17, 2010

4 Min Read
Seven Signs Your Social Media Coach Is a Fraud

social media guru

Ouch. Painful headline. But The VAR Guy is growing tired of social media “experts” trying to make a buck off of small businesses that are desperate to bolster their online identities. So, how can you tell a true social media expert from a pretender? Here are seven clues.

First, let’s rewind a bit. What exactly inspired today’s tirade from The VAR Guy? Lack of sleep, plus three lattes, plus a bunch of unsolicited notes from aspiring social media gurus who, um, spend too much time on Facebook.

No doubt, there are some real social media pros helping VARs and solutions providers. Stuart Crawford comes to mind. After a successful run as a solutions provider, Crawford is now part of ulistic — a company that advises Calgary businesses on various social media strategies. Another name to know: David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR. He wrote that book before most “pundits” typed their first Tweet.

Now, let’s assume you’re a solutions provider that’s trying to bolster your social media presence. How can you find a truly helpful coach rather than a pretenda? Here are seven signs you might be dealing with a social media fraud:

1. I Say I Lead, But I Really Follow: Check the coach’s Twitter feed. If the guru is following 2,000 people but has fewer than 2,000 followers, then the guru just failed the most basic Twitter rule of all: Following too many people too fast, in a vain attempt to gain more followers.

If you follow 2,000 people BEFORE 2,000 people follow you, then Twitter basically freezes your account until you either (A) stop following a few folks or (B) more people start following you.

If all that sounds confusing just remember this: If the guru seems to be following people just to get followed, you know you’re working with a follower — not a leader. Got that?

2. I Can’t Automate Feeds From A Blog to RSS to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter: The best social media gurus spend most of their time running their own communities — and automating their messages out to third-party systems like FaceBook and Twitter.

Sure, gurus pop into FaceBook from time to time. But if the expert can’t automate the way information flows from your web site to third-party social media sites, then you’re dealing with a fraud.

3. I Forget the True Purpose of Social Media: The true purpose of social media is to serve as a highway, and drive conversations back to your business Web site. The idea is to use FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn as highways to your home page or corporate site.

If the Social Media guru offers Twitter advice before spending time analyzing your web site, you’re dealing with a fraud.

4. I Don’t Know the Difference Between WordPress and Blogger.com: Quick, quiz your social media coach about WordPress, Blogger.com, Ning, Drupal and other common platforms. What are the major similarities? Major differences? Pricing models? Hosting models? Hmmm… Lots of questions. Does your guru have the answers?

5. I’m A Pro… But I Can’t Prove It: Quick, ask your guru for three examples of his or her social media success. Got a blog site that has hundreds of inbound links? Build a community where the dialog never stops? Ask your guru for those types of examples.

Oh, and ask for examples of search engine optimization that land on the first page of Google search results.

6. I Blog A Lot… But I Don’t Know How to Measure Success: So, how exactly does a social media guru measure his or her success helping clientele? Number of media hits? Number of leads? And how are leads measured? Social media results can be pretty abstract and hard to define. But try your best to define metrics for success.

7. I Change My Identity. Constantly: My Twitter ID changes every week. I shift from one blog URL to a new blog URL every few weeks. My web site design shifts constantly because I use free templates that everybody else uses and they grow old quickly.

Find a guru who actually spent a few bucks designing a nice online presence of their own. If the guru can’t afford to invest a few bucks in his or her online presence, then chances are the guru isn’t much of a guru.

Exit, Stage Left

Sorry for the rant. It’s been building for about two years. The VAR Guy is now done with his third latte of the day. And he’s done with this blog entry. Best wishes for a successful online presence.

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