You can’t fault companies for being a little leery when it seems like everyone is calling themselves a “social media expert.” According to CNET, social media has a bubble of experts right now.
No doubt this recession will cause a shakeout of so-called social media experts and we’ll be left with a core group of people who are skilled in the field and committed to it for the long term. That’s always the problem when you have a field with low barriers to entry: a computer, internet connection and a business card.
Some people have said to “fake it ‘til you make it” but we’re not fond of that advice. If we are going to give someone advice on social media strategy, it’s because we know it’s the right advice for them at that time. Our team works hard to stay on top of social media trends and we do extensive research, for our clients and for our company. This runs counter to the “fake it” crowd.
What to look for in a social media strategist
In one year there will likely be many fewer social media experts if the recession has anything to do with it, so how do you sort out the wheat from the chaff, or to put it another way, those who are making it from those who are faking it?
Track record – how much experience do they have with social media? Are they actually using social media effectively? Are they walking the walk?
Who are their clients – and how long have those clients been with them? It’s probably a good sign if they’ve got several longer term clients, but they may do a lot of project work too.
What have their successes been – it’s not always possible to boil successes down into hard numbers. It’s nice when you can, but sometimes success is nebulous. Successfully getting a company into the social media space and using it regularly might be a spectacular success though there are no numbers associated with it. It’s even better when you can show hard numbers. Ultimately it’s about successfully engaging their audience or community.
Social media campaigns, like regular marketing campaigns, do fail. But why do they fail? A good part of it is because many companies don’t understand web 2.0 and social media. They want to use old-style push marketing in social media and it just doesn’t resonate with the web community.
Companies fail to see that they really are part of a community and the most important aspect of the community is conversation and listening. They just see the web as another marketing vehicle with more customers.
It requires a cultural and attitudinal shift to really succeed in web 2.0. That doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed at all without it, but if you want to be the best, you have to change cultures and attitudes.
As the recession shakes out the makers from the fakers, one thing is clear, fusedlogic will still be making it in social media one year from now and for years to come.