You don’t need a “social media consultant”

That there are people in this world whose job title is “social media consultant” makes me a sad panda. It’s the job of these people to tell other people how to use social media. Some of these very same people make it a point to tell their clients (and the world at large) that there is no right or wrong way to use social media, and that if anyone tells you differently, they’re dirty filthy liars.

They advise on, essentially, how to be social.

Let me repeat that. They advise people on how to be social. Because obviously it’s social media, and that’s what you do. You go be social.

So why is there this (perceived) need for consultants? Why is it that so many people find the entire concept of social media incomprehensible?

LEGO figure with worried expression
This guy says, 'You hired a WHAT?'

Here’s the deal. If you’re an individual and you don’t “get” social media, fine. No problem. Just don’t create an account on a network, and you are set. If you’re a business, however, you’ve got yourself a bit of a dilemma. People expect businesses, especially large businesses, to be on Twitter. And Facebook. And Yelp and Foursquare and MySpace and everywhere else. It’s the new default customer service channel, like it or not.

So you’re a business, and you’ve been talked into joining Twitter, but oh noez you don’t know how to social media-ize on these newfangled interweb things! I KNOW. Let’s hire a consultant! Everyone loves consultants.

Wrong. You don’t need a social media consultant.

You need to be social.

If you absolutely can’t be social, find someone who can be, and hire them to be social for you. It’s better to have someone working with your social presence full time than someone who stops by to check up on how you’re doing. Really, it’s not that hard to be successful on social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook. Be personable, respond to people’s comments appropriately, don’t tweet while drunk, and just generally interact with your community. Yes, it can be hard work, and no, it won’t get you a million followers in a day. But it’s genuine, and it’s not a difficult concept. You don’t need some “guru” to tell you that.

But you’re welcome to send me a check for letting you know.

Photo by Eric Constantineau. (License: Creative Commons)

4 thoughts on “You don’t need a “social media consultant”

  1. Tom, you have some great ideas about how to use technology that facilitates online interaction between people. If you will please let me know your hourly rate, I’ll pay you to discuss these theories with my clients. Wadda ya say? 😉

  2. I respectfully disagree with much of what you say…. mainly because 80% of people are clueless, and 90% of businesses are clueless.

    There’s also a large number of companies (most?) that don’t know how to do it, and can’t just hire someone to do it, and even if they did, would that person be the right “voice” for the company?

  3. That’s true enough, and obviously I’m not taking all the different possibilities into consideration here. I’m sure there are some legitimate situations in which it’s more beneficial to a company to hire a consultant temporarily to advise them on how to get started.

    But is someone that you’re hiring from outside your company any better of a “voice for the company” than someone internal?

    And really, my complaint is with people like Chris Brogan et al, who spout nonsense about how they’re “social media gurus” who follow 150,000 people and don’t see any tweets at all. That’s not the kind of person I want businesses taking advice from.

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