Do Not Trust: Self-Proclaimed Social Media “Consultants” Are Dangerous

by Susanna Gebauer (@dreckbaerfrau)

I am active on Social Media – ok I am very active. Obviously, that puts me on the radar of many people who want to sell things, even the consultants who want to sell me social media advice.

I get sales pitches by social media consultants all the time. And to say the least, there has not been one social media consultant who pitched me, who I would have hired, even if I were looking for help with my social media activity.

That got me thinking: What do they do wrong? And what would be criteria that would make me believe in their expertise and knowledge and maybe make me get in touch or recommend them?

After all, I “met” several social media consultants in social media, who I think do a brilliant job…

Bragging is Dangerous

A while ago, someone contacted me to suggest him taking over our Social Media activity. To proof his knowledge about Twitter he bragged with his 500 (!) Followers. And a closer look at his twitter account revealed that he was only tweeting promotional tweets about some videos to watch. Since he was German the follower-number itself should be seen in relation to Germany being a rather small country (cough), but since he was contacting someone whose Twitter account at that time was quickly approaching 100.000 Followers, that shows two things: He has no clue about Twitter and he did not look up my accounts before getting in touch. Both facts do not really serve to build trust.

Only recently I got an even worse sales pitch. At least we have to admit they tried to make the pitch look good:

We have not really gotten to their pitch and already everything is going wrong. Do I have to explain that I am not working in the travel & tourism sector? And again a closer look at their Twitter and Facebook accounts showed no relevant activity, I would “like” or want for my own accounts.

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So what would make me trust a social media consultant? 

Let me start with a question: If social media is such a great thing for businesses – Would you trust a social media consultant who does not use social media for his business?

I wouldn’t! That is why I always have a look at their social media accounts first.

I am no necessarily looking for huge numbers of likes, followers and posts (after all, you can buy those). It’s  not the largest accounts that are the best consultants, but the ones that get it right. It is more about what they do on social media and how rather than pure numbers. If a “social media consultant” only posts sales-links on Twitter – never, ever am I going to turn over my accounts to this guy.

Since I am into content marketing for building a brand and a reputation and from my point of view social media and content only work in combination, I also look at the content these people produce: their blog, possibly guest posts or whatever else I can find. A social media agency whose last blog post was published more than half a year ago – I do not think, I would trust them…

So, who would I trust? Someone active in social media, who posts in a way that I would love to follow, with a nice blog where he/she gives advice and insights. If people cannot provide that – I think they should not call themselves social media consultants. They seem to need advice themselves.