Hiring a social media strategist is a bad idea

B.L. Ochman has kept me entertained with his various articles poking fun at the proliferation of people claiming to be social media gurus. His most recent article about how the number of self-proclaimed “social media guru” titles has gone down but other, but new titles are emerging got me thinking:

Hiring a [social media] strategist, guru, consultant, or any other title is a bad idea for 99% of the companies I come in contact with.

Now, before someone with that title gets all upset and leaves me a heated comment, let me explain why I feel this way.

Social media is a very small piece of what it takes for the majority of businesses to succeed online, pure and simple. Hiring someone who is a recently name social media _________ is a bad idea, because it’s very likely that person knows little about many of the other tools in the online marketing arsenal.  It takes years of study, trial and error, discipline, and a little luck; to become an effective online marketer.  Do you really want to hire someone who has mastered Twitter and Facebook to manage your online strategy?

If you think you need a social media strategist, then I’m going to make a very educated guess and say that is probably only a part (maybe a small part) of what you need.  Most businesses I start working with are not doing many of the other fundamental things right – so why would you jump into social media?!

If you’re not effectively marketing to search engines and generating qualified traffic that converts, then you have work to do before diving into social media.

If you are not segmenting your customers with email lists, cross-promoting to them and building loyalty and referrals, then you have work to do before diving into social media.

These are some sweeping generalizations, but it boils down to this: you need an online strategist, not a social media __________. You need someone who can look at your business and craft a solution from all the many tools in the online marketing toolbox, not just push you into social media because it’s what everyone wants to talk about right now.

1 reply
  1. U. REHMAN
    U. REHMAN says:

    Hi James,
    I totally agree with your point of view and few days back wrote my opinion regarding social marketing & communication on twitter. With your permission, I am copy / pasting my rough note in support of your article:

    Carpet sellers on Twitter

    In my past professional life i attended and participated in many seminars and events normally organized by big IT giants or by IT marketing event companies.
    Normally in such events all participating companies are present with their best sales, presales persons heavily equiped to target potential prospects and customers.
    Every person passing by the stalls is attacked with a hope that he is a potential client. It gave me always a feeling of asian/african bazar where sellers are approaching every passing by tourist with a hope that he will buy their goods for a handsome sum.
    in such seminars/events normally partcipating companies end up trying to sell other participating company’s employees and after discoveringthis usually share ideas like: how to attract IT directors or Financial directors?
    Besides that the majority of visitors to such events are “goodies collectors”, who visit each stall and grab goodies without wasting much of their time as they have to collect other goodies grom other stalls.

    Recently, i started using Twitter and it reminded me of the same situation.
    Today you will find a large number of
    so called “community managers” of social medias.
    They follow every person on twitter with hope that they will start following them.
    Once they have reached their objective they start tweeting for their companies nice offers, saving discounts, fan clubs, facebook pages etc. like african carpet sellers they go to maximum extend of chasing you. Like sales at events, they offer you goodies like free advices to grab your attention. They request you to retweet their messages to you friends as for them this is the only noble cause left on this plannet or the discount they are offering is the only golden opportunity of this century.

    The social media marketing is a hot topic but unfortunately, very few knows the difference between effective social marketing and carpet selling.

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