The 3 Essential Qualities of a TRUE Social Media Expert

by Marcus Sheridan

No, really, I'm awesome with this social media stuff...

Right now, there are literally thousands of businesses out there in the world looking for social media help, advice, and guidance. And like any other industry, the social media realm is full of “legit experts,” “not-so-legit experts,” and “please-call-me-a-guru-even-though-I’m-not experts.”

Personally, over the last 3 years, I’ve seen many “experts” in this industry come and go. I’ve also seen many companies hire smart people and get huge results while at the same time there have been handfuls of others hire supposed “experts” that have done nothing but put a hurt on the company’s P & L statement with their false promises and frankly stupid social media strategies.

Throughout this process, I’ve seen definitive trends and qualities that dictate the most successful social media (including content marketing here) experts and the ones that might talk big but have very little to back it up.

3 Essential Qualities of a True Social Media Expert

1. They understand that “rules” are always changing, and every industry is different: I unabashedly admit that I love Mitch Joel. I feel he has the best podcast on the web and absolutely enjoy listening/reading his musings on all things social, digital, and marketing. In a recent article entitled The Old(Revolving) Rules, Mitch says:

If I explained to you how I managed to join with my business partners here at Twist Image and how we built the business to be successful, do you think it’s a model that you could replicate? Look at Instagram. Do you think that’s a model you can replicate? Here’s the thing: in a world where you can now do almost anything in these digital channels, what makes you think that any kind of best practice is actually going to provide a semblance of success for your brand? Show me a successful story and I’ll show you many exceptions with very few rules….

A friend recently decided to get more active on Twitter. Because they have some visibility in the marketplace (they’re a known entity in media), they asked whether or not they should follow everyone back on Twitter who is following them. Had you asked me this question when Twitter first started out, I would have said “yes!” Had you asked me this question two years ago, I would have said “no, follow back only those people that you find interesting.” Being asked that question the other day, I was stumped. Why? Because the answer is yes, you should and no, you shouldn’t and/or be very selective.

The bottom line is EVERYTHING is different. Every company is unique. Every industry is unique. Every platform is unique. And because of this, every marketing plan has to be unique and tailored to that individual company and its needs.

This is also why when someone preaches the exact same strategy for every single business and every single industry, then you know they’re likely a fool, and certainly no “expert.”

2. They freely admit they’re NOT for everyone:

The thought that every social media expert is the right “fit” for every single company is ridiculous. And the thought that every single blog is the right fit for every single reader is also foolish. This is exactly why a true “expert” will freely admit when they’re simply not a good option for a company.

As a small example of what I’m talking about, read this post from Chris Brogan. In it, as he is talking about his blog, he says:

Do you read the top tech and marketing blogs? Why? Why do you read this blog? Because you’re subscribed? Are you getting something from it? If no, then why are you still doing it?

That, my friends, is called honesty and transparency, and it’s an essential element of a true social media expert and thought-leader.

3. They can put their money where their mouth is:

This one is huge for me. Putting your money where your mouth is, in my opinion, is demonstrated in two ways:

                1. Performance-Based Contracts: Recently, I took on a 12-month content marketing consulting project with a company of about 150 employees. The strategies I’m implementing with this organization have never been done before in their industry, but I’m also fully confident the plan will work, assuming they do their part and allow me to do mine. But because the concepts I’m bringing in are so novel, and because they’re taking on a decent financial risk (at least in their minds), my compensation is heavy on performance-based incentives. In other words, because we’ll be tracking the ROI (as I always do) of the campaign, we’ll have certain benchmarks laid out that will equate to further compensation on my part. In other words, if the strategy works, I get paid well. If the strategy fails, I don’t get paid much.

                2. Been there, done that: A lot of people in this world can sound smart. Heck, a lot of people in this world can even write a book, get it published, and keynote an event. But the real sign of “experience” and “expertise” is when an individual has gone into a company, implemented a strategy, and gotten results—results that can, in fact, be shown. For example, if a social media “expert” makes consistent references to success stories of their clients in their blog/writings, there is a good chance they actually “get it” and aren’t just yapping about it. To see two folks that do this very well, read Jay Baer or Jason Falls—two guys I see living it, doing it, then talking about their observations on a daily basis.

In fact, just after I published this post Jaer Baer quickly jumped in with this excellent and thoughtful comment, really putting it much better than I did:

Your Turn

Are there other qualities that dictate a true social media expert? Yep, there sure are, which is why I have a comment section below—one that is just waiting for your thoughts on this subject. So here are my questions for you:

1. How do you (and your company) gauge a “true” social media expert?

2. If you’ve worked with a SM consultant before, what was your experience like?

Jump in folks, tell us what’s on your mind.

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{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

Jay Baer May 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Thanks Marcus. Much appreciated. I think we’d all be better off if we sought out business or marketing experts that happened to know a lot about social media. That’s the category I try to epitomize, because at the end of the day the goal isn’t to be good at social media. The goal is to be good at business because of social media. And those aren’t the same thing.

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Ryan Hanley May 3, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Jay…

I don’t know you other than by your Rep and a few articles but what you just wrote is very refreshing to read.

Social media isn’t about social media it’s about businesses doing business.

Thanks brother.

Ryan H.

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Jay Baer May 3, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Thanks Ryan. Much appreciated.

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Marcus Sheridan May 4, 2012 at 9:02 am

For the record Ryan, when you meet Jay in real life you’ll be just as impressed if not more. The guy is as real as it gets.

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Ryan Hanley May 4, 2012 at 9:12 am

I believe that and I look forward to the day…

Unfortunately I don’t know if BlogWorld NY is happening for me.

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Marcus Sheridan May 4, 2012 at 9:11 am

One of the best statements I’ve ever read about the stuff we do my man. Can’t wait to catch up in a few days my man.

Marcus

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John @ Married (with Debt) May 3, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Hey Marcus – I agree that we should tell people when they shouldn’t read. I had a commenter at my site get mad about allowing a controversial personal finance writer to guest post at my site. He directed some negative comments my way. I told him I didn’t want him reading my site any more. I think we shouldn’t be afraid to focus on the people we truly want as readers.

As far as a social media expert, it’s all about having someone you can trust. Tactics can be learned, but trust can only be earned.

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Marcus Sheridan May 4, 2012 at 9:09 am

John, by you saying that to the reader is just a sign of how far you’ve come with your blogging “maturity”. What I mean by that is you likely would not have told someone that when you first started writing because you were aiming to please everyone (I’m making an assumption here because that’s exactly how I was and most folks are at the beginning.). But with time you’ve really solidified who you are, your writing style, and know you don’t need to be all things to all people.

And that, my friend, is awesome.

Well done bud,

Marcus

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Ryan Hanley May 3, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Marcus…

Damn dude… On point again!

If I had to add to your list it would be the ability to know when they DON”T know something…

That is huge for me. It’s OK to not be a Jack-of-all-social-media.

If you’re the Facebook master… Awesome. If you’re Blogging Savant… Amazing.

But don’t tell me you know everything there is know about Facebook and Blogging. No way.

Thanks Dude!

Ryan H.

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Marcus Sheridan May 4, 2012 at 9:03 am

Exactly man. That’s my thing. It’s also why I almost never write about Facebook, or LinkedIn, or Twitter—because I pretty much stink at them. :-)

Have a great day brother,

Marcus

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Ryan Hanley May 4, 2012 at 9:14 am

See I think it’s OK if you write about Facebook or Twitter and you’re not the Master as long as you don’t sell yourself as the Master.

I will write about things I learn on those platforms even though I would not consider myself an expert on either as well.

“Hey Gang, I learned this trick it might help…” That kind of thing.

It’s just when you get someone acting as if that Trick is the Be-All-End-All trick to fixing all their readers problems because they said so…

You get my point…

Thanks dude.

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Rebecca Livermore May 4, 2012 at 9:37 am

Ryan,

It sounds to me like you have the right approach. I think it is great to share our journey with others, as long as we make it clear that we’re on a journey, still learning, growing, etc. and simply sharing the process with others. That is actually very inspiring, not to mention just plain honest.

The problem is that many people try to pass themselves off as THE expert on a particular topic with THE secret to success, therefore you absolutely must sign up for THEIR coaching program or whatever, because know one knows what they do.

The truth is, there are quite a few people who are good at various aspects of social media (or whatever) and a few who are spectacular. (And of course people who don’t have a clue what they are doing, though they claim to.) The spectacular ones stand out, even if they never tell anyone how spectacular they are.

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Ryan Hanley May 4, 2012 at 9:45 am

Rebecca,

It’s the commoditization of EXPERTISE… And it’s a problem… A big problem.

Thanks!

Ryan H.

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Rebecca Livermore May 3, 2012 at 1:38 pm

I definitely say to run from people who say they are experts in everything. There is no way to keep up with every industry in the world and know the best things for it in all areas, including social media. That’s why it makes the most sense to find someone who specializes in your niche, not to mention someone who keeps up with the many changes in social media.

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Marcus Sheridan May 4, 2012 at 9:01 am

Yep, exactly Rebecca. I had a guy the other day ask me to speak on LinkedIn. My thoughts were simple, “Uhhm, I’m not your guy for that, I stink a LinkedIn.”

And that was that :-)

Have a great day!

Marcus

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Laura Click May 3, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Fantastic post, Marcus! I wish I had written it!

Since going into business full time a few months ago, I’ve noticed a couple of things – there are social media “experts” who know the tools, but don’t understand marketing and marketing/PR experts who don’t understand social media. The rare find is a marketing expert who gets social media. Much like Jay, I want to position myself in that third camp. I’m a marketer who knows how to integrate social into the mix. I think there is a growing number of people who fall into this category, but I was surprised to discover just how many phonies there are out there. And, the sad thing is that many businesses, especially smaller ones, don’t know how to tell the difference.

Again, nicely done! I hope a lot of folks ad this before hiring someone!

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Jay Baer May 3, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Exactly Laura. People sometimes tease me about my billing myself as a “hype-free” social media consultant, but it’s true. I don’t care about social media, per se. I care about what works.

This is the fifth agency I’ve started, and each one focused on what worked at that time, and what I was interested in at that time. Before this, I did email marketing. Before that, I did Web strategy. Before that, I did direct mail. Before that, I ran political campaigns.

Every stop I started companies, built them, handled P&L, sold them, whatever. I’ve consulted for 700 companies now in 20 years, and the truth is that I pull from ALL 20 of those years every day, not just what I know about Twitter (or some such).

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Laura Click May 4, 2012 at 8:52 am

Wow, Jay. I didn’t know that you had started FIVE agencies – that’s amazing (and it makes me like you even more)! I’ve worked at an agency, a non-profit and as a government spokesperson – I definitely call upon each of those experiences in my work now.

Social media is just one of the many tools in our toolkit. The trick is to pick the tool that’s best suited for the job. Sounds like we’re on the same page! :)

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Aryeh Kunstler May 4, 2012 at 1:23 am

So well said!
I thought I actually knew what being a social media expert was simply because I used various social platforms. But having a degree in marketing meant nothing when it came to actually applying both social media and marketing to business.
Thanks for a great and enlightening post.

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Marcus Sheridan May 4, 2012 at 8:48 am

Aryeh, very good point. And speaking of degrees, the sad thing is that most college professors are wayyyy behind when it comes to actual application of SM. Thus, the only experience comes by “doing”, and certainly not by studying.

Thanks so much for stopping by,

Marcus

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Aryeh Kunstler May 4, 2012 at 11:27 am

No Marcus, thank you! This won’t be just a stop-in – I’m planning on becoming a religious follower of you.

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Marcus Sheridan May 4, 2012 at 8:59 am

This is what I love about blogging Laura– I wrote the article but the best points have been made by you and Jay– and that is the need to understand business, mixed with marketing, and then allowing social media to have its place.

BTW, I know I’ve already said this, but I just loved meeting you at Social Slam. You’ve got such a GREAT energy and smile!! :-)

Have a wonderful week Laura,

Marcus

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Laura Click May 6, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Don’t kid yourself, Marcus – this was a great piece! But, thanks for the kind words. That means a lot coming from you.

And yes, it was so great to meet you too!!!! Can’t wait until next time! :)

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Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca May 3, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Marcus… dude… so… good.

As I was reading this, I kept cycling point 1 in my head over and over, because to me this is one of the clearest things ever.

Your example of “follow-backs” on twitter stayed with me, and while I could comment on what makes a social media expert, I’m gonna go on a tangent here.

I make a point of studying “success stories”, and have read thousands, and just as you said, they break countless and countless rules.

I did find a few running themes that never seem to be broken, and have zero exceptions.

1. Passionate desire
2. A clear decision to contribute.
3. Surrender, let go, trusting of instincts/gut.

Interestingly, these form the foundation of what Ryze is about, and what every legendary personality recommends. “Follow your heart”, “be yourself”, etc.

Even more interestingly, these things are vague, intangible and take some focus to turn into “actionable” steps.

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Marcus Sheridan May 4, 2012 at 8:57 am

I strongly agree with those 3 qualities Jason—and especially like the part about trusting your gut—something that I think is somewhat of a lost art in society and business because of out tendency to have such a conformist approach to business, and life for that matter.

Always great seeing you man,

Marcus

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Maria Ross May 3, 2012 at 3:22 pm

“The goal is to be good at business because of social media. And those aren’t the same thing.”

Jay, this is why I love you, amidst a sea of other social media “experts” trying to give advice that means nothing, gets no results and doesn’t impact the business for the better.

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Jay Baer May 3, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Thanks Maria. I have a sign in my office that reads: “remember, you can’t eat Twitter followers”

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Marcus Sheridan May 4, 2012 at 8:52 am

I think that should be a required sign in every marketing office in the world Jay ;-)

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Davina K. Brewer May 8, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Oh, that’s good. Should be next to one that reads “RTs and blog comments won’t make your car payments.”

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Marcus Sheridan May 4, 2012 at 8:54 am

I second that motion Maria ;-)

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Oluwatobi Soyombo May 3, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Spot on! It’s one’s ability to help businesses and individuals achieve their objectives that makes one an expert.

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Marcus Sheridan May 4, 2012 at 8:54 am

“achieve”—yep, that’s exactly it Oluwatobi.

Thanks for the stopping by!

Marcus

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Eric Pratum May 3, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Dude, I’m so totally a social media expert. *Pops collar, struts off stage*

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Marcus Sheridan May 4, 2012 at 8:51 am

Dude, you so totally are…besides, you’ve tweeted like 15,000 times, which puts you in Social Media Jedi status ;-)

Thanks for dropping in bud :-)

Marcus

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Jon Loomer May 3, 2012 at 10:52 pm

The first sign that you aren’t a social media expert is that you call yourself a social media expert. Or guru. Or ninja. My skin crawls even typing those last two.

I’ve been immersed in social media for business for five years. I’d stack up my experiences next to (almost) anyone. But hell no I’m no expert. I know more than most turkeys, but there is so much I don’t know. If you know everything about Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and YouTube, you spend 100% of your time doing those things and 0% of your time conducting business. It’s freaking impossible.

Or maybe I’m just jealous.

Good stuff, Marcus.

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Marcus Sheridan May 4, 2012 at 8:50 am

Well, I’m sorry to admit it Jon, but I’m a 4th Degree Social Media Ninja with a specialized guru status in content marketing…so try not to be jealous ;-)

Thanks for your fresh and real perspective bud,

Marcus

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Michael Stetina May 4, 2012 at 9:16 am

Hi Marcus – I would suggest that before anyone hires a Social Media Manager, they examine the Twitter stream of a few existing clients. I worked for a social media manager a few years back. Her idea of promoting on Twitter was to rotate the same four tweets every hour, scheduled a week at a time. This was certainly not conducive to building real community.

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Marisol Mirabueno May 4, 2012 at 11:31 am

I have been trying for years to create a website that will reap income so I don’t have to be tied to my moderately paying 9-5 job, spend more time with my kid, and give my husband the perfect gift on his birthdays — travel — and I put my hopes in blogging and affiliate marketing but none of them seems to work out. Why does it give me the impression that in order for one to succeed in this field, he or she has to have a business background? Why are online entrepreneurs successful and I’m not? Am I missing something?

Your advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks for the post! I downloaded the ebook so I think that’s the first step.
-Marisol

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Matthew Stock May 4, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Answers to your questions:

1. I would gauge a SM “expert” in a few different ways. In no particular order, someone who: (a) understands there’s more to Social Media than just acquiring Twitter followers and Facebook fans (b) truly grasps the concept of ROI (c) has demonstrated success with their own clients and (d) can tailor a specific program to your needs, rather than something cookie cutter.

2. I’ve worked with quite a few SEO experts, but no SM experts other than you. You’re already well aware of the success we’ve had since your visit to our offices this past February.
I bought into everything before you ever came out here, but as you know, needed your help to get buy-in from the group. Maybe next year we’ll take you up on that Performance Based Contract and do an Inbound Marketing 2.0 session. I wouldn’t bet against you, but sequels are rarely better than the original (Rocky 4 notwithstanding).

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Gini Dietrich May 4, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Along the same lines as what Jay said…there are no social media experts. I always joke all it takes is a Twitter account and a keyboard to be a social media expert. Social media is a TOOL in how we communicate and how we get the information important to us. There are experts in business. There are experts in marketing. There are experts in sales. Those experts use social media to help them be more efficient, but they’re not social media experts. The wild, wild west is going to be harnessed this year and, as part of that, the so-called experts will go on to the next new thing while people like you are getting paid for real business results.

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Bradlee TheDawg May 4, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Totally agree Marcus – You and I are in related industries – on my side of the coin there are now 100s of “experts” – most of whom had never been online until a couple days after they learned there was something called “FacePlace”..er, was it MyBook…Tweeter…. whatever… Anyway, it was comical to go to the big industry tradeshows and see people who have literally no understanding of the Internet pitching services to set up and manage Social Media marketing for other equally clueless companies. Since my opinion is 100% with you – Social media has to be authentic and the content produced by the individual…NOT some PR/Ad agency they hired to make 2 lame generic posts/week – I was not the most popular guy there. Bottom line SHOW ME THE MONEY. If you’re a PR/Ad agency and think you have a better way – I want to see the benchmark sales and the increase in sales as a result of your efforts. If you’re not willing to do that – please go away.

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Marcus Sheridan May 8, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Bradlee, totally digging the way you’re saying this man. Seriously. Love your approach. :-)

Smiles,

Marcus

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Andrea Hypno May 5, 2012 at 3:13 am

Interesting post Marcus, and even more interesting comments. What makes someone an expert in any field is experience, better is it’s first hand experience. I can teach people to lose weight but I would be better if I was overweight too as I have experienced it myself so I know the inside-out of it. Studying you can acquire this experience from others’ but it obviously takes longer. Relating to social media tangible results are what matters for someone to be an expert, but isn’t this the rule in every field?

And clearly I second that social media are important if they bring tangible results and not because they are a theory. ROI rules. So if they work in reality for business they’re cool but if they just work to chat then it’s probably better to do something else.

Going a bit wider I think that the separation is between principles and techniques. Principles are “eternal” and can be applied to every field, techniques are usually more targeted but also field-specific. Reason why some good old books, even if “rewritten” thousands times, are still relevant today whatever the field they’re applied. Think and Grow Rich is an example, The Art of War is another. Clearly they have thousands of clones but do they really add something to those old time principles? Beside a cool cover I mean.

Reinventing the wheel or changing materials doesn’t transform the wheel in something else, it remains a wheel even if now it’s made of aluminium. ;)

Have a great weekend to everyone!

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Marcus Sheridan May 8, 2012 at 3:11 pm

ROI Rules…..Love that man.

Theory stinks…..yep.

As always, thanks for stopping by and adding great stuff Andrea.

Have a great one,

Marcus

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Jens P. Berget May 5, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Hi Marcus,

I have only worked with one social media expert, and he didn’t focus on results. The only thing he focused on was his own skills and knowledge. He never showed us anything to back up his claims. Now, that I’m working with companies as a social media consultant, I focus on the long term effect (never a short term campaign) and that the people working for the company should do the job. I believe it’s very important that they’re not outsourcing social media. I’m there to help them learn, but not to do the job for them :)

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Marcus Sheridan May 8, 2012 at 3:10 pm

And that’s exactly why you’re going to be awesome Jens, and I think you’ll be full blown, with employees and everything, within the next 2 years. You’ve got too much of a vision not to—and I really mean that bud.

Cheers my friend,

Marcus

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Jon Buscall May 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm

I love the fact you put it out there that you’re on a performance-based contract. That speaks volumes my friend. Good for you and go get ‘em ! I know you will.

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Marcus Sheridan May 8, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Appreciate that Jon. Yeah, I’m confident it’s going to go very, very well. :)

Marcus

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Zoe Alexander May 6, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Marcus, would you be suspicious of SEO gurus and companies that email you repetitively telling you that your site needs their expertise yet when you check their alexa rank not only is it not <500k but it is in the 3-10million category? I've lost count of how many supposed experts have told me to budget between £100 and £1000 per day based on a 5 day month for SEO! That's $160 – $1600 to write content on a subject they don't even know to the same level as I do! No thank you! An SEO expert has to prove to me trust and a track record. I was repeatedly told I couldn't achieve <1 million alexa in 3-6 momths from 21 million, organically, and I've been trading for 4 months!

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Marcus Sheridan May 8, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Yeah, I don’t trust really any SEO company that contacts me directly. All the ones spamming my inbox bug the heck out of me.

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Gabe B May 7, 2012 at 2:10 pm

I think one can call himself an expert is when he knows what he is doing from experience. and when he could also admit that he needs help on something. Do you consider yourself an expert in any field?

Thanks for sharing!

-Gabe

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Marcus Sheridan May 8, 2012 at 3:01 pm

I look at it like this Gabe– We can’t dub ourselves an expert, but others can. Make sense?

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Jack@TheJackB May 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm

The term social media expert is as useful as “a-lister.” It is meaningless and without value.

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Marcus Sheridan May 8, 2012 at 2:59 pm

It’s a relative phrase, indeed Jack, but the fact is thousands of businesses are typing that phrase into Google a month. Thousands are asking their friends, “Where can I find a social media expert?”

And if the phrase is that much a part of modern vernacular, I certainly wouldn’t consider it meaningless and without value, as the same could be said for just about any other “expert” out there.

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Jay Dolan May 8, 2012 at 11:06 am

I gauge social media experts based on how fast they tweet, or how they move the needle on key metrics that are important to the client.

But that’s just crazy talk. We all know it’s about “engagement” and “being authentic.” Money is for chumps. ;-)

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Marcus Sheridan May 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Ahh, nothing like that Dolan sarcasm ;-)

BTW, will you be headed to any blog world this year Jay?

Best,

Marcus

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Jay Dolan May 8, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Maybe Vegas next winter. I decided to buy a house, which threw a lot of wrenches into my plans for the next couple months.

I am looking to get to a social media conference soon, so I may make appearances elsewhere. Just need to decide which one.

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Davina K. Brewer May 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Like Jay’s quote about business results, think that sums it up. Social media is a tool, like many others have said – use it well, it’ll help you be better at your business. Many things can impact the bottom line, so I won’t limit this to sales per se; maybe it’s listening to your Twitter complaints that gives R&D the idea for the next big thing or just better, cheaper ways to get work done.

Not being for everyone – that’s easy because it’s just like defining expertise in the first place. (Post SoSlam survey, had no problem checking the ‘expert’ box.) “Improvise, adapt, overcome” – that’s my schtick and why I wear many hats Marcus. You have to be flexible, to see what works and what won’t for this business vs. that one; IMO true expertise lies in having the perspective to identify why/why not and what it’ll take to make positive changes.

Which is why – I don’t disagree w/ the money thing – just have a different take. Coming from PR – ‘pay for play’ being unethical; and a lot of my successes fall under ‘no show, no tell’ confidentiality. It’s also harder to track when the small business wants to pay only for the steak – but not the potatoes, the salad, the chef, the grocer, the spice grower, not the planning of the menu or the sharing of the rave reviews and blog posts after. I guess my ramble I’m saying – there’s great value to what you’re going to do for this company Marcus – whether they use it or not, you should get paid what you’re worth. (Which I’m sure you will.)

Oh, to answer your questions: my experience has been terrible, time to fire myself. ;-) And I’ll go w/ the easy joke: It’s like porn, you know a [SM] expert when you see it. FWIW.

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Marcus Sheridan May 8, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Ahhh, the musings of Davina Brewer, when are you going to write that novel BTW Davina, because there is certainly one within you, just waiting to come out.;-)

But I do appreciate very much what you’ve said here, and agree, flexibility is a BIG deal. Being able to change and adapt based on the biz and its needs, is huge.

Thanks again my friend,

Marcus

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Howie at Sky Pulse Media May 8, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Hi Mr Lion

The one gem from this is something I have been crowing about for a long time. Businesses like processes. Repeatable processes. I have been involved with ISO9001, Lean Manufacturing, Kaizen events, Accounting, Sales you name it. Business likes repeatable measurable stuff.

But social isn’t repeatable. Every group of fans and followers and blog readers is different and have different levels of engagement and passions. Your success with your blog can not be replicated by Kraft Mac and Cheese on their blog. It is why there are so few social media home run stories for businesses. There is success. But often it is a nice adder to an overall biz performance.

Yet go to a social media breakfast and the attendees all want that repeatable cookie cutter plan to success with social media.

Your inbound marketing is much different because there are tactics and techniques that can be harnessed by businesses in similar ways even if the content or business types vary.

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Marcus Sheridan May 8, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Howie, as always, appreciate the kind words bud and you’ve really boiled down my message– as it’s one that is principle based, and not platform based, which means it can be effective in many, many arenas.

Anyway, great seeing you man, as always.

Marcus

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Rob Metras May 9, 2012 at 3:07 am

Long before Social Media “experts” were born there were communicators. The media may not have been digital but the results were the same. In small markets the top providers of any service were known through Word of Mouth and good work. All we have done is adapted our communications for a digital channel and broadened our audience. Your style for business communicators repeats on the success you have in a smaller community and makes the megaphone effet digitally. I too think Mitch has the most interesting and helpful blog et al.

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Marcus Sheridan May 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Rob, love your point here sir– Good communication is good communication, from the beginning of time until now, and until the end of time.

So yes, the principles continue to ring true as always.

Thanks so much for dropping by Rob,

Marcus

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Barb May 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm

I’m not sure I should comment on this, but you asked:

1. How do you (and your company) gauge a “true” social media expert?

2. If you’ve worked with a SM consultant before, what was your experience like?

My answer to #1 is the best way to gauge a true SM expert is tracking, like you said, seeing the effect it has on your business with things like ROI/analytics. Since I’m not a numbers person (they give me headaches) because I’m a writer, I’m on the other side of that coin. Although I don’t consider or call myself a social media expert, I think I know what works because I’ve been writing online for over two decades (since about 1990). I’ve watched the evolution of online advertising. And, I think you nailed it right on the head when you talked about how it changes and also how each business should find a way to use it that is specific to their business.

As for #2, I have not worked with an SM consultant and as a copy writer, I would never call myself one. I am in the process of learning how to use specific venues like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest to reach my clients as a business owner, but to tell you the truth, I find that being honest and upfront has been my best marketing tool.

This is good stuff, indeed! I love your philosophy and how you present ideas and I plan to share your great advice, thanks!

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Marcus Sheridan May 11, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Hey Barb! So glad you felt prompted to respond and love your additional thoughts here :-)

And that part about “being honest and upfront is your best marketing tool” is AWESOME!!

Keep up the great work,

Marcus

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Michelle May 11, 2012 at 9:45 am

Wow. Very insightful. A lot of people claim to be experts, but this really maps it out. Guess we all take the title for granted.

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Pete Goumas May 12, 2012 at 7:37 am

Hi Marcus,
Every company is unique and Every platform is unique therefore it is not possible to be expert in all things including social media as per my opinion.

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