Pls Get Out of the Way

January 13, 2011

I’ve wanted to do a soapbox post for a while on the matter of social-media gurus and how they’re wrecking the employment landscape for the rest of us…or at least for those who actually know how to provide value to our clients by using social media tools in our entire quiver of communications weapons.

These wannabe twitter pros run around begging for work and somehow convincing companies that they can help them break through the clutter of social-media tools into brand-awareness nirvana. The trouble is, they are making a confusing landscape even more difficult for the average business owner to navigate. And it’s going to hurt everyone eventually.

I’m not saying people who know nothing aren’t able to make money in social media. They are. Some of these snake-oil salesmen succeed, landing gigs with companies that are desperate to get tweeting and facebooking.

Others swing from assignment to assignment, living a human Ponzi scheme existence. They can never go back to a prior client for work, but these earlier clients are loathe to badmouth anyone because the social-media fishbowl is so incestuous and word here travels faster than in Hollywood.

Finally, a whole population of folks keep hitting walls and eventually decide to go back to what they were doing before social media became the next get-rich-quick tool. Thank you for that.

But before the wheels come off the social media gravy train and everyone is forced to get a job at Best Buy or Starbucks, there are three things people need before hanging out a shingle and deciding to ask people to pay for a bit of social-media acumen.

1 – Some sort of experience in business. Who cares if its running your own firm or working for another company. Just have a solid foundation of business knowledge so that you understand why a company might balk at spending $60k a year for a position that doesn’t provide measurable return on investment.

2 – The ability to communicate with humans. If you’re not particularly skilled in maintaining a conversation or even have basic grammar and spelling skills, maybe social media for business isn’t your core competency. I cringe every time I see folks confuse Your and You’re in their tweets – and protest that it’s not important in ‘informal’ communication. And I’m horrified when I find out that companies have hired people who can’t tell the difference, to be their public persona on Twitter or Facebook

3 – The willingness to work. Social media circles were, and still are to an extent, populated by folks who think this industry is all about going to events and tweeting 20 times a day to get brand mentions. They don’t understand that real relationships, the kind that result in longterm business investments, require careful strategy and a lot of hard work.

So, if you are just standing in the way hoping to get rich quick by brainstorming a viral video or coming up with the next great blog post or clever hashtag, please take your Avery name badge and go back to the bar. There are people in this industry trying to make a living and you’re just confusing the consumers and making it harder for everyone.