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Top 25 Ways to Tell if Your Social Media Expert Is a Carpetbagger

by Beth Harte and Geoff Livingston


The bad economy has brought to bear one unwelcome change.  With a desire to use more cost effective communication forms, companies are looking to social media.  As a result, there are many, many companies, agencies and consultants rushing to offer social media services. Unfortunately, they don’t know what they’re doing (Image: Rifle Expert by Randy son of Robert).

Companies need to turn a discerning eye onto their potential social media partners. Here’s a quick list of some ways to vet potential social media experts.

1) When asked about listening, gives you a blank stare.

2) Converses at people instead of with them on social networks 

3) No tangible past experience delivering return on investment either for themselves or others

4) Doesn’t understand how social media integrates into larger corporate communications or business strategy

5) First recommendation is to blog

6) Believes in delivering messages

7) Will ghostwrite blog posts and other social content for you

8) Is willing to impersonate you online in social networks

9) Trots in “social media expert” for sales meeting

10) Their blog is less than six months old or has no comments

11) Blog only has links to traditional 1.0 media sites

12) Cannot host conversation without constantly interjecting self into said conversation

13) Talks about cultivating your personal brand

14) Will not allow employees to participate in larger conversation

15) Will guarantee results without any prior experiences

16) Just added new social media department

17) Recommends Facebook Group as first tactic

18) Defines social media as only tools (Facebook, blogs, Flickr <INSERT SHINY OBJECT HERE>) as opposed to conversations with communities

19) First campaign involves a contest without a strategy

20) Doesn’t know what Technorati is

21) Talks about applying mass communications theory

22) Posts less than five times a month on their blog

23) Thinks social media is about creating content

24) Suggests publishing promotional copy as social content

25) Believes social media is the sole terrain of either PR or advertising

What would you add to this list?

12/20 Update: Andrew Vascellari shot an absolutely hilarious video version of this post on his blog. Check out Andrew’s riffing on the 25:

About Geoff Livingston:

269 Comments on “Top 25 Ways to Tell if Your Social Media Expert Is a Carpetbagger

  1.  by  Ken Burbary

    26) Recommends Social Network Advertising will be more effective than standard online advertising, and you should buy Facebook Ads to “connect” with your customers

  2.  by  Beth Harte

    I’ll add another…thinks social media is about getting saves and rankings on Digg, del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, etc.

  3.  by  Jake Brewer

    Great post, Geoff.

    Would add “doesn’t integrate company/org’s established or offline strategy into the social media strategy.”

    and “doesn’t build in robust email strategy to complement social network/social media”

  4.  by  Marilyn

    Doesn’t *get* Twitter and thinks it’s a waste of time. Alternately, thinks Twitter is the best/only social media/social networking tool worth using.

  5.  by  Jeremy Mandle

    It’s an unfortunate truth, but this expertly compiled list of 25 is going to grow, grow, and grow. Well done Beth & Geoff. We can only hope that this reaches it’s intended audience at the speed of light :) I’ll be retweeting it frequently.

  6.  by  Miguel

    #26: Doesn’t understand the meaning of community

    #27: Overly concerned with volume/eyeballs i.e. impressions, followers, fans

  7.  by  Doreen Overstreet

    This is interesting, thanks. Although I would like to point out that all “experts” have to start somewhere. So in order to fulfill #3 on the list you’ve got to test the waters (and that means having to be OK with #10 on your list). I definitely think you should post something about 25 Ways to Tell if Your Social Media Expert is Legit too.

  8.  by  Rafael Marquez

    How about, “relies on linvingstonbuzz.com for information” :-)

    Also on #18, all of those are tools, it’s how and what you use them for that counts. After all, your telephone is not a conversation, your telephone is the tool that you use for the conversation.

  9.  by  mack collier

    If your SM expert suggests you blog, google ‘His Name’ + blog. If you get ‘Search returned no results’, run like hell.

  10.  by  DaveMurr

    I would be wary of anyone who spells Facebook – “Face Book” and MySpace – “My Space”… true story.

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  12.  by  Daria Steigman

    Geoff & Beth,

    Great follow-up to this afternoon’s Twitter conversation. I’d add:

    26. Has never met a deadline.
    27. Things ROI is what they’re getting paid.

    Bset, Daria

  13.  by  Jacob Morgan

    #26 doesn’t understand the potential synergies between social
    media and search

    #27 thinks social media is spending time on phone with a friend while watching a tv show together

    good post :)

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  16.  by  Dan Thornton

    I’ll add one which inspired my last blog post:

    # Joins countless online groups and discussions without any focus, never contributes, and just wants to make sure they’re in the group for appearances sake.

  17.  by  Tamar Weinberg

    “#26) They make top 25 lists to remind everyone the etiquette of social media.”

    And don’t knock that either. After all, as I said, it was a contribution from many people. (P.S. You’re encouraged to write a comment on the post if you have any issues with it.)

  18.  by  Kulpreet Singh

    I would add:
    Focuses completely on concepts but not on implementation.

    Different types of businesses, non-profits and agencies have different corporate hierarchies, work flow, priorities, legacies, misunderstandings or miseducation, etc. So you can’t give a company owner / manager / executive abstract information on social media and then charge a consulting fee and run off. They’ll be in the same position 6 months later. Effective and efficient implementation strategies are missing from the “proposals” of “professional” social media consultants who often just want to give some info, get some money, and move on.

  19.  by  Mervyn Alamgir

    Tamar, it was great chatting with you and thanks for pointing out your post. Your handbook approach is a good contrast to the satire of this top 25 list.

  20.  by  Beth Harte

    @TamarWeinberg, and here I thought Mervyn Alamgir was knocking my etiquette list post (http://tinyurl.com/5bsm8b)! Bah! 😉

    @MervynAlamgir, curious as to why you are being a tad bit defensive? I am sure as a social media person, you must’ve come across this type of carpetbagging, no?

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  22.  by  Ben Lurkin

    Shocking! Many of the most-followed Twitter celebrities are doing most of these things. Better send them a course-correction, stat!

    Commenter on Twitter: it actually is a waste of time for anyone who isn’t already deeply enmeshed in the tiny, incestuous world of social media marketing.

  23.  by  Mervyn Alamgir

    yes, i agree with the list. I thought it was a combination of sarcasm and truth which is where my comment came from. I didn’t know of your etiquette post until you posted the link. :)


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  27.  by  Yu Yu

    XX) Think/tells you that social media, marketing and PR are separate things.

    This list is so funny.

  28.  by  Graeme Wood

    26. Calls themselves a Social Media Expert

    Not sure about the 5 posts a month point though – someone like Armano would share more insight in 5 posts a month than most people like me would do posting every day

  29.  by  Guillaume

    Funny list!! I have met many self proclaimed social experts recently, so would be great to spread this list around. I do not fully understand why blogging as a first recommendation is bad. I mean you do not have to or force people to blog, it should be something natural coming from your company or your employees, and my first recommendation would be to know your customers and listen to them, but I will definitely put blogging in my top 10 recommendations (I precise I am not a social media expert but someone following carefully this sector).

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  31.  by  Jack Pratt

    #1: Makes money selling social media advice.

    #2: Uses the word “strategy” more than zero times.

    If it doesn’t happen organically, it’s marketing bull**** that papered over as authentic social. Social media that has the fingerprints of marketing or PR is by definition corrupt.

  32.  by  Jen Zingsheim

    Good list, but I do have a quibble with some of these…

    First, #14. “Will not allow employees to participate in the conversation.” In some instances, I’m okay with this. You have to know your employees. As the whole ‘Bob’ scenario on Brogan’s blog played out, there are employees out there who, with the best of intentions, can do damage to a company. Plus, for the big guys/publicly traded companies, there is a real danger in an employee saying something that can get twisted around–and end up in a lawsuit against the company 5, 10, 15 years down the line.

    #16 – “Just added a social media department.” Not sure what you’re getting at here…what if a communications company believes that all departments should be versed in social media, so they don’t have one at all? Or, what if they looked across all of the existing departments and those who have been practicing (effectively) in this area and decide “hey, let’s pull them all under one group”? I think this one is a bit cut and dry.

    #10 – blog less than 6 months old/no comments. Again, one that should be considered on a case-by-case basis, IMHO. Chip’s (my boss) Conversations & Commentary blog is less than 6 months old (barely)…but, he’s had a number of them since he first started blogging in what, like 2002 or something? Some blogs don’t enable comments. It doesn’t mean that a) it isn’t a blog; or b) it doesn’t mean the blogger is a carpetbagger and doesn’t understand social media.

    I don’t have a personal blog–I spend a lot of time on Media Bullseye and actually enjoy having a relatively computer-free social life when I leave work. It certainly doesn’t mean that I don’t understand social media.

    Rules–>not always applicable.

    Thought-provoking post though, as usual!


  33.  by  Geoff Livingston

    Jen: I’m OK with disagreeing with you on all of those.

    14) Yeah, you can’t control the message, sorry. I am working with a top five defense contractor who has had this issue and is giving up. Instead they are putting in place sensible guidelines.

    16 snd 10) You are clearly nitpicking: You and I both know we meant adding a new capability and first time opportunities as compared to these specific instances. I mean c’mon, it’s a silly list mean to poke fun at the phenomena, not all seriousness.

    Lastly, nowhere does it say that you have to have a blog to be a social media expert. It just says if you have your brand new one, than that’s a warning flag.

    If you want to write a serious post about each bullet go for it. My suggestion is to lighten up a little in that snow. It’s Christmas.:)

  34.  by  Lucia

    #26. Recommends Twitter account as second tactic (after creating Facebook page)

  35.  by  Jeff Davis

    awkwardly inserts the words “transparency” and “authenticity” into the pitch (not conversation), follows four accounts on Twitter (majority bots) and uses a funny looking brown box as an avatar.

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  38.  by  Jason Baer

    Nice job Geoff and Beth. Great list.

    Not to get too picky, but in regards to #23, social media was indeed originally coined to describe the notion of user content creation and connectivity. While it has since morphed into more of an over-arching business philosophy about transparency and customer-centrism, it’s origins are in fact in content creation.

    But of course, carpet-baggers wouldn’t know that. 😉

    It’s a good post, and I appreciate very much the counsel of companies and agencies to be cautious and diligent when hiring social media consultants. But, I fear we’re treading on the “drawbridge” syndrome here, where anyone that wasn’t being paid for social media in 2005 is irrelevant.

    That kind of thinking is both foolish and unfair. It’s akin to saying that anyone that wasn’t building Web sites in 1994 is unworthy. Or anyone that wasn’t doing PPC on GoTo in 2001.

    In an ever-fluid industry like digital marketing (and especially social media), the rules, norms, and required skill-sets are changing rapidly. Just because someone did it in the early days does not mean they are staying on top of these shifting sands. In fact, I find that a lot of the “old hands” in other digital marketing disciplines have been resting on their laurels, and are still trying to stuff keywords into their SERPs.

    I concur that the BS meter is pretty high right now. Everyone rushes to the hot new thing – that’s just business. But I don’t agree that being new is necessarily a scarlet letter.

  39.  by  Amanda

    Great Post! Now can you give us the counterpart to this list? How you can tell your social media guru is on target?

  40.  by  Matt Randall

    Would like to say thanks for the list, some very useful tips there.

    Early next year the start-up I work for, will be looking to take on an online marketing expert. I will definitely be watching out for any of these signs.

    I think as a general rule you have be on the look out for cowboys masquerading as experts for any job you want done.

    I will always do the due diligence when it comes to products and services, whether it is for personal or for work reasons.

    When I’m asking someone what they can do for me, I usually know exactly what I want already and am just checking them out to see if they know what they are talking about.

  41.  by  Rich Brooks

    I’m going to disagree with “blog first”. And yes, I went back and read your blog-last post.

    For a lot of companies that are exploring this space they find that the world/sphere/zone of social media is a pretty decentralized place. Often profiles allow for URLs, and what business wouldn’t want people coming back to their site? (Let’s not pretend these corporations aren’t businesses.)

    However, because of the static, non-interactive status of most Web sites, I’d recommend a blog where the conversation can continue through comments and trackbacks.

    Sometimes we all need a center.

  42.  by  Shaun Dakin

    Good list. Question: Why does the blogosphere go crazy about lists? Does it say something about our inability to actually read anything in depth any longer?

    My additions:

    # – Says Social Media is easy and cheap.
    # – Says Social Media is simple to implement in “no time”.
    # – Says that there is really no way to measure social media. It is so cheap, you don’t need to measure.
    (If you are interested in measuring, check out this company – http://morningside-analytics.com/)

    Shaun Dakin

    Business – @EndTheRoboCalls
    Personal – @IsCool

  43.  by  SarahResults/Sarah Smith

    My most recent head-scratcher is the number of interactive creative or development agencies that AREN’T participating in SocMed communities. From my view, their absence is a real “minus” in the credibility column.

  44.  by  Stephanie Quilao

    Great post! From the perspective of a blogger who gets pitched by social media experts everyday (I’m also former marketeer), I’d add:

    – suggests selling text links over paid for posts because it’s “better”. Yea, for the company not the blogger.

    – believes, “oh yeah, we can get bloggers to do all kinds of things for free. We don’t have to pay them anything.”

    – cuts & pastes entire press releases in blogger pitches. We HATE that!

    – Gives you a blogger pitch list of mainly “social media” bloggers because they are too lazy to go out and find out who the real influentials are in their client’s customer niche.

  45.  by  Jen Zingsheim

    Whoa…did I ever miss the tongue-in-cheek tone here. *hangs head in shame, heads to stand in social media time-out corner*.

    How about: “doesn’t understand social media humor, and thinks that snark is a mythical animal in Harry Potter stories?”

    Have a great weekend Geoff. Lots of stuff here for a list of warning signs people really should look for…as evidenced by some of the other comments by folks who also see a lot of truth in this!

  46.  by  Fred Zahradnik

    Hmmm. Has anyone proven ROI with social media? I’d like to see the links.
    What’s wrong with blogging as a first step?
    Also, let’s not pretend there are a lot of grizzled social media veterans out there who know all the answers. I think everyone’s feeling their way into this field.
    I will say, though, that anyone who was promoting Second Life as the next great thing should be disqualified from consideration.

  47.  by  Karl Long

    I’d add someone who talks about conversation and doesn’t demonstrate strategies to create tangible, measurable value.

  48.  by  Justin Goldsborough (JGoldsborough on Twitter)

    Nice post :). I think some of these are much worse violations than others. Here are a couple more. And I’ll even admit that I’ve suggested creating a “viral video” in the past…key word there, past.

    1) Suggests creating a viral video.

    2) Is more worried about the software platform on which the conversation takes place than whether or not the conversation itself happens.

    3) Thinks Technorati is a tech blog (happened on a call the other day).

    Will say I post a lot less on my blog (probably about 5 times a month) since I’ve become so active on Twitter. Just my experience…

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  50.  by  Nicky Jameson

    1.Tells companies since that they aren’t in control of their message any more they need to get with the Social Media program today and free any employees to use all the cool Social Media tools to build relationships where ever they find them.
    2. Talks tools before strategy, or no strategy at all, just tools because thinks tools = strategy.
    3. Thinks you don’t need a social media strategy.

    Having said this rather tongue in cheek, Social Media is very much a new field and as Fred also says, nobody knows all the answers just yet. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The Social Media field is changing almost daily, and in some respects it is companies that need to ask the right questions. They don’t know the right questions about Social Media because they don’t fully understand the SM landscape. So they should begin with their strategic business objectives and seek answers as to how and why Social Media helps to meets objectives -if at all. If the SM expert is unable to answer those questions (which are mostly strategic) then you immediately know there’s a problem and you can part ways.

    I think knocking blogging as a first step into Social Media makes little sense. Assuming it’s a fit (strategies considered) why not a blog first? For some businesses an internal or external blog makes more business sense than “tweeting” on Twitter.

  51.  by  Danny Brown

    Great list, although I’d suggest #8 should have some leeway.

    Many clients are wary of social media and want to see what you’re on about, so “running” their social media presence to start with isn’t a bad thing.

    As long as they take the reins at some stage, obviously.

  52.  by  Lucretia Pruitt

    “18) Defines social media as only tools (Facebook, blogs, Flickr ) as opposed to conversations with communities”


    Um, guys? Media are the tools – Social Media practitioners, users, conversations, strategies are all things that use the tools.

    Unless you are using “media” in the sense of reporters, you’ve kind of missed the boat on this one. Media (singular medium) are the tools. You may plan to use the tools in a particular way – you may figure out which media are the right ones to use to engage your customers or business partners with, but the media ARE the tools.

    And yes, I did only post to my personal blog 5 times in November – it’s a personal blog, not a professional one. 😉


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  54.  by  Laurel Papworth

    oh what are we up to? 101? :)
    *102 can’t define the social media cycle and how the tools fit into different stages
    *103 thinks that a social media audit is a search on Google
    *104 thinks the community “should be handed over to the community”
    *105 can’t give you clear ROIs (soft) on brand recall, increased time on site, decrease in customer service and tech support costs, decrease in cost of acquisition of customer
    *106 can’t define a SM campaign and says “social media can’t be measured yet”. Can’t name tools for analytics, not willing to offer a baseline improvement.
    *107 focusses on the cost of inaction (COI) without addressing real fears of backlash

    I could go on, but I have take away Thai food waiting. nom nom nom
    @SilkCharm on Twitter

  55.  by  Carrie Kerpen

    Tells you that they can have people on their team that can post reviews for you about your product.

    Someone who wants to develop a very expensive app for you for the sole purpose of having something that’s “your own” on social media.


  56.  by  Geoff Livingston

    I am not going to say anything about any of the individual comments, but I do want to address some of the bullets:

    8) Is willing to impersonate you online: If you don’t think this is a problem, then there’s a serious ethical transgression at stake. It’s called astroturfing. Rather than moralize, if this issue is important to you one way or another, there’s an extensive writeup we did on this about 18 mos ago: http://tinyurl.com/9e6lsz.

    5) First recommendation to blog. The most contested point, more than likely because it’s the most commonly accepted practice. This may have worked three years ago, but industry best practices as well documented by the Society for New Communications Research show that listening is the first step, not launching a blog. More on the Now Is Gone blog here: http://tinyurl.com/5twpnu

    18) Defines social media as only tools (Facebook, blogs, Flickr ) as opposed to conversations with communities.: How’s that Friendster account treating you? Great social media there, huh?

    Social media is two-way conversations that occur online in a wide variety of different social tools from socnets and blogs to bookmarking sites and reviews on amazon. Regardless of the tool the conversation continues. I recommend the Cluetrain Manifesto to anyone who doesn’t understand what we mean here. More about that book: http://tinyurl.com/5tfvgj

    Thanks to everyone who has made this a surprisingly fantastic post. We were really just riffing and never expected it to be anywhere near as popular as it has been. It’s been great watching all of the comments.

  57.  by  Jen Zingsheim

    Geoff, you might have been ‘just riffing,’ but you’ve apparently really struck a chord. I think you have enough material here for the first (well, in my memory at least) collaborative social media white paper.


  58.  by  Danny Brown


    Thanks for responding re. the “impersonating online” but I still disagree with you. If a client/company wishes to get into social media but is unsure and wishes to see it in action first before fully committing, then why not run an account for them?

    It’s not unethical if it’s disclosed or it’s a generic company blog, and to be honest I’m not too stoked at you whitewashing that as unethical. I (and many others) am completely ethical – if unsure, just ask Beth, I think she’d vouch for me.

    Your answer to Lucretia about #18 also smacks a little of sarcasm, which is disappointing when it’s just someone offering their view on your post.

  59.  by  Danny Brown

    PS – Forgot to mention re. running a SM account – would it be more preferable to have a company stay away from SM altogether then, in your view? Doesn’t that detract from trying to involve more companies?

  60.  by  Geoff Livingston

    Danny: You can disagree all you want. The world is made of opinions, you are free to explore yours here and elsewhere. If you don’t like my tone — which is endemic throughout all my posts — you probably won’t like reading any further Buzz Bin posts. It’s really an opt in thing, and complaining about it isn’t going to change my style.

    You are right that disclosing impersonating someone else in your communications is above board, but I really don’t see how that benefits an organization in learning social media. So not my recommendation to clients. But if not, it’s dirty and unethical. It’s called astroturfing. Sorry, that’s it. If Beth vouches for that then god bless her. Somehow I don’t think you speak for her, but I’ve asked her to comment on her own.

    And I do tell a lot of companies not to engage because they aren’t ready yet. In fact, I dedicate a whole chapter of my book to whether or not a company is ready.

  61.  by  Lucretia Pruitt

    Geoff: agreed about the Cluetrain Manifesto – a must read.

    The problem really is that if you get 5 ‘Social Media Experts’ in a room, you will have 5 different opinions on how to frame the conversation about marketing and Social Media. Even with good foundations, we’re still in the midst of defining this field and part of that is debates as to whether someone else’s approach is ‘the best’ or not. Dialog is key, right?

    Yours and Beth’s are both great voices – and this riffing? Very formidable.

    I think the reason we all respond to it with our ‘but point # is wrong because’ is twofold: Firstly, that we know that beginners in this space will come here and think “aha! I’ve found the answers! If I just don’t commit these sins, I will be perceived as an expert!!” and we all know that it’s a bit more complex than this. Secondly that we look at the majority of these and say ‘of course’ and forget to post that comment as “wow! #-## are all resonating perfectly for me!”

    As humor with a solid core of truth behind it? The post is brilliant.

    You know that we’re all just nit-picky perfectionists! :)

  62.  by  Mervyn Alamgir

    I second Jen’s recommendation above, the original post, the recommended links and all of these comments can be a very good basis for a ‘starter’s guide’ or ‘best practices’ for using social media. Kudos to Beth and Geoff for stimulating a good conversation.

    The discussion around social media is constantly evolving as the group of participants increase, introduce their experiences and we engage in healthy debate. At the end of the day, we are talking about communicating to a target audience. There are many ways to reach target audiences and social media is a way to change the traditional uni-directional conversation into a content rich two-way discussion. This blog post is a great example of it.

    There may be experts in using twitter, blogs, wikis, videos, etc… to communicate, but just be wary of anyone tagging themselves as a social media expert. It is a violation of intent behind ‘social media’.

    P.S. please wait a few hours before going to my blog so I can remove any references to my business as a ‘social media expert’. :)

  63.  by  dave

    Anybody can be on/use a social networking site http://tr.im/online_jihadist

    Interesting & frustrating. I can’t remember where I read it, and it really doesn’t matter but being too far ahead of a trend is just as bad as too far behind.

    The thing I am trying to say is that there are people that may not “talk” the lingo, but actually know more than those that are the web stars/influencers.

    Some of the best artists I have met, could not explain their own work or that of the “Masters” in art gallery speak. A few of the best Directors I have worked around, do not know a thing about “the whole” film making process.

    I have started, for others, many “social” accounts because I know that they will ONE day GET IT. Yup … I have posted to those accounts to try to kick start use. Some of these people have, after a few months or years, begun to test the waters. Some now act as though they have been IN the know for years.

    A walkie talkie can also be hammer:

    Hell, I can’t define social media/networking in a neat package … easy on the ear and sweet like candy. If I am talking to a Non Profit about Social Networking it is NOT the same “talk” I’d have with a Car Dealer, Eatery or Veterinarian about Social Media. Even trying to reply to this is difficult … maybe I should be drawing on a wall.

    But I end up using the Buzz words (from who knows where they are coined) like everyone else, in order to communicate. I am consciously eliminating the word Tool and a few other terms because it really is how you use the tools not the tool.

    Of all the items listed, a couple stood out as easily argued. There are people I follow on Twitter that only post to a blog on occasion. Their Twitter stream is more active (and focused on a specific topic I am interested in). Some blogs I read, I don’t subscribe to, nor do I join, any of their other “networks”. I just like them, in that one place.

    I see a lot of takers and quite a few fakers … carnival barkers and those who have Center of attention syndrome.

    Caveat emptor

    Consider asking yourself (and you have to be honest with your self), would you buy a (if they were instead selling) Turd Sculptures from this person/company? If the answer is yes, you are probably dealing with a carpetbagger. It also means that you are like most people, influenced by looks, opinion, or your genitals. It’s okay … some people are really good sales people. Some people have something really good to sell.

    Some people are Magnetic. And Sh*t st*nks.

    If I ever get beyond the endless pitching (man I hate that word) and get to get down to business, I will parade (and hire on a team of) as many experts as necessary, to provide the BEST information/skills for that particular need.

    I’d name drop, but that could be considered pandering in some cases and player hating in another case or two.

    The web 2.0/Social Networking/Media guru you (in general) are looking for, KNOWS your business AND the web. The carpetbagger is the equivalent of a burger commercial. Enticing sure, Filling? At the moment, but it will pass just like the burger. Sh*t is Sh*t

    A brick in the wall, notch on a Headboard or accurate pistol grip?

    Smart can tell the difference. The dumb, delusional and desperate … will continue to be followers adding themselves to the list of “those” with the most followers, thinking that “they” have what it takes to make “them” Magnetic.

    It is a f’ing cornfield, TEND your garden or get corn-holed on the way to Copycat-land. A bulls-eye in Social Networking includes all the concentric rings.

    I don’t like to write (hard to tell from this long ass rant), don’t want to be the center of attention, and am no longer comfortable in large crowds. I am good at helping others and working in a team of like minded people.

    I have friends of 40+ years and I have 40+ people that don’t like me. I am (almost always) very content being way ahead of the pack/herd. And nothing I have to say makes any difference until repeated by someone with a polarizing personality.

    An Ancient Web 5.0 Mariner Guru…
    anxiously waiting to jack into the matrix, do mind melds and generally relate on a micro biological level telepathically with other Creatures Great and Small. How’s that for a signiture?

    PS. There is a lot of good information & wisdom shared here and throughout livingstonbuzz.com, Thank You

  64.  by  Nicky Jameson

    @ Lucretia – “The problem really is that if you get 5 ‘Social Media Experts’ in a room, you will have 5 different opinions on how to frame the conversation about marketing and Social Media.”

    I don’t see it as such a problem, myself. Why should there be “just one way?” As we’ve said, everything in the Social Media field is still evolving. The way a conversation is framed and the tools used will (and should) depend on who the parties in the conversation are and what they want to achieve.

    There are probably as many ways to frame a conversation as there are companies and audiences. More tools will be developed, others will fade away. Some efforts (even with the best expert advice) will fail, others will succeed. In the end I believe it will be a case of “what has worked” and I suspect it will be learned from a combination of application, experience and hopefully sharing actual outcomes.

    One last point. I wouldn’t get hung up on the “Social Media expert” tag. If you’re able to demonstrate solutions to specific strategic business problems, your clients will not only recognize your expertise they will tell their peers and any one else who cares to listen. I think that’s what we used to call word of mouth:)

  65.  by  Lucretia Pruitt

    Must’ve been a miscommunication there – I don’t see multiple opinions as a problem with the practice of Social Media – I see it as a problem with making lists like this.
    We are always going to disagree on the points.

    That said, I don’t use the word expert – wouldn’t claim to be one.
    My site says Social Media Devotee for a reason. My title is Social Media Strategist.
    Experts are people who think they have all the answers.
    I’m busy working on determining what the right questions are to get effective answers.

  66.  by  Lucretia Pruitt

    Excuse me Geoff… apparently, for a moment, Nicky Jameson looked just like you in print! 😉

    That last comment obviously was directed at the wrong person.
    Apologies to both of you.


  67.  by  Nicky Jameson

    @Lucretia – yes, lists like this can be a problem particularly in this field at this time. But in the end they are just opinions, right?

    As for expert… while I’m not hung up on it… I admire expertise. I like the dictionary meaning of expert… “a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field, a specialist or an authority…”

  68.  by  Laurel Papworth

    … it amuses me that people with little or not experience in a field, with no track record say ‘oh there’s not such things as experts, it’s just opinions’.

    Wrong. Unless you mean it in the most restricted professional sense such as doctors and lawyers, there are clear actions/outcomes in social media.

    So perhaps we should add to the faux social media expert list
    #108 people who do not have the willingness and knowledge to confidently outline their strategy based on real experience gained over a substantial amount of time and projects.

    It’s very dangerous to hire bloggers as social media experts when they are full of ideas of what to ‘try’ but no experience on what actually ‘works’…. no? Which is why this list works 😛

  69.  by  Cory O'Brien

    I’d add “Recommends whatever the current, unproven ‘game changing’ Web 3.0 technology is as first tactic”.

    Reading through this list, I was laughing at how true many of these were, but crying at the same time, because there are companies out there that are paying big bucks for this ‘expertise’. So many of these so-called ‘experts’ are just spouting off a recycled version of what everyone else is telling them, and it takes a real leader to go against that pack and give honest and valuable advice.

    To be a true expert, you need to have a track record that shows you can walk your talk, and even then, there’s a lot more to it than just recommending the latest and greatest. Hopefully, at least a few companies give this list a read before wasting their money on expertise that would be better spent elsewhere, and the industry as a whole can get a nice little purge as the fake experts leave for the next untapped market and let the genuine leaders shine through.

  70.  by  Shaun Dakin

    This will date me in technology circles but, omg, I remember the heydays of the 90’s when I helped run FedEx.com and everyone and their Grandmother was an eCommerce expert.

    Netscape was king, Yahoo was getting off the ground and Google had not been born.

    The point? No one knew what they were doing and there were a whole bunch of witch doctors selling “cyber medicine” that companies large and small were willing to pay for even though no one had a clue.

    One of the best ads of the era?

    UPS had a TV ad with two consultants in a board room delivering a presentation to the Executive Committee. At the end of the presentation the CEO says “OK. When can we start doing this?” The consultants look at each other and say, “We don’t do, we tell you what to do.”

    That is where we are today. 1000’s of “Social Media” consultants who have no track record of producing results giving presentations to executives that are desperate for someone, anyone, to show them the way in this brave new world.

    Many people will be taken for a ride.

    Shaun Dakin
    CEO StopPoliticalCalls.org
    A @Mashable Open Web Award Winner

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  73.  by  Beth Harte

    @JenZingsheim, having worked for a large tech company (F500) our product/service experts were allowed to speak to the media (within only one – if any – media training session, imagine that being the sole criteria, it’s crazy) and talk to customers without a blink of the eye, but suggest letting them have that exact same voice on-line and the door slams shut. This made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever and I fought it for years. The two forms of communication that could become the ones most taken out of context or convoluted to any degree (i.e. media bias or a customer twisting words to get what they want) are okay, but trusting them to communicate and develop relationships on the same topics online and companies become fearful…go figure.

    @BenMcConnell, hope you got the sarcasm/irony on the Technorati mention. We don’t think Technorati is viable…anyone involved with social media knows better.

    @NickyJameson, companies who try blogging as a first strategy (rather than listening or developing a community first), might struggle with the value of blogging when they don’t see anyone reading it or commenting. As well, because they aren’t listening in the first place there’s a tendency to transfer marketing collateral/website copy or news into blog posts. It just doesn’t work. But you are right, it ultimately depends on the company (and their community) and what they are trying to achieve…a good SM consultant/agency will be able to weed through it, after they *listen* to the client.

    @LucretiaPruitt, hope you got the sarcasm there. There are folks telling companies that they only need a Flickr account, Twitter account(s), Facebook account or add, etc. Heck, you only need to look at EMC’s “social media” work to know that this doesn’t work. They have all the so-called right tools (the media in social media) in place, but absolutely NO conversation…oh, and yeah, all the photos and tweets are all about them. Is that social media? I’d argue not. I’d say it’s traditional marketing using online tools and it won’t move the needle forward in building customer relationships.

    @pressreleasePR, Danny, as you know from our conversation last night I don’t agree with speaking for customers — ever. If they aren’t ready for social media, that’s fine. It should not be forced. Let’s start them out with listening, not blogging or Twittering. Here’s my issue with it…consultants and agencies have been speaking for companies for too long already (those tools already exist). I often wonder what happens when someone has been writing or ghostwriting for a CEO (or whoever) and then an analyst, journalist or even a customer says “wow, I liked your post on XYZ…can you please expand upon it?” and the CEO just stares at them blankly. If it’s the CEO’s (or whoever’s) thoughts/opinions/beliefs from the start, they will have no issued continuing the conversation or moving it forward.

    @Everyone, if you are looking for a company that’s doing social media properly, check out Bert DuMars, Vice President E-Business and Interactive Marketing with Newell Rubbermaid and his team of brand managers (Sharpie, Graco, etc.). They are a good example of implementing social media within a large company. They listen first, they are real, they engage in conversation (on- and off-line). And they can spot a carpetbagger a thousand miles away [Bert, apologies for speaking for you, but you tweeted it! ;-)].

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  75.  by  Nicky Jameson

    @Beth – thanks – I had kind of taken listening as read only because I recommend it before a company starts any social media endeavour not just blogging. It would be part of the social media strategy including how they listen and why and what to do with what they hear. Some companies already have their customers doing polls, writing in via customer improvement channels, email – some are monitoring via alerts. These are all part of listening, which should be captured.

    The entire shift (and difficulty for companies) is the shift to listening to what people are saying rather than marketing and talking at them. I agree with you that it’s hard for some companies to get their heads around this and some just will not be able to.

    Unless it’s made clear that blogging isn’t a quick fix and that building comments and readership takes time, resources and openess (setting expectations), they may well still have a problem when they don’t see 100’s of comments (like some of the blogs they may be familiar with). Part of the role of their social media practitioner, in determining if blogging is in fact suitable for them, is to ensure understanding around expectations around the outcomes they are expecting and whether these are realistic. Listening isn’t really enough though, as if they listen yet apply the same marketing mindset the outcome is the same… social media becomes simply another channel with all the collateral transferred over. I wrote a Special report on Copywriting for Social Media covering just this point.
    Lastly, a blog is a great way to develop a community.

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  77.  by  Todd Jordan

    Great list! I’ve seen these folks but never had a word for them.
    Thanks for the laughs too.
    Fun article. Tweeted it out.

  78.  by  Beth Harte

    @NickyJameson, Totally agree. Perhaps we need to start saying “hearing” instead of listening. Listening is one thing, but are companies really hearing what their customers want from them? Looking forward to checking out your post.

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  80.  by  Bobbi Jo Woods

    To the original poster of the list – nice. Thanks for the reminding us the items that are important, and for the funny ones, too!

    But as soon as this guy in the video said (as one of his “items to add to the list”), “They use PCs”, I stopped listening.

    What’s the kind of machine someone uses have anything to do with their knowledge of social media? As a web developer/programmer/host server admin, I use a PC. I do all my server admin stuff and my graphics & design on it as WELL as Tweet, manage several blogs and do other networking online just fine, thank you!

    PS – I think it’s AndreA not Andrew (the guy in the video).

  81.  by  Bobbi Jo Woods

    PPS – Yellow text on a white background? I’m far from blind but, that is not enough visual contrast for reading this much commentary.

    Merry Christmas!

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  83.  by  Doug Haslam

    My add: “Only links back to his own blog in Top 25 lists” – sorry, couldn’t resist ;P

    sorry, couldn’t resist. Best part of course is the debate in comments rather than the list itself.

    On the “ghostblogging” – for lack of a better descriptive term- debate, I tend not to be a purist on this. Danny talks about disclosure and being above board (disclosing), which helps such efforts succeed or fail honestly, at least. And I should echo his mention of “generic company blog” – depending on how you define that, I have seen the “non-personal corporate voice” blogs succeed– though this is an old argument, it tends to come up time and again.

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  85.  by  Steve Andrews

    Believes social media should lead communications strategy and / or represents something completely “new.”

  86.  by  Fred Zahradnik

    Geoff and others. Thanks for the feedback. I did learn something – about “listening first” which I think is another way of saying make sure understand the ecosystem of your site/products/company/community clearly and objectively before you wade in. Makes sense to me.

  87.  by  Fritz

    Ha, good list. There are certainly some social media ‘experts’ I know who come to mind.

    Another for the list: insists a corporate blog hosted on the corporate website with “Posted by Editor” in the byline is participating in the conversation.

    And yet one more: Utilizes semi-anonymous nicknames when leaving comments at other blogs :-)

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  90.  by  mack collier

    BTW Geoff and Beth I heard another one today, ‘Doesn’t know the difference between social networking, and a social network’.

    Was watching CNBC today, and they had their ‘digital expert’ on, and they asked him ‘Ok what’s going to be big in the digital space in 2009? What’s going to be the next social networking?’ And the expert replied ‘Well first we had MySpace, and then Facebook was real popular. Who knows which one will be big next?’

    Ummmm….Mr. ‘expert’, that wasn’t the question 😉 And no one caught that he didn’t answer the question.

  91.  by  mack collier

    “… it amuses me that people with little or not experience in a field, with no track record say ‘oh there’s not such things as experts, it’s just opinions’.

    Wrong. Unless you mean it in the most restricted professional sense such as doctors and lawyers, there are clear actions/outcomes in social media.”

    Not sure that’s what the ‘there are no experts’ crowd means. I have said this as well, and it’s a reminder to myself and the rest of this space that this space is constantly changing. Today’s hot trends might be outdated in a week. Sure, many of the fundamental reasons why SM works will continue to be there, but the popular/valuable tools could be completely different.

    Seth Godin can tell you exactly why Twitter works, but he’ll admit to never actually using it. Does that make him a ‘Twitter expert’?

    “It’s very dangerous to hire bloggers as social media experts when they are full of ideas of what to ‘try’ but no experience on what actually ‘works’…. no?”

    Depends. If a blogger can create a successful blog for him/herself, odds are they can do it for a client. In fact, I’ve seen several corporate blogging studies (I know Forrester had one, possibly Emarketer was another) this year that concluded that many companies could benefit from patterning their blogging efforts after successful individual bloggers.

    While I completely agree that it’s dangerous as hell to turn your online communications plan over to a blogger with zero business experience, I also think it’s dangerous to hire a great online marketer, that isn’t a good blogger, to launch yours.

  92.  by  Laurel Papworth

    Unfortunately, Seth Godin is full of platitudes -I’d be careful of subscribing any ‘expert’ status to him. How can a company hire him to talk about ‘engagement’ when he turns off comments and forces readers of his blog to create their own blog and/or comment elsewhere? Nice example of how NOT to engage!

    And yes, a blogger can probably duplicate the success of a blog – it is, after all, primarily a one-to-many channel, not a social network. Any marketer/PR person should be able to manage to copy successful strategies. However, a blog is not a social network, so again, don’t look to bloggers to manage social network strategies. The foundations of profiles, roles, leadership, tools, rewards, subgroups, rituals, events and so on just aren’t there, on a blog.
    I don’t really think that the tools make a difference. Managing a campaign through say, Facebook, or a ‘dine in’ network is not much different than some of the stuff we used to do on bulletin boards and forums. A Twitter support account is not fundamentally different from an IRC #help channel. I use the same skills today that I used in the ’80’s and ’90s. *shrugs* they work, no matter what the new ‘experts’ say.

    But it is amusing to sit in a meeting and hear people say “oh social network strategies are too new, we don’t have any proof XYZ approach works” Having case studies and testimonials is a blessing. Which brings us back to the first point – any “expert” that says that there is no proof, just opinions, is a carpetbagger hiding their own lack of experience. :)

  93.  by  Geoff Livingston

    @Laurel @Mack One good thing about having three years of experience doing SM, while not enough to say that I am an “Expert,” I do have enough experiences to say this definitively: Personal blogging experience does not equate to professional blogging success. I’ve seen it a couple of times now where the personal brand could not make it work for cos on projects we participated in. In each case the blogger could not connect with the comunnity, either through content or failure to participate in larger conversations.

    Publishing content is not the end all be all of social media. Copying successful strategies are not easy in social media. There are so many factors at play that one size does not fit all. Communities remain the center point, and that’s the ultimate crux of the successful strategy. Figuring out how the company can build meaningful interaction with its community.

  94.  by  Laurel Papworth

    Oh twenty years here. I do think I can use the word “expert” though I am learning all the time :)

    Running virtual worlds is different from running forums is different from managing blog is different from gaining take up of an iphone app or facebook app. But at the end of the day, done it a few dozen times, there’s not too many suprises. :)

    I don’t think social networks are about media at all. more than social media but we’ll see how deep and far social network impact goes, I guess.

  95.  by  Geoff Livingston

    @Laurel Umm, twenty years of social media experience or online experience? Social media has not been around that long sorry, at least as I define it. I don’t count bulletin boards and the like. Also if it’s online you are claiming, I’ll call in my full 15 years. I think defining media is also in order since it’s apparent this conversation is quickly devolving into bragging and semantics.

  96.  by  Laurel Papworth

    Nah, not just online. I ran a media campaign for Twin Peaks (IRC, Usenet the full works) in 1989 and then managed ‘citizen journalists’ and volunteer moderators in virtual worlds in the ’90s. And if you don’t think BBS and IRC and Usenet are a forerunner of social media, what on earth do you think Compuserve was? Started in 1969, online community for financiers… ?

  97.  by  Geoff Livingston

    @Laurel You know, I got my start on Prodigy in the late 80s, too,and I programmed my first web site in 1994. Do I have more chest beating points now? I just question the validity of the conversation when we are talking about the widespread proliferation of two-way conversational media throughout the business world as a means of marketing. That really started this decade.

  98.  by  Laurel Papworth

    Carpetbaggers have a tendency to diss anyone who has actually managed social networks for more than 3 years as “chest beaters” 😛 Being a member of prodigy and writing HTML is not enough. You have to have actually run events and campaigns and engagement strategies since the ’80s. And nah, the mechanics of building and managing online communities has not changed this decade.. just the number of experts who claim knowledge. :)

    Did you work at Prodigy? Did you know Hannah Schwartz a founder? She is now running a dating social network with high revenue. Experience does count :)

  99.  by  mack collier

    If anyone is claiming or even implying 20 years exp in social media, then I think they just validated one of the reasons why Beth and Geoff wrote this post 😉

    As for Seth Godin, I would partly agree with his ‘expert’ status sometimes being suspect. But the fact is that many people DO view him as an expert on almost any subject he writes/speaks on. And he’s often spoke on how best to use Twitter, even though he doesn’t. I can give you dozens of names of Twitter users that are NOT social media consultants that I would hire to launch a Twitter initiative for a company, before I would Seth. Simply because he’s spent zero time on Twitter and doesn’t understand the dynamics of the community from a first-hand perspective.

    Geoff as far as having a successful personal blogger successfully coach a company on creating a successful blog, I guess it depends on how you define ‘successful’. I think one definition of a ‘successful’ personal blog would be one where there is a high level of interaction between the blogger and his/her readers. On AND off the blog. If a blogger knows how to create that sense of community on their personal blog, my guess is they’d probably be able to coach/train a company on creating the same environment for their blog.

    On the flipside, I can think of more than one ‘thought leader’ whose blog has little to no interaction, that only tweets when s/he is broadcasting a link to their latest post, and that never comment on other blogs, save the top 5 ‘A-Listers’. If it came down to hiring one of these ‘thought leaders’ or a ‘successful’ personal blogger to train a company on successful blogging, the personal blogger is who I’d hire every time.

    But I’m just talking about having them coach/train the bloggers, not on creating a comprehensive social media strategy and successfully integrating that with an existing business communications strategy. THAT could easily be a disaster waiting to happen.

    And I will join Laurel in wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, from both sides of the globe 😉

  100.  by  Laurel Papworth

    Mack, here’s one from 14/15 years ago – cross media campaign to promote Pink Floyd’s album using Usenet alt-music.pink-floyd.

    We did some interesting things through usenet before then – with rec.auto.vw if I remember correctly. About 1992? And I think I mentioned, I modded a #Twinpeaks Usenet and IRC channel for a while in 1989, 1990.

    We didn’t really do heavy cross promotional marketing into virtual worlds until the mid 90s, though George Lucas’s Habitat was a success in the ’80s.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habitat_(video_game) and eventually (late ’80s) became a branded social media world for Fujitsu. Most of the communities I ran then were outsourced for developers or else branded entertainment worlds.

    I don’t mind that newbies don’t realise that this stuff has been going on for years. But calling us fibbers and carpetbaggers means NO CHRISTMAS PRESENTS FOR YOU!

    By the way, recommend you follow @hrheingold (Howard Rheingold) and @amyjokim (Amy Jo Kim) on Twitter – both have been in online community space for 15- 20 years and are not, by any stretch of the imagination, carpetbaggers.

    And no, not chest beating, just educating…

    May the New Year bring you much love and joy! :)

  101.  by  mack collier

    “I don’t mind that newbies don’t realise that this stuff has been going on for years. But calling us fibbers and carpetbaggers means NO CHRISTMAS PRESENTS FOR YOU!”

    Never said you were fibbing, but I do think you are exaggerating. Blogs weren’t around in 1988. Neither was Twitter or Facebook or YouTube. If you want to say you have been actively using online tools and networks since then, fine. But each tool and group of tools have different properties and each has its own community dynamics at work that must be experienced to be completely understood.

    I don’t have a problem with you listing your online work since the 80s. All very nice and credible accomplishments.

    But if you want to extrapolate from your work online since the 80s that you now have over two decades of experience in social media, then you’re going to have people challenge why you are putting such a loose definition to the term ‘social media’.

    I was writing very crude RPGs for my TI-994A in 1984 at the age of 13. Doesn’t mean I have been 24 years of computer programming experience.

  102.  by  Lucretia Pruitt

    Dunno Mack – I’m partially with Laurel on this one. What was marketing on BBSes and Usenet except the early practice of using social media for marketing?
    Tell me that we weren’t engaging in “Social Media” (although I shudder at using a term for the technology tools to broadstroke describe many industries which use them to varying effect and in different manner) and I’ll argue back that BBSes were the first ‘computerized social networking platforms’ and that you’re arguing semantics.

    Is ‘folk medicine’ not still a form of medicine despite the fact that it’s not formalized by an institution?
    Laurel’s examples may not have been called “social media marketing” but that’s what they were. Marketing where you had to engage the target audience in two-way conversation rather than just talking at them.

    I think it was rather impossible to be on Usenet back in the early 90’s and not see that online “word of mouth” had the ability to promote or detract from a company’s bottom line.

    It’s hard for me to agree with Laurel since the timing of her comment sort of implied that my comment about “media” being the tools made me some sort of newbie late to the game – I just didn’t bother to address it because my own credentials are sufficient for my colleagues and clients.

    Do I think that writing text-based RPGs in 1984 gives you 24 years of programming experience? No more than my writing spaghetti code in Apple Basic in 1982 on a ][e gives me 27 years of ‘programming experience.’ But it does mean that my first exposure to writing code was back in the 80’s. If I had gone on from there to spend the next 26 years solely focused professionally on writing code, I’d probably feel comfortable saying ’26 years’ – but I went off and did other things as well before getting back to code in the 90s.

    I think the problem is that we’re all still trying to agree on what “Social Media” is, what our terminology is (so far, all of the terms for the users and the professionals are clunky and not widely agreed upon – practioners? users? mavens? sheesh, they all sound ick) and whether or not we’re going to be one profession or many. (There’s no way that PR uses social media tools the same way Real Estate, Marketing, Education, or just plain business networking do.)

    Still, this discussion thread has proven one of the more interesting ones I’ve seen of late! :)

    Best, LMP

  103.  by  Laurel Papworth

    Matt are you still programming MMORPGs? Cos if so, I’d class you up there with Lord British as a personal hero of mine 😛

    I recommend you don’t define social media by the tools or the brand names. Look for commonality for what people do online or offline. Then present the foundations with clear case studies over the years. This way, open synchronous chat becomes Twitter or IRC or a myriad of other tools/brands. Closed, gated communities with asynch comms could be Facebook or guilds online or whatever. The way of using each social channel (medium pl. media) depends on the communication infrastructure and community culture behind them, not the brand or the tool.

    Then you can see that the really large communities that have been online since the 70’s don’t fundamentally change. The tools just get cooler and the brands get hotter. Cheers :)

  104.  by  Geoff Livingston

    @lucretia The problem with this conversation is there is no finite definition of social media that we are working off of. And like Mack, I don’t agree with the definition of USENETs or listservs as social media. While these tools were 1.0 precursors, I believe social media marketing truly arose in this decade with the widespread proliferation of blogging and YouTube.

    I am officially exiting this conversation. The 25 was a silly riff of a post that many people took personally. But if it hurt, there’s a reason for it, and I guess that really means there’s some soul searching to do.

    Beth and I were asked by several people to publish a post highlighting 25 ways to gage if you have a savvy social media consultant. We’ll be working on that for early January. And realizing that this is a much more charged issue with many personal self images on the line than we originally anticipated, our language will be a little softer this time.

  105.  by  Charles Abernathy

    The basic “tilt” with this entire discussion, and most others propping up the infallibility of social media experts, is found in the intent of #25…”Believes that social media is the provence of marketing or advertising.” The glaring naivete of that phrase makes me smile. It reminds me of WAY back in the early ’90’s, when clients were starting to do these things called websites, and the web designers declared that they really weren’t part of an agency’s creative department. Their work simply couldn’t be held to the same standard as other communications. It was, after all, The Web.

    Check out the first episode of Season 2 of Mad Men. There’s a young creative team that’s telling the “older” creatives that their generation doesn’t want to be “talked to” anymore. Their new way of communicating to consumers is the only way that will really work. And that was 1962!

    Bottom line, in a capitalist society, it’s always ABOUT the bottom line. And that responsibility lies in the marketing department. Social mediaratti can make themselves a lot more relevant by embracing that fact. Any communications that spur action and eventual purchase are, by definition, marketing.

    Seems to me that, if you’re not a publisher yourself (in which case you’re making personal revenue off of your own ad hits), you’re a capitalist tool. That’s not bad. It’s just the business of marketing.

  106.  by  Lucretia Pruitt


    I think you and I agree completely that the issue is that we have yet to define the limits of what is considered “social media” – if we’re limiting it to WWW then I agree completely that including anything prior as ‘experience’ doesn’t work.

    I’m not taking any of this personally – I certainly hope anyone else isn’t!! In fact, I find the conversation very relevant and timely. That it was spurred by a light post is also intriguing :)

    But I agree – it’s probably going to be a charged issue as long as people think that disagreeing with something y’all said here invalidates them.

    I think it’s time to move on to your next post – how about “what is Social Media marketing”? 😉

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  111.  by  patrick

    uh, shouldn’t #1 be “Actually allows themselves to be called a Social Media Expert?”

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  114.  by  Jimmy

    I think #4 is critical. If you get #4 right you are on your road to success. Many times I sit in meetings and on calls where the marketing team can not tell me how doing something in 2.0 fits into to the overall marketing program. Web 2.0 is not a magic wand that when you use it, you have instant success. Using web 2.o must be strategic.

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  116.  by  Rod

    This is a great post. I think I have made some mistakes here and I am glad I found this post. Have bookmarked you and will read more of your posts. Thanks!

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  123.  by  Matthew Diehl

    Absolutely great list. I am really new to social media and just trying to learn how to leverage it for marketing. Based on your list I have already run into a large amount of “carpetbaggers” out there.

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  133.  by  Mary Mcknight

    OK, I’m just going to say it outright, most of the self proclaimed “social media gurus/experts” out there are neither gurus/experts nor cool and have probably never been or made a brand/company/executive/collective staff a total rock star on any social network. Basically, they are losers that tell everyone they are popular and some believe it while the rest of search for proof. Fact is, the cool kids never give tutorials on how they became cool. Social media is pure social science – it’s how you get along and become a leader in a group. But the rub is – this is in the geek world and all the experts hail from that world rather than from either marketing or social science. geeks are not fit to lead social media campaigns. You need prom queens, plain and simple you need to teach “cool” to have a successful campaign.

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  145.  by  Theodore Mander

    Thank you for this article! As an executive who is constantly researching innovative marketing strategies this helps me see where I am falling short and what I am doing well.

    Theodore Mander
    NevaeH Jewelry

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  150.  by  Martin Grobisen

    #26) Oh, you should do a viral video just like the guy who pulverizes everything in a blender. Oh, I love that guy.
    Oops that is not a Social Media Expert, that’s my boss. Ouch!

  151.  by  david

    has setup a digg account and hasnt got one lead off it yet… yet to digg any articles, they are too busy trying to understand why on twitter they have no followers and keep reading tweets to “make money from home”

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  153.  by  Kain Tietzel

    Well that was a soul destroying post. I just realised that, on the whole, I AM that carpetbagger. They’re great insights but at the same time I think it’s bullshit that ANYONE can claim to truly understand social media – it’s morphing and changing all the time. All we can really do is have a crack at it, measure it, refine it and try again.

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  159.  by  Dave

    It feels like you were aiming for the number “25” rather than making the best list possible. Some of the later points feel kind of amateur to me…

    …For example, insisting that your social media expert have her own personal blog on which she posts several times a week. It’s like insisting that your company only use blue pens, or that all emails are responded to with emails and never phone calls. A true expert is going to make an informed assessment of what a client needs and then use the best tools for the job.

    …Which makes your point 18 sound kind of ridiculous. I think the point you’re actually trying to make is that it’s important to actually care about the people at the other end, but it reads as an uninformed jab at logical decision making and building a strategy in general.

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  162.  by  Naomi

    I would slightly change #10 to read:

    10) Their blog is less than six months old and they focus too heavily on blog comments due to their lack of understanding regarding fragmented conversations.

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  165.  by  Cary Richards, The Marketing Mentor Institute

    Alright, so we got that all you guys think you have the secret and that anybody new to the space isn’t in the club yet. So how about coming with some useful info with an eye towards contributing to people rather than sitting back and acting smug about your superior knowledge about a subject that is not only complicated and broad, but expanding rapidly and ever changing.
    This subject is very hard to get a true handle on and I would agree that there probably aren’t many “Real” experts out there yet.
    which probably includes most of you clowns.

  166.  by  Umang Shah

    I like most of these. I do have to add, having a new blog doesn’t make you a “Carpetbagger”. I, for one, created a new blog to specifically focus on this area and to differentiate my other blogs. That shouldn’t take away from my 10+ years of past experience implementing Social Media Strategies for major corporations.

    I would just suggest people not focus too much on any one aspect when evaluating a resource. You should be able to tell pretty quickly if your “expert” is full of hot air or can add real value to your organization. Don’t forget – Quality over Quantity.

  167.  by  Tom Smith

    There’s no need to be like that… no really.

    It’s difficult to even think about coming up with “useful info” on Social Media because the subject, as you say is complicated, broad, expanding and ever changing. It would be like asking a group of architects to say “something useful” about your extension – there’d be a mass of opinion, some good, bad and irrelevent all of which would be off the mark with regards to the buildings-in-general debate.

    It’s true that there are a lot of “Social Media Experts” out there at the moment. Like the field of usability where practitioners come from diverse backgrounds psychology, visual design, documentation writers, education, software development and even library sciences… each discipline brings new skills.

    The “problem” with Social Media is that it tends to mean very different things for every organisation and business simply because the customers for each are hanging out in different parts of the internet, in different ways, with different devices and at different times.

    Social Media isn’t a “here’s the answer” subject.. and can’t be, which is kind of the point you aren’t grasping. And yes, lots of us have “secrets” just as you will too. With many of these secrets, simply publishing them would be blowing our IP. You don’t get investment bankers publishing formulas of “how they did it” … and top chefs won’t knock you up a burger just because you’re hungry.

    But yes, anyone who calls themselves an “expert” or “guru” (rather than other people calling them an expert) is a bit of an idiot (like me) unless they can back it up with some hard won experience, which we all can, can’t we guys?!

    Now… tell me how you identify a “real” expert? If you can answer that one, it’d make you an expert expert.

  168.  by  Geoff Livingston

    It’s clear to me that many who have commented recently 1) have not seen that we posted a more positive follow-up showing ways to recognize a strong SM consultant: http://tinyurl.com/9heewq; and 2) are triggered by one of the above. You’re entitled to your opinion as we are ours. We stand by our original list, and I personally have to say that sometimes the guilty dogs bark loudest.

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  180.  by  Ralph DeLuca

    It seems like most social media “experts” are just internet snake oil salesmen. It would be great to find an honest, knowledgeable consultant….
    Ralph DeLuca
    Madison, NJ

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  182.  by  Mike Russell - @planetrussell

    Geoff, Steve Radick from Booz Allen Hamilton, my Government 2.0 Camp DC co-panelist (of “Get On Board the Government 2.0 Cluetrain: or Get Hit By It” fame) has an outstanding post today directly related to this theme: “What’s Your Government 2.0 Personality Type?” http://tr.im/my7g

    He calls the “carpetbagger” the “opportunist,” and also identifies some other familiar roles and mindsets anyone who’s ever managed a Web 2.0 or Government 2.0 project will undoubtedly recognize.

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  209.  by  Cyndee Haydon

    Beth and Geoff – this list is priceless.

    I feel like people don’t say they are unemployeed or under-employeed now everyone I meet is a “social media expert”.

    You’re right, It is all about having conversations. I believe executives and employees need to share in their own voice and also think one size doesn’t fit all.

    This should be a “must read” before hiring a “social media consultant”

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  229.  by  Kyle Lanning

    Thinks facebook is a book with people’s faces from around the world. “Hey, yesterday, did you hear this? Computer hackers managed to shut down Twitter and my favorite, Facebook, for several hours. In a related story, yesterday American productivity jumped by 159%.” (:

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