8 Questions to Ask Your "Social Media Expert"

Expert Quality?Ike Pigott wrote an excellent post today for Media Bullseye about the pack mentality emerging on Twitter. More specifically, he wrote about the glut of “whizkids” appearing out of nowhere and positioning themselves as social media consultants or experts:

“…we have a glut of people selling their expertise on how you should handle “the Twitter community” who have zero experience using the service the way most people do. They hopped on board the Consultancy Express, went straight to the head of the line, and now want to tell you how to talk to people at all of the stops they skipped.”

I wrote recently about the “expert” term and whether it was time we started to use that term. This post isn’t about that. It’s about weeding-out the pundits from the practitioners.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of seeing people sign up for Twitter, follow ten thousand people (many of whom follow back) to build a substantial following, then start spouting advice as though followers equals expertise. Some of them are experts, for sure. Others, however, seem to have little beyond a big mouth to back their words up.

Almost as annoying, but just as dangerous, are the hordes of traditional practitioners that have realized they need to include social media in their pitches nowadays, but have no experience whatsoever using those tools.

Where to start?

Dave Jones set up a wiki to track Canadian social media case studies (which I will get to soon, I promise) and Peter Kim did the same for social media marketing examples south of the border, both of which are good places to start.

Ike came up with a question to weed out the Twitter newbies from those who have some experience:

What is your experience using the web interface on Twitter?”

Here are a couple of questions I would ask at a more general level:

1. Can you give me an example of social media work you’ve completed for a client recently?

If you hear anything other than “yes, here’s a good example” then back away slowly. Or not so slowly.

2. How do you go about pitching bloggers?

If you hear the words “blind copy,” “news release” or “email blast,” look elsewhere.

3. How do you monitor what people are saying about you?

If the answer stops with blogs, you’ve got yourself a fake.

4. Where can I find you online?

You want doers, not talkers. Choose people with a presence (although, as I said, a big mouth isn’t everything).

5. Can you (ghost) write my blog for me?

No, they can’t. They might be able to offer you some topic suggestions to get you started, but if they offer to ghost-write your blog, yell “fraud!”

6. How do you measure results?

No, “website hits” don’t count as a metric. Ever.

7. How would you define social media?

PR isn’t press releases, media lists or speeches. Social media isn’t a list of tools. Same principle. Your “expert” should start with principles. Occasionally you might hear a tool within that.

8. Can you just pretend to be me online?

No. Just no.

What question would you ask?

117 comments

Trackbacks

  1. Twitter Comment


    8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” – [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  2. Twitter Comment


    8 Questions to ask your “social media expert”: [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  3. Twitter Comment


    RT @jpeyronnel – 8 Questions to ask your “social media expert”: [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  4. [...] seems to be a meme going around on the question of experts. We cover a great post by Dave on this issue, and there have been others. These lists are interesting and these are good questions [...]

  5. Twitter Comment


    “8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” (Dave Fleet) [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  6. Twitter Comment


    RT @simpliflying: Airlines, listen up! “8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” | davefleet.com” ( [link to post] )

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  7. Twitter Comment


    Airlines, listen up! “8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” | davefleet.com” ( [link to post] )

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  8. [...] can come from all levels of experience – and no one should ever feel shunned because they ask a question or make a suggestion. Listening is the first step. What we should be doing is evolving a natural curiosity and pushing [...]

  9. Twitter Comment


    Do you know what to ask? 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  10. [...] TweetA couple of years ago, I wrote a post about 8 factors to consider when selecting a “social media expert.” Looking back now, I can see how my approach has evolved and matured since then. [...]

  11. [...] 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” (Dave Fleet) – Piggy-backing on Chris Brogan’s post, take a look at Dave Fleet’s post on vetting your consultants and/or social media marketing staff. Don’t go into this world blind. [...]

  12. [...] first sign of this was the excellent “8 Questions to Ask your Social Media Expert” on Dave Fleet’s blog – a clear sign that people who’ve blogged a bit are [...]

  13. [...] Dave Fleet: Follow Dave Fleet’s blog for a look at communications, social media, and PR. (Recommended Post: 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert”) [...]

  14. [...] Dave Fleet has a post that readers might find helpful: 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert”. [...]

  15. […] underestimate the importance of balance.  You need people that are “Social Media experts“…but you also need people who can influence the […]