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?

228 Responses to8 Questions to Ask Your "Social Media Expert"

  • Ask the “social media expert” to show you their delicious links. When did they start tagging their saved articles “social+media” or “socmed?” Early 2009? Late 2008? Earlier? My guess is that you’ll learn a lot when they open up their own social media life to you.

  • I agree that more discussion is needed on temporary ghost blogging. We help our clients get up and running on their blogs as they typically don’t have the initial time it takes to be successful. We write from their research and direction, and then make them edit our copy to lend their unique voice. We’re sort of like the training wheels in the first 90 days or so, and then we push them out of the nest. Do others of you do the same?

  • Great post Dave, and I really enjoyed reading all of the comments. I learned a lot as how not to answer questions during an interview, but wanted to see if you could read my latest post and tell me whether the answers I am giving are good or not. Thank you so much in advance for your help.

  • I wish I’d seen your post before I wrote my own on a slightly different aspect of the same quesiton last night in response to a twitter comment and a client question. I will go back and link to this one. I want my clients to see your info.

    One definite thing to look for is evidence of clients. From testimonials to interactions with clients on social networking sites.

    Also, do they have clients in your type of business/industry that they can point to, or clients the same size as your company? What works for @Zappos may not work for a mom and pop store; what works for a sole proprietor coach may not work for a sole proprietor fiction book author. Or are they versatile enough that their skills are transferable.

    Many who are coming on line now are claiming a large following and are info marketers – selling their ebook, ecourse or widget. For many of them, large numbers may work – as they are looking for a flash-in-the-pan quick sale, or are looking to recruit other info marketers. But for sustaining company growth, as a client of mine said on Twitter last week – 10,000 followers are just numbers, how many are paying clients, customers and partners are actually there? And I would add, how many will be repeat customers/clients.

    I come from a non-profit and small busines PR background – I think that has helped me, we did not have that big biz, product push the word out POV.

    One last point – some experts are very knowled-geable, but are not great teachers/coaches. One niche where I’ve been effective in is helping the non-tech types. I can easily translate the jargon down to things they can understand. There are good business people out there who still don’t get what an RSS reader is and how it works, who are using LinkedIn, but say they don’t know anything about social networking – they don’t even know that LinkedIn is a form of social networking.

    Let’s not forget how it felt whenever it was that we jumped in.

    I have grown my network on Twitter organically, over time, and it is what I teach my clients to do.

  • 1.Is the social media space right for my organization?

    Because not everybody should be here. A good consultant should be able to gauge the clients needs and expectations and, if necessary, lose the client by suggesting that SM is not right for their aspirations.

    2. What’s a great example of blogger relations?

    If the consultant answers with anything immoral, questionable or just plain boring, he’s not one I’d want on my side.

  • I asked our consultants #2 directly, “2. How do you go about pitching bloggers?” Their response was that they’d have to get back to me…it’s been 3 days, still waiting for it.

    I was inspired by this post to write something similar for those asked to deal with an internal Social Media Team:

    http://www.benphoster.com/?p=39

    Here’s a summary:
    1 – Will the team have access to any tool, technology, or website they want?
    2 – What is your “VPV” – Visitor Value Proposition?
    3 – How does the organization deal with negative feedback?
    4 – What is the biggest regulatory/compliance restraint facing the social media strategy?
    5 – Who does the social media team report to?
    6 – What metrics are management using to measure success?

Trackbacks & Pings

  • DorothyBeach (Dorothy Beach) :

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    RT -Great stuff! @mayhemstudios: RT @karasmamedia: @styletime: 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

    11 years ago
  • vascellari (Andrea Vascellari) :

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    @davefleet I just read your post on Social Media Expert [link to post] so I thought you might have want to check this;) http://is.gd/czBg

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    11 years ago
  • Aerocles (David) :

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    RT @zaibatsu: 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” [link to post]

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    11 years ago
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    RT: @zaibatsu 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” [link to post]

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    RT @zaibatsu: [link to post]

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  • nhprman (nhprman) :

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    RT @zaibatsu 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” [link to post] (seems 90% here claim 2 B “SM experts.”)

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

    11 years ago
  • bgrier (Brad Grier) :

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    RT @tturbo: RT: @zaibatsu: 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

    11 years ago
  • davidsburns (David S. Burns) :

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    RT nhprman: RT @zaibatsu 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” [link to post] (seems 90% here claim 2 B “SM experts.”)

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

    11 years ago
  • crystalware (Crystal) :

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    8 Questions you should ask your “social media expert” [link to post] Lots of other great questions in the comments.

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

    11 years ago
  • pjeedai (Tim Stewart) :

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    RT: @zaibatsu: 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” [link to post] and if they fail ask if they want to buy some magic beans

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

    11 years ago
  • evavoors (Eva Voors) :

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    RT@zaibatsu 8 Q’s for your “social Media expert” : [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

    11 years ago
  • Akhia (AKHIA) :

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    Interesting Read: 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” [link to post] from @davefleet

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    11 years ago
  • JessicaGalliart (JessicaGalliart) :

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    Good advice; I agree on the annoying “experts” RT @acmaurer RT @zaibatsu 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

    11 years ago
  • caseycapshaw (Casey Capshaw) :

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    RT gwenbell & @zaibatsu 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

    11 years ago
  • hbaumann (hbaumann) :

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    RT @dougpetch: RT @zaibatsu: 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

    11 years ago
  • danstorch (Dan Storch) :

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    @billcarroll you’ll love this: 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

    11 years ago
  • Making an impact | acmaurer :

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  • Comment on “Is you is or is you ain’t: Social Media Expert” « Cara Mitchell :

    […] or is you ain’t: Social Media Expert” on February 11, 2009. This post (in response to a post by Dave Fleet) raises questions that anyone who claims to be a social media expert should be ready […]

    11 years ago
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  • MultiVu (Tweeting Now: Kellie) :

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    Noticing a lot of ‘social media experts’ on here lately. Here are 8 questions to ask before you hire – [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

    11 years ago
  • ProfNet (Maria Perez) :

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    RT @MultiVu: Noticing a lot of ‘social media experts’ on here lately. Here are 8 questions to ask before you hire – [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

    11 years ago
  • mistymeeks (mistymeeks) :

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    Just read and enjoyed this post by @davefleet on how to spot FAKE social media experts: [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

    11 years ago
  • mjleonard (mjleonard) :

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    RT @cheth: RT @matthewduerksen: RT @styletime: 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

    11 years ago
  • cvvalencia (Carolina V. Valencia) :

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    post from days ago: eight Qs to ask your “social media expert” [link to post] important Qs but kinda “duh.” via @palafo @styletime

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    11 years ago
  • TeddyTowncrier (Teddy Towncrier) :

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    RT @styletime 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” [link to post]

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    11 years ago
  • sampsa (Sampsa Kiianmaa) :

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    Good one: RT @lauraleedooley: RT @styletime 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” – [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

    11 years ago
  • ChiqueLife (Robyn Volker) :

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    RT @styletime via @lauraleedooley 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” – [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

    11 years ago
  • wakeuplaughing (Juli) :

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    RT @TwURLedNewsSM 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” | davefleet.com – [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

    11 years ago
  • TwURLedNewsSM (TwURLedNews - Social) :

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    8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” | davefleet.com – [link to post]

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    11 years ago
  • jaysonambrose (jaysonambrose) :

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    RT: @TwURLedNewsSM: 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” | davefleet.com – [link to post]

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    11 years ago
  • steviedove (Stevie Dove) :

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    RT @TwURLedNewsSM: 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” [link to post]

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    11 years ago
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    RT @TwURLedNewsSM: 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert” | davefleet.com – [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

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    @AnnaGoBlue good article on a good blog: [link to post]

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