I was talking to a couple of friends over the weekend about how the internet has made celebrities out of nobodies. I was put in the spotlight because I work in the general digital/social media space, and was absolutely ashamed when they asked me to name a few famous people who blog and what exactly they do. I realized that so many people on the web today (I don’t want to name names) who claim to specialize in ‘social media research and consultancy’ or something along those lines, have effectively built their reputations on the basic abilities to use e-mail, blog, tweet, use Facebook – or a combination of these. And they in turn advise businesses on how best to use these web spaces. Isn’t that a bit sad? Where is actual knowledge being created? It’s like the joke about management consultants in the old days: management consultants are people you pay good money to tell you that you messed up and how to run your business. (If you don’t see how that is ironic, this post is not for you).
Are social media consultants the management consultants of today?
Doesn’t the whole social media business model need to be re-vamped? How sustainable a model is it, because at some point aren’t all industries going to be web 2.0-compliant, so to speak? I mean, we have a whole generation of kids being born right now, for whom blogging, Facebook and Twitter will be like breathing air.
Are ‘social media consultants’ essentially people whom nobody would pay to do a proper full-time job, as my non-geek friends said? My first reaction was that that comment was rather harsh. Every industry has consultants, doesn’t it? Technology consultants, investment consultants and so on. Why NOT social media consultants then?
The truth is, the entry barrier to becoming a technology or an investment consultant is reasonably high. The entry barrier to becoming a digital/social media consultant is very low, on the other hand. Your kids are probably going to be better digital consultants than you in a few years’ time. Scary, isn’t it?
Is there a way where to raise the entry barrier for social media consultants, like making it mandatory to pass certain exams in order to lay claim to being an expert in the field so that clients are guaranteed a certain minimum level of expertise? You know, to minimize the amount of junk being spewed into the internet. I’m sure there are clients who are just not aware that the spiel from any particular social media expert is just hot air. When they hire them, those experts produce, or are key advisors in the production of, social media rubbish.
I’m just throwing some ideas around. Thoughts welcome.
Image credit: Hugh MacLeod