I’m A Social Media Celebrity…..Get Me Out Of Here!

social media specialist

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

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7 thoughts on “I’m A Social Media Celebrity…..Get Me Out Of Here!

  1. :) Made me smile – you’re not totally off the mark with reality, there are a good bunch of such ‘consultants’ out there who are doing just that – pretending to be marketing specialists.

    On the other hand, the landscape for marketers has indeed changed. with mainstream advertising not touching the new generation as much as it would want to, digital / social media has spring up new opportunities (which are easier to quantify for them as well). With audiences shifting from television and other touch points (for brands) onto the web, spending most of their time, well, ‘Facebooking’, if i may… these brands want the consumers’ attention/time using playing their own game.

    Social media was always around, but with Facebook, YouTube and the brigade coming in, things picked up pace, and not everyone in the party got with the theme. That’s where Social Media Consultants said “hey, look – that guy over there holding a drink pretending to have fun… he has no clue. i gotta help him” – while the Crooks replaced ‘help’ with ‘fleece’. I rest my case. And tired palm… phew!

    • hey kaushal – thanks for your comment. yes, it’s sad that so many people are literally making hay while the sun shines. i guess hot air can only blow for so long, before people figure out that they’re wasting their money. and regarding your tired palm – :)

  2. I agree that a lot of people who blog and twitter automatically think they’re social media experts but disagree with the need to create exam-based barriers – by introducing exams and min standards, you will simply cause a spurt in mediocre “experts” like the management consultants. Currently, since the space is growing everyday, the real experts stay on their toes and innovate. And we all know who the real experts are and who are the shams so it’s not as doomsday… yet!

    • Hi Prashant – very interesting thought regarding real experts innovating every day. Absolutely right with that – now if only more people were ‘real’ experts. I was just throwing thoughts about with the exam thing – I’ll just be relieved if less ‘pretend’ social media experts got so much media attention!

  3. Of course, you are what you produce … so hopefully people will perform some due diligence before hiring consultants. If your consultant has no online profile, no work to direct you to and no sense of community, then I would think twice before hiring them.

    Great post, Anjali.

    • Thanks for your comment Gavin! Yes, due diligence, but more importantly a stock-taking of what people really need vs. who can give that to them :)

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