Social Media Expert or Wannabe

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth 

Social Media Expert or WannabeDetermining whether someone is a social media expert or a just another wannabe can be a difficult task for the typical consumer. There is a tremendous amount of noise out there being created by a plethora of “consultants” professing expertise in what I refer to as the new social sciences: personal branding, social networking, social media marketing, etc. I just did a Google search for the term social media expert and had more than 96 million returned search results…give me a break. So my question is this: what constitutes a “social media expert,” and how do you tell the posers from the players? Which of these professed miracle workers are true professionals, and which ones are simply attempting to gravy-train a rapidly growing market niche in pursuit of a quick buck?

Let me begin by dispelling a popular myth oft espoused online – It seems to be fashionable of late to state that there is no such thing as a social media expert. The thinking (albeit flawed thinking) of those who hold this opinion is that social media is so new, and so rapidly evolving, that there simply could not be any real experts.

My answer? Ridiculous…Every industry has experts regardless of maturity of life-cycle. In fact, many of the real innovators and experts are those early adopters doing the heavy lifting and the ground breaking. There are experts in every industry and at every stage of maturation. Some early experts mature as the industry grows, and others fall by the way side because they don’t keep pace giving way to new generations of innovators building on what the first generation of experts created. The issue is not whether experts exist, as they most certainly do. The issue is finding them among the hordes of pretenders and wannabes.   

I’m going to cut right to the chase and give you six things to beware of when attempting to discern the true professional advisers capable of delivering a certainty of execution, from the rogues and scoundrels simply looking to separate you from your money:

  1. Beware the Part-Time Expert: My father has an old saying that I’ve found to be very accurate over the years: “part-time efforts, yield part-time results.” If the person seeking your business has a day job that constitutes something other than the services he or she is pitching, run for the hills. If your potential advisor is moonlighting then they really have no business asking for your business.
  2. Beware the Shoemaker without Shoes: Your position should be one of “don’t tell me…show me.” If your would-be social media guru cannot be found online, doesn’t blog, tweet, or is invisible on the major social networking platforms you might want to rethink their qualifications. Important Caveat: the mere existence of a blog, YouTube channel, LinkedIn profile, Facebook account, or a Twitter page doesn’t guarantee competence…any idiot can amass thousands of followers on Twitter just by following everybody and their brother, so look for someone who has amassed a quality list of followers, who has more people following them than they follow, and who actively engages with their followers.
  3. Beware the Expert without Clients: No referenceable clients equals zero credibility. It’s one thing to show you their own work, but quite another to show you demonstrated success on behalf of paying and satisfied clients.
  4. Beware the Expert without Industry Recognition: If your so called expert isn’t referenced as such by credible, independent third parties, isn’t published, doesn’t speak, lecture or teach, doesn’t have a column, hasn’t won any awards, etc., then they might not be a true expert.
  5. Beware the Expert too Aggressive in their Pursuit: There is a big difference between professional follow-up and desperation. Let me be blunt…most professionals at the top of their game haven’t made a cold call in years. In fact, even in this down economy they typically have more business than they know what to do with. If your world-beater of a consultant is chasing you down like a hungry dog after the meat wagon then you may want to take pause.
  6. Beware of Bargain Basement Expertise: In most cases the reality is that you get what you pay for…True expertise doesn’t come cheaply, but is well worth the investment. Few things in business will get you in as much trouble as not getting advice and counsel when needed, or worse yet, getting poor quality or incorrect advice. I would much rather pay an expert a larger fee for 30 minutes of their time and get what I need rather than pay someone $50 dollars an hour who is hoping to fake it until they can make it…Questionable advisors will take much longer to get from point a to point b (if they get there at all), and will likely cost you more money at the end of the day when contrasted with true professionals.  

If you need help in integrating social media into your business I would recommend the following individuals (some you may know and some you may not) as they all pass the litmus test mentioned above. Those listed below are in no particular order of preference and you can rest assured they are not “info-product” sales people masquerading as social media professionals, but they are in fact the true subject matter experts who can get the job done:

  • Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan): Chris is smart, approachable, innovative, has a high degree of integrity, probably the hardest working man on the planet, and a heck of a nice guy. I’ve enjoyed every interaction I’ve had with Chris, and he has earned my trust and respect.  
  • Mack Collier (@MackCollier): I don’t know Mack personally, but have enjoyed reading his candid and ever straight foward opinions online.  Mack is well respected and his the loyalty of his followers more than speak to his capabilities.
  • Lee Odden (@LeeOdden) I’ve known Lee for several years (before he was rich and famous). In fact, in a prior life as a corporate executive Lee was the consultant I chose to place on retainer. He is smart, seasoned and delivers on his promises. 
  • Amy Martin (@DigitalRoyalty) I guess the moniker Digital Royalty says it all…Amy represents some of the biggest names and fastest growning brands online. Nothing bodes as well for an agency as success, and Amy has plenty of pedigree in that department.  
  • Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) Ashton combines his celebrity status, a fascination with social media, and a disarming and ever inquistive intellect to head one of the fastest growing social media agencies on the web.   
  • Liz Strauss (@lizstrauss) – Liz is well known for her approachability, friendliness and candor. She also happens to be one of the savviest bloggers and social media consultants online.
  • And if you’re slumming:), feel free to check out our social media practice or ping me @mikemyatt – nuff said…

Related Post: “How to Select a Professional Advisor

Social Media 3.0

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Social Media 3.0Social Media 3.0…Okay, I said it and I’m sticking to it. It is time for Social Networking tools, applications and platforms to live up to their potential and make the iterative leap to next generation Social Networking, or “Social Media 3.0” if you will…While I have no intention of disputing the commercial success of YouTube (Google purchased it for $1.65 Billion dollars when it was only a 9-month old company), FaceBook, MySpace, LinkedIn, or any number of other organizations that have monetized on their first mover or early adopter advantage, Social Media is still in its infancy. For Social Networking to make the next leap in maturation it will need to move beyond advertising driven consumer models, and evolve to an enterprise class business platform. In today’s post I’ll examine what needs to happen for Social Media to go 3.0…

In a nutshell, here’s my problem with the current status quo of Social Networking…I have more than 6 million contacts in my LinkedIn network alone, and that along with .50 cents won’t even get me a cup of coffee. Okay, I’m being a bit harsh here, but the reality is that if you aggregate all of my contacts, in all of my social networks, I have a very unintuitive, and very large number of data records that don’t seamlessly integrate with one another, and therefore are not very easy to leverage. At present, I’m forced to bolt on various applications and toolsets like contact managers, SFA, CRM, BI, and KM tools to do a poor job of what the next evolution of social networking should accomplish by itself if engineered properly.

As I’ve stated in previous posts, I’m not interested in disparate contacts and data records…I want cohesive relationships, built upon actionable knowledge, which can be used to add value in meaningful ways. Most of all I’m looking for aggregation…I want to be able to efficiently and effectively work between and across various networks in a seamlessly integrated fashion. Those of us in the innovation business have an old saying that states: “You can’t do today’s job with yesterday’s information and survive to be in business tomorrow.” Understanding that we are just dusting the surface with Social Networking is paramount in being able to drive forward. User generated content is well and fine, linking profiles is interesting, but this is child’s play and not where the economic value or social benefit truly lies.

Social Media 3.0 will have more complex ontology, based upon reality mining and social graphing which will be integrated with reasoning and logic engines to produce useful intelligence that will allow businesses to better manage risk and to scale with much greater velocity and precision. One example of next generation Social Networking is IBM’s Atlas solution which maps social networks in the workplace. One of the functions of Atlas is identifying user connections via e-mail, IM, workgroups, duties, responsibilities, reporting lines, etc. An Atlas map shows the importance, value, location, frequency, and relevance of their social network in order to increase productivity and spawn new innovation and collaboration. Simply put, it is more than blogging and commenting…

Bottom line: As the better business minds apply more disciplined rigor in evolving Social Networking to a higher purpose, the rewards for business and society as a whole will be vast…The good news is that it won’t take long. At the current pace of development we’ll see huge advances within the next 12 – 18 months. Buckle-up as the ride will be a fun one…

Social Networking for Business

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth 

So what’s with all the buzz about social networking? What’s the difference between old school networking and social networking? As a CEO or entrepreneur why should you care? With so much being written about the impact of social networking on business and the numerous examples of companies that are capitalizing on its many benefits, I’m amazed at how few companies still just don’t get it. Not only has social networking arrived but it is clearly here to stay All you have to do is look at the tremendously successful companies that have been built upon the platform of social networking (MySpace, YouTube, Ryze, Linked-In, Flickr, Facebook etc.) or the unprecedented growth of the Blogosphere and you will quickly recognize that social networking is a powerful medium. In today’s post I’ll share my thoughts about why you can’t afford not to jump on the social networking bandwagon.

Let’s start with a bit of background The term “Social Networking” in its most classic sense is best defined as the study of how people interact with one another. It studies the dynamics between nodes (people) and links (their relationships). Since the term was coined in 1954 by J.A. Barnes its significance has leapt from the halls of academia to gain visibility in the boardrooms of global corporations. It has evolved from the study of human relations in sociological, anthropological and psychological settings to the study of professional relationships and organizational theory in business environments.

The difference between “old school” networking and the current form of social networking is the introduction of technology based community and user driven content on the internet. The proper use of blogs, podcasts, video, webinars, and other social media gives greater voice and brand extension to a broader base of constituencies than could have ever been addressed before. When all the buzzwords and techno-jargon are removed, social networking is about aligning interests and motivations to build relationships, establish a sense of extended community and create influence.

There are intelligent and well established business people with virtually non-existent networks and little true influence, and there are what would on the surface appear to be obscure individuals with huge networks who wield tremendous amounts of influence.  Social networking analysis has shown that the greatest amounts of power and influence inside the corporation don’t necessarily reside at the top of the org chart as one might think. Studies have concluded that the individuals who possess the most influence in a company are the most trusted people with the broadest base of connections, and not necessarily the person that has the highest rank or biggest title. Likewise, the same holds true for external networks It is about the quality (are the people in your network significant?), character (do the people in your network trust you and do you trust them?) and relevance (are the people in your network capable of wielding influence that is aligned with your needs?) of the people in your network that matter. 

While social networking is clearly allowing major corporations to be more productive by extending their brand and having better communication throughout the entire value chain, it is its impact on small business that is perhaps most impressive. The ability of social networking to level the playing field for the individual practitioner and the small or medium enterprise is truly awesome. It was the Internet that established the global economy, but it is social networking that is making it a reality. Businesses who ignore social networking will regret it, those that venture in with a lack of understand will be eaten alive by it and those that properly leverage social networking will create tremendous competitive separation.  

As a CEO or entrepreneur if you are not leveraging social networking your wrong .Forget the excuses, the rationalizations and the justifications as you don’t have time not to embrace social media. If you are doing your job you will agressively move to leverage both your personal and corporate brand through social networking. If you’re a CEO who doesn’t blog wake-up and start Social networking will allow you to gain mind-share with your constituencies like never before while improving customer loyalty and increasing both personal and corporate brand equity. Social networking will allow you better manage your reputation in the best of times and when the inevitable corporate faux-pas occurs it will allow you to stop the bleeding much faster. If you don’t understand social media and social networking hire someone who does.  

The old axioms “you’ll reap what you sew” or “give and you shall receive” have never been more accurate than when applied to social networking. If you are truly motivated to provide value and benefit to those in your network then you will receive value in return. However if you are a user and abuser of your network, only taking from others and giving nothing in return, you will bleed your network dry only to watch it crumble before your eyes. With proper motivation, careful construction and active management of your network there is no reason to assume that it won’t be a success. Focus on leveraging the most important spheres of influence for the mutual benefit of those in your network. If you adopt the suggestions contained in this post and embrace social networking your personal network will grow with geometric progression while spanning industries, geographies and cultures. Moreover you’ll extend your corporate brand, increase customer loyalty and create a broader sense of community both inside and outside the enterprise.