Explaining The Social Media Consultant Onslaught

with 6 Comments

People love to bitch about there being an overabundance of social media consultants our there on the internet.

5 Reasons People Bitch About The Abundance Of Social Media Consultants

  1. They think they are opportunists just out for quick money
  2. They think they are talentless
  3. They think they have no experience
  4. They think they are annoying (pushy/egocentric)
  5. They think they make the industry look silly

They are probably right. Well, mostly. Obviously we are not talking about Jason Falls, Tom Martin, Amber MacJay Baer, Clay Hebert, and Paul Gillin. They do quality high level engagement stuff. Check them out.

But here is the thing.

Most of these “consultants” are never doing social media consulting.

How do I know? Because once upon a time… wait for it… I was a social media consultant.

Ok, are you done with all the dirty looks? Good. Moving forward.

So if they are not doing social media consulting then why do all these folks call themselves consultants and what are they really doing?

The term is ubiquitous because it makes sense. Most of the people in this category want to be able to get paid to help businesses with social media. The term is the simplest expression of that task.

The problem that becomes an immovable brick wall that many “consultants” run into — is that most companies do not want to pay for consulting. They do not want high level strategy or long term planning. They want to get their feet wet not swim the channel.

What ARE they ready for?

2 Things Companies Likely Want To Hire A Social Media Consultant For

  1. Intro Training
  2. Community Management

Basically you can translate those two things into “teach me about it” and “do it for me”. Where as most real consultants are instead providing long term research, strategy, guidance, and management of implementation. Most “consultants” are more often teaching companies about the tactics and culture of social medi or actually tweeting, Facebooking, and blogging on their behalf.

This makes sense considering how much of an education gap there is out there between social media talents and companies jumping into social media.

There is nothing wrong with this. If you have a passion for social media and time to commit. Why would you mind someone paying you to tweet on their behalf or to come in once a month and teach them a thing or two about this new space. This is both a good opportunity for both parties AND good experience to ultimately work your way up toward more substantive social media consulting.

When I decided to do social media consulting, I was escaping form the world of advertising and had some strategy background. However, most of my first few clients all wanted training and community management. If I had the time, I took those opportunities. And they helped me greatly.

So how can we improve the mood around the discussion of social media consultants?

Simple 3 Step Resolution To Hostilities

  1. Encourage more correct labeling, such as “I do introductory social media training and Twitter management”
  2. Realize that this is a big beautiful open ocean of an industry and that growing pains are inevitable. In other words, try not to bitch too much about it and let the industry evolve.
  3. Encourage and promote those consultants, trainers, and independent community managers who are doing things the right way.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

6 Responses

  1. Mark - Life Coach

    Social media consultants sometimes struggle on trying to find the best way to communicate to an audience. They often behave like third parties. Trying to become someone else only makes you sound weird.

  2. BrentAllan

    Nice article. Sad but true. I know one social media consultant who doesn’t even know about things like Facebook Fanpages and such.

  3. confectioner

    Great points, I had a company ask me to give them specifics on how social media could help their business, I researched the issues and wrote up a plan with both tactical and strategic plans. Several months later I came to find that the task was assigned to a low-level employee, who only wrote an occasional Facebook update from home as Facebook site was banned from work computers. There is a huge amount of inertia to overcome but companies that “get” social media are for the most part larger, mature(advert and promo programs) and aware of media’s important role. Social Media had a chance to become a great equalizer but the magic ingredient is willpower and commitment, many small companies have this ingredient but too many do not.

  4. Bradley Gauthier

    Great Post! My two cents:nAs with any industry just blooming, there is going to be an overabundance of offerings. And since there is relatively little to no barriers to entry in social media consulting, it’s even worse. Add to this, the huge percentage of scam artists and “get-rich-quick” promoters, and the industry is definitely viewed in a negative light.nnThe only hope for true social media consultants is to ride the wave and outlast the low-quality “gurus” out there.nnThanks for the post!

  5. Anita Chapman-Hovey

    Great post. I am one of those “consultants” who IS offering to do community management…there is a huge gap in that around here.

  6. DIVYA