• Learn How to Build a Powerful Personal Brand That Will Differentiate You and Allow You To Compete in the Global Marketplace.
  • Could Your Social Media “Expert” be a Fake?

    If you haven’t already noticed, the concept of social media has become a mainstream topic that bloggers, media outlets and movie stars continually obsess over daily.

    As the “Oprah Effect” has taken root in the marketplace after featuring Facebook and Twitter on her show…the “social media craze” has been established and validated.

    The almighty status update

    Everywhere we turn the words “tweet,” “wall post,” and “status update” have become commonplace shared between social media evangelists and the general public alike.

    As these “new” cultural norms continue to be mentioned on every media channel available, businesses across the globe are in a frenzy about how they can really leverage this technology in a positive way to help their business’ bottom line.

    And as each business and fortune 500 corporation begins to even think about tackling this feat, the main question on the mind of every Senior VP of Marketing is…

    “What “expert” can I totally trust to help me integrate this technology into the companies business effectively and seamlessly…without doing more “harm” than good to our current business model?”

    Unemployment is at an all-time high

    In the time we are in, unemployment is at an all time high, and as more and more employees continue to be laid off, more and more “Social Media Experts” begin to pop up in the twitter stream and on Facebook daily.

    Most claim that they can help you use this powerful technology to reach your business goals.

    STOP for a second and THINK…

    Are these particular individuals actually qualified to teach marketing directors at companies how to really use this stuff, if they have only been using this technology for less than 6 months?

    Adding to this dilemma, another issue that needs to be addressed is…

    As these self proclaimed “Experts” point to non-credible “Results,” such as their twitter following and number of Facebook friends…the sad part is that these individuals believe that those “number statistics” make them think they actually know how to use this technology to help a business owner or marketing director.

    You accidentally made a mistake

    Maybe you have made the mistake, took one of these self-proclaimed “experts” at face value, with their “shoddy” statistics and chose to bring them on to help you with your business.

    After bringing them on, you now regret the decision because all you felt they did, was take your money, set up your social media accounts, showed you how to use the tools, but left out the most important part to using social media for business.

    You know…the part involves actually helping you effectively leverage the technology to help you reach your business goals in the space.

    In the end, the experience has totally put a bad taste in your mouth about these particular self-proclaimed “Experts”, and because of this experience, any social media strategist you come across, in your mind, is none other than someone out “scamming” people because they can’t get a real job of their own after being laid off.

    Instead of listening to these “Experts” you have committed to go through the grueling task of trying to learn this stuff on your own, because you really don’t know who you can trust to effectively teach you how to use it for your business.

    Or maybe the latter is true for your situation…

    You decided you wanted to bring on a social media strategist to help you with your company, after getting a referral from someone you trust.

    The experience working with the person has been amazing, and you now recommend them to all of your business colleagues because they really made a positive impact to your bottom line, traffic and exposure using these tools.

    The social media strategist is happy, you are happy and your customers are happy which I love to call a WIN/WIN/WIN.

    The personal branding lesson

    The LessonNo matter what field or niche you are in, calling yourself an “Expert” before you actually are an expert that can point to quantifiable bottom line results does more harm than good to you and your personal brand.

    Note: Most people aren’t referred to as experts until enough other people refer to them as an expert for their particular craft. Referring to yourself as an expert without any “loyal fans” to back up your claim is a RECIPE FOR DISASTER.

    As Dan has talked about before in the past, your brand is now searchable through Google, and all it takes is one negative blog post about an experience someone had with you that could ruin your brand and your business for a very long time.

    Keep in mind…

    You only have one reputation to protect, and once you lose that credibility with someone, the chances of getting it back are slim to none.

    No amount of press releases, PR campaigns, or blog posts can ever re-establish your credibility after making the crucial mistake of calling yourself an “expert” before you are one.

    As you continually move forward in your life, be sure you are 100% confident you can always back up every single solitary claim you make because if you can’t, the damage done to your personal brand can be permanent and hurt you and your future career long term.


    Scott Bradley is an entrepreneur and marketer who works with other entrepreneurs helping them to increase sales without increasing their marketing budget.

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    Posted in guest post, Personal Branding, Reputation Management, Social Media
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    22 comments on “Could Your Social Media “Expert” be a Fake?
    1. avatar
      Megan McQ says:

      I think that the word “expert” implies knowing “everything” about a particular subject. I happen to think that in the world of social media, it would be impossible to be an “expert” because the field advances so rapidly.
      I also think that to truly be an “expert” it requires the humility to understand the notion that one will not be able to obtain everything there is to know about a particular subject. Thus, this “expert” will always stand at the ready to listen to new information and insights from others–trying to obtain a greater understanding of the field–and knowing they will never find “expert” status.

    2. avatar

      I was just going to say one word ” Excellent ”
      But I will add if your over 25 and need some “coach” your a loser >LOL
      sorry but I had to say it.
      The best work is when you can look at what you have learned and built
      yourself 🙂

    3. avatar

      @Megan I agree with you 100%. That is why I refer to myself as a strategist. I think something to add to your point is that the word “expert” puts up an invisible wall between you and the other expert. This wall is psychological and I think makes relationships weird. I feel the word strategist feels more “buddy” like, and helps you communicate to the other person that you are constantly learning and adapting to new things happening in the space to ensure that you are the most effective.

      @John I have learned throughout my life that age is a state of mind and that the (numbers) we put to our age are not the true measure of how mature/immature we all are. We all grow and mature at our own pace and some people are more ahead than others. Even if you are “ahead” of everyone else in your own mind…keep in mind that Tiger Woods and many successful people still have coaches and mentors guiding them down their respective paths. What are your thoughts?

    4. avatar

      I really think this problem will not be solved until there are mainstream, officially recognized qualifications in this field. It’s new, and cowboys are around, but also smart people who are trying to learn by actually doing. It’s a hard route for them, and they either have the option of getting a job at a social media agency in order to learn, or just going out there and doing it (although this is not a justification for taking on a job you can’t really do).

      As people have discussed before, “social media expert” is a term like “webmaster” was. Easy to bounce around. And eventually, the market has separated into one man self-taught shops that do small projects, right through to companies that design complex web site solutons.

      In time, it will be easier to differentiate on the spectrum between “social media experts” who are simply those supplying services to small companies and individuals, and those at the other end who have a strategic role within large organisations.

      In all, I think the small time guys should therefore not be dismissed as “fakes”, but simply have their positions, capabilities and responsibilities understood. Like many the self-taught small-time webmasters, they are the ones who will help small companies with limited budgets grow and prosper.

    5. avatar

      Great post. I think businesses are being totally inundated with offers from “social media experts,” and company leaders don’t always know how to evaluate the candidates. I blogged recently about what I would be looking for if I were hiring someone to handle SM strategy for my own company: http://www.ackermannpr.com/blog/?p=278

      Basically, I’d want to see a professional history within the medium, quantifiable success in building and sustaining an audience, and personal passion evident through meaningful community participation.

    6. avatar

      At this rate I think it’s important to remember what’s gone on before in technology – the fads, the quest for eyeballs, etc. Technology is very fad-driven, the American economy has gotten addicted to bubbles, etc. People are always looking for the next big thing, even if it’s not overly big, nor overly stable. Social Media, for all its wonder, is that big thing.

    7. avatar
      Gerald Weber says:


      I think the ridiculousness of the “social media expert” thing has reached new heights since the popularity of Twitter. I really laugh when I get a message on Twitter from one of these self proclaimed experts and as you have said most often times they have been on Twitter for a few months at most and have less than 1000 followers. It really is laughable.

    8. avatar
      Tim Moore says:

      Great article, right on the money as usual Dan.

    9. avatar
      Ari Herzog says:

      I agreed with you all the way–until I saw your byline. You help authors, experts and businesses become a staple in their niche…

      Say what? You preach that an expert is a misnomer yet you define your strategy as helping them? I’m confused.

    10. avatar

      @Ari I was not preaching that being an expert is a misnomer.

      My point of the article was that there are way too many of these social media “experts” claiming to be experts when they really aren’t. (More and more hit the scene every day as the unemployment numbers begin to rise) These individuals think they are experts because they point to the amount of facebook friends and twitter followers to validate their “expert status” in the space…when in fact those statistics alone mean nothing in the big picture of social media from a bottom line results standpoint.

      And just to let you know, before I ever decide to work with people, I make sure that they have the credibility and clout to be called an expert. If they don’t I kindly say, I don’t think this is going to be a fit.

      I hope this answers your question, if not please let me know.

    11. avatar

      @Ari Also, if you would like to learn more about my ability to help people use this technology just ask Dan Schawbel. He will be happy to share with you what I have been able to help him do. Ask him about what I set up for him that helped him increase his sponsorship revenue significantly for his Personal Branding Magazine.

    12. avatar


      I have a social media blog called “Social Media Rockstar.” I chose it because I needed the words “social media” in the URL and because I originally wanted to interview and feature social media professionals. Do you think it hurts my credibility?

    13. avatar

      @Brett You have positioned yourself beautifully.

      Here’s why…

      Your blog and reason for having the blog reminds me how Napoleon Hill positioned himself when he wrote Think and Grow Rich.

      He interviewed the most successful people in their respective fields and then created a book for people to lear what he discovered interviewing each individual successful person.

      He became the expert by default and as we all have seen, his book has stood the test of time.

      One suggestion I would recommend that you do is to put the phrase, “Bringing You Bneficial Social Media Content and Interviews With Professionals in The Web 2.0 World” (Or something to that effect in your header) so when new visitors land on your site it communicates that fully, and it takes less than 10 seconds for the person to understand what your positioning is and why you are a credible source of information for.

      As you begin to build trust with those who read your blog and participate in your content the trust that you will build with your audience is something that is truly priceless…because your audience will reach out to you when they are ready to work with you…and after reading and doing a little research on your I can tell you already know what you are doing and how to effectively leverage this stuff.

      As the conduit and professional you are in the social media space, you must ensure that the content you share on your blog and the people you interview are 100% legit and professional, because if you make the mistake of not staying true to that brand promise, it could turn into a personal branding nightmare.

      I hope that answered your question. If not please let me know.

    14. avatar
      yinka olaito says:

      Scott, your piece is spot on. It should keep everyone on their toes so they do not destroy the building they have invested their lives into. Caution should be taken to earn the title of an expert in socla media.

    15. avatar
      yinka olaito says:

      Thanks scoot, this is spot on. It should put everyone on his toes on what responsibilities one takes by assumming a role one has no good grip on. Thanks

    16. avatar

      @Yinka Thank you. I appreciate it!

    17. avatar
      Bob Burg says:

      Excellent article, Scott. Two quick points; Regarding Ari’s comment, personally, I thought your byline was perfect; it was humble while positioning you very strongly as the authority in your field you clearly are. Secondly. I was very impressed with your kind and tactful responses toeveryone. Dan, you as well. I should have been so wise when I was your ages. 🙂

    18. avatar

      @Bob I really appreciate the compliment.

      Your book the Go-Giver was one of my favorites. After reading it, I called everyone and their brother and told them to go out and buy it because it moved me so strongly…there was no way I was NOT going to pay it forward!

    19. avatar
      Kristin says:

      Fantastic article Scott!!

      I am currently developing new media strategies for the insurance company I work for, have been asked to speak about the benefits of social media and even wrote a white paper about it.

      I am very careful NOT to refer to myself as an expert for the simple reason that this technology is so new, I don’t believe there can be an “expert”. And there are so many niche markets and cultures within each social network that one proven strategy may not work in all networks.

      I do, however, believe there can be trailblazers and mavens who remain at the forefront of breaking strategies in these new interfaces. These people will easy to spot – they will be recommended by others; their tweets and status updates will be relevant and often; links to their sites, articles, and their interviews will threaded across web searches.

    11 Pings/Trackbacks for "Could Your Social Media “Expert” be a Fake?"
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    3. […] As I look at people’s bios (self-descriptions) on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media sites, I see way too many calling themselves social media gurus, experts, and social media strategists. The self-proclaimed gurus have appeared from everywhere, but how do you tell an expert from a non-expert? How do you know that your guru is not a fake? […]

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