Would the Real Experts Please Stand Up? (No, You Sit Down)

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Part Four in ‘I Smell a Rat’ Series
Michael defines an expert. And he’s one. Really, he is. And he’ll prove it.

I smell a rat

Part One: Michael introduces why he’s writing this series and hopes everyone will stick through it as he explores that smell…
Part Two: Michael introduces what he called “agency magicians” and how they create the “illusion of dimensions”
Part Three: Michael tells CMOs and VPs of Marketing that their luck has run out. Time to really integrate digital into marketing.
Part Four: Michael defines an expert and suggests that social media is not the savior of all marketing.
Part Five: Michael dances the tango — but not always for free — with the job lottery
Part Six: Michael explores how time-shifting will change traditional TV commercials and programming.
Part Seven: Michael explains Anti-Product Placement© and hopes someone hires him for this most-excellent idea.
Part Eight: Michael suggests you buy a talk show rather than commercials, infomercials or direct response TV.
Part Nine: Michael asks for addiction intervention for magazine publishers.
Part Ten: Michael officially becomes an expert, earn the Social Media Advanced Certification[/box]




[dropcap]T[/dropcap]rust me when I say I am an expert at digital media. But really, how do you trust your doctor? Your mechanic? Your accountant? What gives anyone really the ability to be an expert anymore. Heck, I might as well create a shirt that says, “I’m an expert because I know how to use Google.”

(That doesn’t apply to me.)

I know a few universities now offer classes and certifications in social media or digital marketing. But the truth is we’re still in the wild, wild west of this whole digital thing and anyone out there claiming to be the Jesse James or Sheriff of these here parts best be meetin’ me at high noon in the OK corral.

All joking aside, no one knows who’s actually an expert and who’s not. I highly respect some people, read them, think they are geniuses. In fact, some might be highly paid geniuses. Consider Mark Zuckerberg, the genius (evil or business as a modifier, depending who you believe) who created Facebook.

Would you consider him a social media expert? Nope. I’m sorry. He gets to make social media. He’s the Creator. He’s the Almighty. He is a deity. Sorry folks. Not an expert.

We can go along and list people if we’d like. Demigods among them, the names we would list. Is there an expert among them? Is there a prophet? A bible? Something from which we can be a disciple?

I’m slamming everyone over the head with the religious overtones for a reason and the point to make. Many people can claim a religion without a test, without a reason and no one doubts it.

So goes social media.

Moreover, social media isn’t a cult. It isn’t something to be worshiped, the end all and be all of marketing. It will not save the way. Mark Zuckerberg is neither the messiah nor son of Lucifer.

Social media is a tool in the toolbox.

A Messiah Complex

A kind of messiah complex developed among many digital marketers and a few agencies, thinking that social media might light the way for everything to come. I find this a bit reprehensible. So from this comes false prophets and that wild west mentality.

Consider Jonathan Salem Baskin‘s Ad Age article yet again, “Do Campaign Failures, High-Profile Firings Signal the End of Social Media?” The high-profile failure of Burger King’s Facebook/YouTube campaign only proves how some prophesied success for digital way too early without the traditional substance behind it.

As the person who’s driven social media before, I’ve found it so interesting to work with others who’ve asked access to the voice of social media. These traditional marketers sit mesmerized after reading the miracles of Facebook and how it can drive sales in some article somewhere. As I probe for reasons why, behind all the sizzle, there’s no steak. There’s no call to action. There’s no meaning. There’s no engagement. The intention isn’t to start a dialog with the consumer.

In the end, the traditional marketer thinks of social media like they think of a commercial or a print ad: A one-way, chest-thumping saying the brand is the greatest.

As I explain the need for a dialog with a consumer, how social media engages and creates an opportunity, the traditional marketer doesn’t see the value. For years, they’ve been yelling at consumers, not talking with consumers so this subtlety gets lost.

Signs of the True Prophets

So on this search for a so-called expert, we search and come across articles like that from agency mRELEVANCE on How to Evaluate Your Social Media Consultant.

As in the wild west, the attempt to bring law to the land didn’t exactly work. Such is mRELEVANCE’s suggestions on evaluating. Number one was having a blog. I do. Truth is I’ve had a blog in one form or another since 2002 and my own website well prior to that. The content sometimes wasn’t about work or it had a different focus. Right now, for some reason, I want people to read these entries but they seem to be enjoying older entries about being caught with a gigantic bottle of Pepto Bismol as I attempted to go through airport security (seriously?).

But up until recently, my blog remained rather inactive. I wrote little here on purpose. My time seemed better spent on writing content for work and other projects that didn’t go online.

On to mRELEVANCE’s second point: When you Google their name, what do you see? For me, you will see me. But I am not the only Michael Cheek and I am not the only web savvy Michael Cheek. A professional inline skater, an artist in North Carolina, a vodka executive, an ObGyn… I can keep going. Can you fault me because I am not alone with my name?

mRELEVANCE recommends checking to see if the consultant is on social media, actually listing several. Of course, checking to see if I am on Facebook and Twitter is fine, but I do not have thousands of followers. My friends on Facebook are just that — friends (and family). I tweeted a little, but not a lot. I segmented life, making LinkedIn for professional, Facebook for friends/family and Twitter for strangers. But now it seems I am to be judged for those choices and asked if I should have had years worth of content elsewhere.

Strategy is the next suggestion from mRELEVANCE and the suggestion that one size doesn’t fit all. Agreed. I also know that social media is a world where strategy and tactics (how you employ that strategy) doesn’t always work as expected. Being able to work quickly and on your toes is vital. I know too many organizations that build a calendar and stick to that calendar hell or high water. That is a mistake. A strategy then an outline of tactics. Additionally, I believe in a character study of the voice for your personality with a market target within those plans. Make adjustments and continually adapt. Social media must be a two-way engagement.

mRELEVANCE’s other items include training, something called “social media optimization” and reporting. Education is always important, but it seems that discussion should have come first, not near the end.

As for this newly emerging acronym of SMO, I’ll probably be forced to use it soon. It’s a lot of dɐɹɔ at the moment, but a standard might emerge. I expect a key performance indicator of some sort will emerge as well to give us reporting capabilities as well.

For Now, We’re All Gunslingers, Medicine Men & Can-Can Girls

Believe who you want to believe. I’ve spoke in front of thousands and I’ve tutored one-on-one.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines expert as, “having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience.”

The word for me is experience.

While I did not spend a lot of effort boosting “Michael Cheek” in SMO, SEO, Twitter or anywhere else, I did Mohawk and I’m doing it for other clients. I’ve advised companies how to best get attention online without getting black-listed.

For me, it was never about my success.

I used to go around all over the country and speak to Mohawk sales representatives, all of whom were on commission. As I spoke about the advantages the digital marketing programs that I created brought, I’d often show a slide with only these letters: “WIIFM.”

It stands for “what’s in it for me?”

Truth is that every single thing didn’t appear on the surface to make a difference in the commission of each sales representative’s check. But I wanted to explain to them how it could. How my work meant selling more Mohawk product in a store which meant more commission for them.

When you look at any so-called expert, ask yourself, “What’s in it for me?”

If you’re getting someone who’s going to make sure their self-interest is served best, that you get a name of someone with a terrific blog, an active Twitter with a few dozen other social media accounts, go ahead.

If you’re interested in hiring someone who can merge into a team, lead when needed, contribute and will make the company brand first — not their personal brand — then you’ve got the beginnings of an expert.

And since I’ve done it, call me.

I’ve been doing a lot of writing but there’s some things I haven’t typed yet.

PART FIVE Tomorrow: The Job Lottery
Also read my marketing agency profiles on GunslingersMedicine MenCan-Can Girls


Published by

Michael Cheek

With more than 20 years of communication experience, Michael Cheek offers solid marketing expertise, especially in the digital frontier. He currently resides in Georgia but he's open to relocate anywhere the opportunities take him. Learn more at http://MichaelCheek.com. You can follow him on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/MichaelCheek and see more about his professional experience at http://LinkedIn.com/in/MichaelCheek. Reach him via e-mail at mcheek@gmail.com.

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