The high level of interest in using social media for business means there’s also a high level of demand for expert social media speakers. Local Chambers of Commerce, professional associations and trade groups are all looking for folks to come in and explain the basics to their members. These groups are too small to afford to fly in an Andy Sernovitz, Scott Stratten or Jessica Miller-Merrill to tell them what’s up, so they turn to their own communities. And what they often find is nonsense.

Here are three tipoffs that the social media “expert” you’re considering bringing in as a speaker is a fake.

  • She doesn’t actually, you know, use social media. Here’s the Facebook post by Scott that inspired me to write this: “Noticed a real estate social media ‘expert’ is speaking at an event in Toronto coming up. She’s tweeted 6 times in 4 months, never replied, Facebook group has little members and no likes/comments and nobody reads her blog. And she tweets and types mostly in ALL CAPS. Should be a fascinating talk.” I wish I could say this wasn’t a common occurrance. Moral of the story: Check your “expert’s” own digital footprint. Consider this the social media equivalent of making sure your accountant really is a CPA.
  • He’s a lawyer. The old-school business groups love to bring in lawyers to speak about the dangers of social media. Since there aren’t that many lawyers who are actually experts in social media, chances are what you’ve got is a JD with a personal Facebook page. And what you’re going to get during the speech is a lot of irrelevant fear-mongering about how the Twittering is going to get you sued.
  • She’s never attended any of the major industry conferences. Real social media experts work hard to stay current in the field, and that generally includes attending a couple of the major events each year. South by Southwest, BlogWorld, that sort of thing. Ask your “expert” where she goes to mingle and learn from her peers.  If she doesn’t have an immediate answer, run.

What would you add to this list of signs that your social media speaker is a fake?


4 thoughts on “3 Signs Your Social Media Speaker is Full of $h*!

  1. I’d add “not having a smartphone” to the list.

    I’d also include some caveats about the lawyer bit, but I work at a law firm whose clients include Facebook and Twitter.

  2. Good one, Les!

    I know there are surely lawyers out there who get social media — they don’t even have to work at FB to meet my standard.

    But time and time again, I see lawyers trotted out as “experts” at meetings when they don’t even use social media themselves. This is especially common in HR settings, in the context of creating social media policies.

  3. I totally agree. I wouldn’t want to workout with a fat personal trainer. If you’re going to present about social media then you have to be practicing what you preach. Great article!

  4. Thanks for the comment. I do take issue with the comparison with a “fat personal trainer” — in fact someone who struggles with their weight but works very hard to be fit could be an excellent inspiration for people with similar struggles. I don’t, however, think that applies to social media skills, which don’t depend on accidents of physiology.

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