Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rogue Traders

A quick search for social media consultant (or something similar) will bring back page after page of self proclaimed digital media experts on Twitter, Facebook and blogging platforms. Since the beginning of the year, I have noticed that there has been a surge of people describing themselves as experts or gurus in this space. This is no surprise given the proliferation of social media as a legitimate communication channel for brands.

There are numerous online guides and presentations detailing how to ‘brand yourself on Facebook’ or ‘Get real RoI from Twitter’. Most of which are very slick and would have me reaching for my wallet!

What concerns me is that a handful of these ‘experts’ have more resemblance to the dodgy plumber who will do the job at half the price than a seasoned professional. Yes, they have a Facebook profile. Yes, they have a Twitter account. Yes, they have a blog. Yes, they may even dabble on a few discussion forums from time to time. But is this all that is required to counsel brands on building their online brand reputation or manage an online crisis situation?

Some of these rogue traders are selling digital PR campaigns to clients via a slick presentation that demonstrates their agency is on the pulse with the latest platform or application, but when it comes to the execution of the work, they don’t know where to start. This ultimately leads to clients and industries becoming even more skeptical about digital PR and whether it is really worth investing in.

I regularly talk to real social media / peer media / digital communication experts and they very rarely call themselves experts. Yet, they have worked with household brands, executed creative and effective campaigns and learnt their trade. They have gotten their feet wet by actually executing campaigns and, sometimes, learning from their mistakes. More action less talk!

The industry (and clients) needs to be aware of these rogue traders. They are giving the real professionals a bad name. They are slowing down the adoption of a legitimate communication channel. They are holding back the potential of digital communications!

Rant over!