#SMTLive Schedule

99% of Social Media Experts are Clowns - Gary Vaynerchuk

(latest e-mail from our friend Bryan of SoCal Action Sports Network and LinkedOC who had an interesting interview with Gary Vaynerhuk)

Hi everyone,

Hope you're surviving trade show hell...

Gary Vaynerchuk, who actually is a real social media expert, recently weighed in on the state of social media during a now famous Tech Crunch interview when he said, "99% of social media experts are clowns." I caught up with the Gary in a rare interview and from what I've seen--especially in SoCal, I agree.

*There are 2 halves of this interview--both are well worth watching, but video #2 explains why most social media experts are frauds...

Beware of anyone who calls themselves a "social media expert" or some form thereof...


State of the industry...

If you haven't heard, there's this thing called the Internet that's really catching on. But there's a very interesting dichotomy with the current economy and the plethora of social platforms.

A lot of people have lost their jobs from the start of the downward spiral in the economy in 2008 to the present day. But as the economy reaches new lows, the social web continues to evolve and spiral upwards to new heights.

The result is that many of these out-of-work people have jumped on the social media bandwagon with little or zero marketing experience--not to mention a lack of social media management skills or any campaign track record. And yet they call themselves "social media experts" leading hopeful businesses that need new customers urgently astray.

These so-called experts are often transplants from mature industries hit hard by the economy like agency account execs, designers, product dev or lower level grunts from the larger retailers or apparel OEM's. They think that knowing what to do and how to set things up on social media platforms qualifies them to help businesses market their products or services. And they often make promises they can't keep to vulnerable clients desperate for new biz like a guarantee of  "thousands of new fans or followers."

I've personally met a lot of these folks and they are growing in numbers here in SoCal. They mean well and have good intentions and don't set off to misguide the companies who hire them. They themselves are eagerly trying to stay afloat in a bad economy and make ends meet. But as nice as many of these people are you should be very careful about whom you give the wheel to drive your business and be the voice of your brand.

This is a young, fast-moving space. Are there really any experts (yet), especially in SoCal?

We have a big (little) tech community that's good at making chips and other stuff and plenty of surfers and skaters, but we're not even on the map for social media innovation. Most people haven't even heard of Google+. The real hot spots are the Bay Area, NYC, Austin, Boston...

A few stats: Facebook: is on pace to reach 1 billion users by the end of this year. I also read last week that 50% of North America signs in to Facebook every day. Wow! But don't forget about the explosion of Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr, and the flavor of the week in social media.

Here's some advice from Gary about what to ask the next "expert" before you hire them.

1. What have you actually done?
Have your next social media person show you 5 or more marketing plans they've written. Ask them for case studies from 5 or more social media campaigns they have done over the past twelve months. Gary talks about "dirt under your fingernails" as a good thing...

2. What is your marketing background?
Find out about their level of experience in the area or project you're asking them to do. Sounds like common sense, but there are a lot of for PR interns and lower level agency peeps who claim they can change your world. On that note, there are also a lot of former pro action sports athletes in the VP of Marketing position at the big brands too who've never created a marketing plan...

3. Beware of the Over promise.
If the person you're considering promises big numbers fast, they are probably a fraud. You can buy more Facebook fans on Amazon, but what's that worth? Zero. Most of the real experts say social media is not a silver bullet. It's good for something things and not for others. For example, great for listening and engaging to make new business relationships.

4. Low Social Proof.
Does your experts say they can change your world but only have 90 Twitter followers who never @reply? Do they manage a Facebook page for a friend that has 10,000 fans but zero fan posts? Watch out.

5. Young Does Not Qualify You.
There seems to be a common misconception that just because someone is 20-something they are better suited to be a marketer--AND execute social media, than someone older. Age has nothing to do with it. It's about skills. It's about experience. It's about results.

6. Watch and Listen to Reactions to This Post.
It's bold to call out a large group of people and basically say they are frauds. But remember this: those who are guilty here will be the most defensive and offended--because the truth is hard to swallow! The truly talented marketers will applaud this post and take comfort in their own skills.

Weigh in and let me know what you think about all this. Do you have any success stories with any of these newly self-crowned experts? Any horror stories?

The best way to reach me fast is Twitter or email.


 Bryan Elliott
 Founder, SoCal Action Sports Network

Join The Conversation

  • Aug 16 Posted 5 years ago Paul Mederos (not verified)

    Experience is so important. I've interviewed countless of social media peeps who don't even have a Twitter account - seriously? Over the past year it's been easy to refine my search by asking for proof, plans, and success/failures. Interesting note - the further I delve into social media, the easier it is to spot those who really know what they're doing. For example, when I was first looking for someone to compliment my web development, I thought an expert would need well over 50,000 followers... Wow was I wrong. Quality quality quality of relationships.... Not the quantity... Anyhow, definitely have a lot more to learn :)

  • Aug 15 Posted 5 years ago Patrick Dodd (not verified)

    I couldn't agree more with Gary V.  I just picked up a client who has spent a significant amount of money with a Social Media snake oil salesman over the past quarter and the only thing he has to show for it are a few hundred FB fans.  Nothing was ever mentioned about goals and objectives and the metrics/tools used to track success. 

Webinars On Demand

  • May 09, 2017
    With all of the technologies available to marketers today, have we lost that personal touch? Join VP of Content Marketing for ON24, Mark Bornste...
  • April 05, 2017
    In the ever-changing world of digital marketing, operational efficiency, quick turn-around times, testing and adapting to change are crucial to...