The worn out and trite epitome of simple marketing suggests that “People buy from People”, although a quick google for this phrase suggests it may not have a single author to its credit.

Rarely has anyone ever said to me “Google tells me this is an excellent product”, instead recommendations come in the form of ‘I’s and ‘they’s, and often the qualification of a single show or celebrity to add to its endorsement.

So it came to pass that search engine marketing, a now bloated and waddling exercise in flagellation by phrases has peaked and the overflow of eager and frankly ill-informed consultants seek a new revenue stream and opportunity.

Enter the Social Media Guru, the Social Media Manager and the Social Media Expert. Consultants and salespersons whose core skill sets is to hear the jingle jangle of the bandwagon passing and leap unabashed onto the jockey box to proclaim their skills and expertise in guidance and direction.

They have a distinctive characteristic and it is one you would do well to look closely for lest P.T.Barnum be proved right yet again. The characteristics to be wary of are often at an inverse to your expectations; Let’s look at a few classic examples.


On Twitter, they appear with profiles exclaiming ‘Social Media Expert or Guru’ and when you look closely you see that despite Twitter’s lifespan they have only been using Twitter for the last few months. Quite possibly they have a large number of people they follow and few following back. Although their conversations tend to be self-promotional they find a network of similar thinking “professionals” with whom they self promote and congratulate. Often they link to their own blogs ( see bloggers ) where they repeat many trite and obvious idioms all the while encouraging you to call their number and get their advice.


Indeed as with twitter so with they have just arrived ( how long has Facebook been going ? ) and they have friends ( who suspiciously also attended the same ‘how to be a social media schill’ course ) who also post and ‘like’ and share the same articles and tripe that they keep churning in the hope they gain credibility.


Similar to their twitter histories these experts have blogs which go back only months. quite possibly with incomplete “about me” pages or just as possible with incomplete blogs created as tacked on afterthoughts to their own website, which no doubt has a 20 second Flash Splash page intro, possibly with kittens. Rarely do you see any examples of ‘media’ usage beyond the desire to overpopulate their sidebars with plugin after plugin after plugin.

And that’s about it.

You are unlikely to see these ‘Social Media’ experts with Posterous accounts running alongside their projects or Flickr and Instagram accounts highlighting conferences, tweetups and events they have experienced. You won’t see them curating and collating content on Youtube or Vimeo and as for podcasts or Audioboos? Suffice to say you might start seeing them from today since they have seen this post but until then it simply has not occurred to them to use and promote these tools for themselves or their clients.

Put simply these “bandwagon jumpers”  these gurus, experts and ‘professionals’ are not going to help your business or your projects. They do not know how to take risks. They do not know how to go out and explore the internet and live on the frontiers of change and live as the outriders of opportunity. They are sharks and buzzards feeding only where the shoals and masses congregate and picking at the flesh of business the chunks they can get away with.

Do not rely on them to take you places where your customers maybe or for them to climb the mountains of competition to view ahead into new pastures for your business.

For more on the humanity of good social media take a listen to the first half of ‘Social Media White Noise’ Episode #62 Cloud Trouble where Nik Butler rants about the tendency of these experts to use tools over experience to appear professional.

About the author

Nik Butler (@Loudmouthman) was on twitter in 2006 and has been blogging since 2004. He makes no claims to being an expert, guru or professional but likes to be known as ‘A Digital Roadie’. He has tremendous expertise in getting things done and has the client testimonial page to prove it.

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0 thoughts on “To err is human; to follow divine – guest post by @Loudmouthman”

  1. Looks like the blind leading the blind doesn’t it. Good Article, realistic. Bandwagons and Gravy Trains abound these days.

  2. After some self-reflection and needless to say amendments to my various social media profiles I can somewhat safely say you are right! ‘They’ are like that. (though I never claimed to be an expert)Becoming a social media expert is unlike becoming an SEO expert in one essential respect: becoming a SM expert is definitively NOT a solitary project or learning process. In fact the learning process is fundamentally similar to the way one learns to be social offline. From this viewpoint the notion of ‘social media guru’ sounds something like a puppetmaster playing with real people which is anything but effective in social media. I would post this with my FB account which is truly active because useful in my non-professional i.e. SOCIAL life but I need to breath social into my tweets. However I do believe you’ve left the technocratic or HR question unanswered. What are these people to call themselves? I like digital roadie but unless you’re proposing a cluetrain-style overhaul for organizations I don’t think there’s much room for change. (You’re probably not even interested in this question 🙂 )

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