Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Certified Social Media Consultant! Huh??

I get really confused with this TITLE at times.  This post is more to warn people not to get sucked in by claims that they are an “expert” or a “guru” of social media.  I was reading a post from Aliza Sherman (@alizasherman) this morning.  I really appreciated her four points of advice to anyone considering hiring outside help with their social media initiatives.  Here they are:

  1. "Question the source. While the Internet and new media industries have been around now for over a decade, social media as its own industry is young. If someone is touting social media certification, question where they received it and what they had to do to earn it.
  2. Google them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been approached by potential clients who have been ripped off by people claiming to be social media consultants. A quick Google search of those consultants and companies reveal little in the way of evidence that the consultant/company in question is engaged in social media. A good social media consultant will be active in social media including LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook but also other more niche networks.
  3. Read them. At this early stage of social media consulting, those who are doing it are also writing about it because there is so little credible documentation of what we are all doing and learning. Read their blog, white papers or articles, and check out the recent books by some of the top social media thought leaders of today for greater perspective.
  4. Check their references. Why someone would hire a social media consultant without checking their online portfolio and references is a mystery to me. A few phone calls and emails, and you’ll have a much better sense about the reputation, professionalism and skills of anyone claiming to be a social media consultant."

I posted my own comment on her blog this morning out of appreciation for her post.  I have my own thoughts to add as well.  There is education then there is application.  Does that make sense to you?  Think of three items you learned in school that you thought you would never use.  Now think of where you actually use them now.  Do you see the difference?  There is really plenty of free education out there to get you going.  Google any social media topic and a wealth of resources will appear for you.  Setting up Google alerts is a way to have information sent to you.  There are numerous chats on twitter to participate in or just observe to get education.  Some of my favorites are the following:

#aptchat on Friday’s 4pm EST – Hosted by Lisa Trosien (@lisatrosien) and Mike Whaling (@30lines)
The focus is on any multifamily topic.  Items such as Fair housing, resident retention, marketing, apartment training etc are discussed.

#blogchat on Sunday’s 9pm EST- Hosted by Mack Collier (@mackcollier)
The subject changes each week, but essentially the main topic is the same which is how to blog and learning best practices from others.

There are others such as #journchat on Tuesday night 8pm EST and #socialmedia on Tuesday’s 12pm EST hosted by Marc Myer (@Marc_Myer)

The list can go on regarding education that is out there to help you in social media.  The application is a different story.  This is where I have a hard time with individuals who declare themselves “certified” or a “guru”.  Some of have even gone as far as calling themselves “The King”.  Then you do a little digging and you find out the truth.  Please be very careful.  Social Media and its impact on the way we do business are all still very new.  The application is still being defined.  Every business model is different so it makes no sense to take a one-size- fits-all approach. 

Work hard to educate yourself.  Ask questions.  Observe how others implement and use social media as part of their every day strategy.  Don’t be selfish either.  Always remember the first word in the expression “Social Media”.  Sharing and expressing our thoughts will only help us improve as we all share this path and learn together.  What has helped you in learning social media?  What resources did you find best?  Do you think that anyone can really call themselves an expert?  I have been educated and instructed by many great professionals who do have real experience in Social Media.  Just ask me who they are and what help you need, and I will tell you for free.

Written by Jonathan Saar – The Training Factor

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