7 Tips on Picking a Social Media “Guru”

Posted on6 CommentsCategoriesGeneral Discussion, Online Marketing

As I look at people’s bios (self-descriptions) on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media sites, I see way too many calling themselves social media gurus, experts, and social media strategists. The self-proclaimed gurus have appeared from everywhere, but how do you tell an expert from a non-expert? How do you know that your guru is not a fake?

Here are my tips:

  1. Make sure they don’t call themselves a guru or an expert in their publicly viewable profiles (real experts don’t).
  2. Check if they really have the influence (it is easy to judge by the numbers of followers they have, number of times they are quoted or re-tweeted, etc).
  3. Do they sound passionate about social media? Ask them why.
  4. Ask them how they track ROI.
  5. Do they have any experience and/or can quote any success stories of companies in your vertical being successfully promoted through social media?
  6. Do they have a plan on how they will promote your business through social media? Ask them for at least an outline.
  7. How do you feel about entrusting your brand to this person?

If any 7 of the above 7 (no, this is not a typo) have satisfied you, they are probably a good fit for you.

6 thoughts on “7 Tips on Picking a Social Media “Guru”

  1. Great post!

    A few points that may prove beneficial to those seeking expert guidance.

    Experts do call themselves experts. Pick up a book at Chapters written by any respectable expert in any field, and you will see evidence of this.

    Number of followers means nothing. Zip. Zilch. Listeners, on the other hand, is a metric that matters. Listeners are fact, followers are fiction. Your statement may be the equivalent of saying that a large mailing list implies expertise. A statement that is more than a little surprising coming from a seasoned affiliate marketer. List size has little to do with list response or effectiveness.

    Not all SM experts translate their expertise into business terms, specifically ROI, though as one of the top 5 in Canada, I am a huge advocate of tracking and applied metrics, though not all of my esteemed peers are.

    To table a plan to promote one’s business, a real expert will take a deep look into the workings and mechanics of the business before jumping to a “K-Tel” type canned process.

    Canned processes are a sure sign of a rookie emulating a model he has seen elsewhere, though this isn’t to say that a system, once fitted to the client, should not be archived for application against similar business models later.

    I do agree on passion, and this is something that applies to experts everywhere. They become experts because they are driven by something, and passion is often the key motivator.

    Few businesses manage or even monitor brand in the social community, so almost any effort by even a half-witted SM professional is at least a step in the right direction.

    It is important when dispensing advise that all sides are visited, and that those dispensing it are duly validated. This holds true in my business, as it does in yours.

    Your points should be given the consideration they deserve.

    Well done!


    Ron Davies

  2. Ron,

    There’s a lot of value in what you’re saying, and I appreciate you chiming in.

    On the experts calling themselves experts: I specifically talked about the “bio” space on social medias (not books; even though even on my books I don’t call myself an expert, as I believe it’s a judgment that only others should make).

    On the followers: listeners were exactly what I meant, and I fully agree with you that “followers are fiction”. Now, how do you measure listeners? There’s Twitalyzer and other tools for Twitter. What about other social media? If it’s a metric, there’s gotta be ways to measure it.

    On measuring ROI: the fact that “not all SM experts translate their expertise into business terms” frequently does a disservice to marketing via social media. Would you mind sharing a few tips on how to measure ROI, say, on Twitter?

    On “canned processes”: I agree.

    Once again, excellent comments, and I appreciate you taking the time to post them, Ron

  3. so true as a goof I changed my status on Twitter to say ” I *was* a social media guru”…

    the public secret is that no one is a guru because the medium is morphing..to me the people that I respect understand the underlying infrastructure issues that power things like Twitter and APIs. In the end it’s not about being in social media it’s about using it to do something actionable – from marketing to philanthropy..

    That being said I’ve been critical of all the newbies saying they are gurus, but this is a viable new category although embryonic it is real. These new “social media stewards” have to start somewhere.

    I like the folks who say “I don’t know all the answers but we are learning more everyday..” – those are the true gurus

  4. Hi Geno,

    I feel as a professional that it makes sense to build a bio that will be found when people search. If someone is searching for a social media professional, a Twitter expert, or what have you, these terms, or parts of them, must occur in the bio to be found in such a search.

    As such, I would have to say that an expert that chooses to not be found is not much of a social media expert at all, as he or she is clearly not harnessing the power of the search if they fail to stack the keywords in their favor. To be honest, this is fine by me, as it simply means I get found and they do not in the search.

    A pilot or lawyer would most certainly indicate that they are professional pilots and lawyers in their bios, and so should we. other people do not validate us as experts. Our knowledge and expertise, when put into practice does.

    If others were to validate our expertise, this would support the argument that the expert with the most testimonials is the best expert, and this is more often than not the opposite. usually the one with the most testimonials is the marketer that has bartered or bought the most testimonials.

    As for ROI, there are a number of ways to track this in any SM. My favorite is by offering some sort of material in exchange for a call to action. If they take the action, they are listeners, and not just followers.

    Strong listener lists in SM translate into $6 to $8/listener/month as opposed to unqualified lists that translate into about $2/list member/month.

    The action need not be subscribing; it could be just a poll they participate in, or a coupon they use, etc.

    Cheers, and again, great post!

    Ron Davies
    @rondavies on Twitter

  5. Interesting, though someone vocalizing “we are learning every day” might be a little redundant. It would be impossible not to frankly.

    I have never been fond of the term “guru” really, but in the marketing context, it is used all over the place.

    In the end, one must do their due diligence, and find out which expert, declared or otherwise, has created a need for him or herself. If they are in demand at speaking events, by their clients, etc., chances are their advice has proven actionable and effective.

    On that note, I am booked for the summer for speaking events, and have no room in either individual or group coaching left 😉

    http://TwoOnOneBusinessCoaching.com will validate this point.

    Cheers folks, great dialogues here. This is really what sm is about 🙂

    Ron Davies
    @rondavies on twitter

  6. As someone considering the need for a social media specialist (guru sounds too high falutin’ to me), what am I looking for? Strategy? Execution? Neither? Are social media specialists like chiropatics, where you meet up with one once and they want to part of your business forever, or do you have them come in like a SWAT team to establish guidelines, push things off, then disappear?

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