January 18, 2011


howling dog and unimpressed catThe dog's howling about his social media prowess but the cat can't gauge his skills.

I often talk to groups and individuals about marketing and they're most interested in what's now called social media.

The few who are ready to act ask how to proceed. They're busy. Can't they hire someone to do the work for them? Since social media is about being authentic, that's not a great strategy. Getting help is fine but, it's very tough to find real experts.


Here's how to reduce the risks of hiring a fake
  1. check online
  2. be realistic
  3. figure out where you need help

Check Online

You'll find many posers. See how they're using social media. Checking online only takes a few minutes. Look for real-life proof of relevant success.

I got invited to a seminar by an "expert" who just started using Twitter several months ago and has less Followers than I do. Yes there's a nice website but that doesn't equate to real-world experience.

Be Realistic

If selling were as easy as buying hot leads or joining a referral group, life would be easy. And commissions would drop because others could copy.

Success with social media takes more than your credit card and hoping for the improbable.

How Many vs Who

You'll be offered ways to zip to page one on Google. That might work … temporarily. What's easy for you is easy for others too. Google prowls for tricks and punishes offenders.

There's an easy way to get thousands of Followers on Twitter: Follow thousands. They'll often reciprocate (Universal Principle of Influence #1). I didn't play that game since who matters more than how many. My Followers on @mActuary and @riscario are limited but include people at the Globe & Mail, National Post, Toronto Star, Advisor.ca and Advocis.

Rather than focusing on ways to get mega-traffic, write good content and participate online to help your target market find you. This works but takes work, lacks glitz and is difficult to outsource. It's also difficult for competitors to copy.

Figure Out Where You Need Help

You'll probably want help get your branding to look professional. You don't want an email address that makes you look cheap and generic. You don't want a website that looks dated (and yes you still need one). As a shortcut, your blog could be your website.

Maybe you need help following a schedule or creating content or editing. Your needs will vary and change. If you don't begin with the end in mind, count on spending more than you need.

Start Here

If you're not sure where to begin, read a book. Here are two suggestions (non-affiliated links to Amazon.com):
  1. Trust Agents: Using the web to build influence, improve reputation and earn trust by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith
  2. Six Pixels Of Separation: Everyone is connected. Connect your business to everyone by Mitch Joel
That alone will put you ahead of many "experts". They also blog.

If you don't believe in consistent persistent generosity, social media may not be be you. Visitor attention is scarce. Without valuable free content, why would they ever return?

We're part of the Good Enuf Rvltun. Social media lets you ship quickly and make changes as you gain experience and find your own unique voice. Do you even need to hire an expert?


PS As with other marketing, there's no "right" way to use social media. Experiment!

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