Companies are on the hunt for social media savvy professionals. Whether it’s for Customer Service or Marketing, social media professionals are in demand. Last checked on, there were over 33,000 jobs posted in the US for positions related to social media.

As with any emerging profession there will be those who try to pawn themselves off as experts. With such important customer facing visibility you don’t want to fumble the hiring of this key role. So how do you spot a fake social media guru?


What Are the Tell-Tale Signs That Someone is a Social Media Quack?

Here are a few situations that will help uncover whether someone doesn’t quite fit the bill as a social media expert.

#1. When asked about how they would plan a social media strategy they jump right into tools & tactics

If the first things out of their mouth is recommending a Facebook Page or a company blog, run. That’s called fondling the hammer. Getting into social media is just like any marketing or communications related endeavor. You need to know who you’re communicating with and how to best engage them. Using the Forrester framework called the POST Method is by most accounts the industry best practice for planning your social media strategy. Technology is last on the list, not first.


#2. They only focus on the top social networks

Yes Twitter & Facebook are two of the most well known social networks on the planet. But social media isn’t just about those two social networks. For all you know your particular audience concentrates their participation on niche social networks.

There is just so much out there, like Yelp, YouTube, Flickr.

Nor is it just about social networks exclusively. Let’s not forget about blogs and forums. The list goes on and on and on.

The only way your social media guru will know what areas  to focus on would be to do some research  by asking your  customers which social networks and websites they frequent.

#3. Your goals aren’t taken into consideration when  you request a sample of a monthly or weekly report

Your goals are paramount to any social media endeavor. Request sample reports. And if the reports they send you are just measuring follower or fan growth and the number of responses people post on your wall, they’re missing the point.

You just don’t want to measure activity, you will need to measure results. Here are a few examples:

  • If your goal is to get your message out there, is your social media expert taking into consideration the amplification of your messages like retweets, responding blog posts, video responses or even comments on your own company website?
  • If your goal is to drive more visitors to your website, are they measuring referral traffic to your website from the social networks you are present in?
  • If your goal is to increase engagement, are they taking into consideration the number of RSS subscribers to your blog?

Tracking followers & fans is just so 2008. Tell them to get with the times.

#4. Their content strategy only consists of re-heated press releases

A content strategy is typically a big part of most social media initiatives. If you are starting a company blog or posting messages to a social network, some careful thought needs to go into what’s being published. Will this resonate with my audience? Is this going to be valuable for them?

Re-hashed press releases means there’s a broadcast mentality which is very old school and doesn’t really tap the whole purpose of being present in social media. If this is all your social media ninja has to offer, move on.

#5. They promise they can measure Social Media ROI

Right now even Fortune 500 companies are having problems measuring social media ROI. If your social media ninja has cracked that nut, what’s he doing consulting?

Yes, measuring social media ROI is a problem right now and there are some figures you should track. No, it shouldn’t stop you from measuring.

But if a guru promises you they can measure their social media initiatives right down to your last penny in sales, they don’t understand social media…or the Internet for that matter.


Finally, if you don’t have the time or expertise to filter through a candidate list for key social media positions bring in people who know the space. Hire a reputable online marketing agency to partner with your HR team to sift through the candidates. And remember you don’t need a Twitter Coach, a LinkedIn Guru or a Facebook Ninja, settle for a solid professional who will positively represent your company and brand.


Hey there, I'm Marc!

I'm the Director of Growth Channels @Hootsuite. I've worked in digital marketing since 2000 for agencies, startups and companies like Electronic Arts & SAP. Thanks for checking out my site where I share digital marketing strategies on how to increase website traffic and generate more revenue.


  1. Kazia Mullin says:

    Thank you for writing this! Great piece.

    Unfortunately too many businesses fall for the initial flash and pot-of-gold promises of the gurus and ninjas, and they find themselves screwed out of a few grand with nothing to show for it.

    But people are getting savvy. And the SM hustlers are getting easier and easier to spot.

  2. here here common sense too often ignored in favour of ra-ra Social media “experts” brandishing tactics as if they solved all your business problems in a day’s worth of Tweeting and Facebooking

  3. A lot of it boils down to common sense sometimes. But you’d be surprised how many businesses work with consultants because they had the lowest bid. Not exactly the criteria you want to use when hiring someone who will have the greatest impact on how customers perceive your company.

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