Quit your day jobIn my last post I spoke about who in an organization should take the reigns of the social media campaign. All the “consultants” (myself included) probably thought they were safe as they are able to do any and everything asked of them. Well truth is that the consultants are not safe.

Social media is a new beast for many companies and as such the need to hire outside help is strong. Not every company can find the right person with enough experience to tackle the set up of a social media campaign from scratch. What they need to look out for is the perception of the company when a third-party takes the reigns. I spoke about Sales/customer service being a huge part of your social media presence. Do you honestly want someone who does not know your products and has 3-5 other accounts to try to handle any complaints that come down the Social Media pipe? Would you not rather have fewer people handling a process? This is what happens when you outsource.

What was that? You say you cannot afford/justify another full-time worker on salary? What if you divided the responsibilities among those already in sales/marketing/pr. Better yet you could hire a part-timer (although Social Media is a 24/7 job) or another “Marketing Coordinator” to help the already stressed Marketing/PR department. Make social media the main requirement but give them other responsibilities to push them along the way.

Yes I understand that I just made myself and many of my friends irrelevant (although I am looking for a full-time gig *hint hint*) and I may take some flack for that but do not fret. No one reads this blog. Even if they did there are still ad agencies out there. This business model will not die with this one blog post. There will always be a need for true social media “consultants,” we just need to make ourselves indispensable. We also need to get rid of those who call themselves gurus, ninjas, rockstars or any other manner of title that does not mean anything. Just because you have a Twitter account and a laptop you are not an expert.

Do you think the consultants should go the way of the dinosaur? Do you want to rip me a new one for exposing the little secret we all know? Let me know in the comments!

Updated: Maybe we should see more “consultants” being hired for a month of two to get the social media up and running, along with the training of the key players. This way the company gets to see how it will be run and the “consultant” (I do like coach better) will not need to go away. This could be a better solution. Small businesses would not hire them full-time as it would not be needed. Would this be a better model than just going in and showing them how it is done?

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Comments
  1. iGoByDoc says:

    Matt,

    I read it… so there!

    I do not think consultants should go by way of the dinosaur… however, maybe you should look at it this way.

    Every business should have an accountant of some sort (consultant) possibly a lawyer (consultant) and by rights most businesses need a marketing consultant.

    The problem is there is no real decent way for a business to know who is the real deal, and who is the huckster because a business may believe what they read (insert business card here with social media guru as title).

    Add that to the fact that so many business owners are bombarded by people all day long wanting to sell them radio, TV, newspaper, magazine, and toilet stall ads that they do not have the time to talk to anyone about this thing called social media. Especially when all they hear from the outside world is how Social Media is like free advertising, so why should they pay?

    I personally think, in most cases, that a business should do their social media from inside the company. BUT, a business needs a consultant to #1 teach them how to do it, keep on top of the company and help out and give guidance when needed, and to help keep the company aware of all the newest and latest places to set up a presence online. If you want to call that continued consulting, or coaching go for it.

    I think, if you are doing all of the work for the company consultant should maybe not be the word used… maybe use outsourced assistant?

    There needs to be a shift in the way businesses think of the new marketing consultant, and to do so consultants need to rise above the hucksters and show real value and expertise.

    Anyway… just my 2 cents for what they are worth.

    Doc

    • Matt Hodson says:

      Haha thanks for reading the post Doc! You are definitely right. These hucksters that claim to know what is going on are the ones that really should go the way of the dinosaur. I also liked the coaching idea. I do believe that social media should come from inside the corporation but as I have been working with one client that understands the need but does not put what we talk about into practice, I understand the need for consultants. Sometimes I just want to take the reigns away and run with the social media but they need to learn.

      I believe Social Media Coach would be a better term than Consultant, Guru, Ninja, or whatever else they come up with to prove their worth. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Nick says:

    I’ve got to agree with Doc, you don’t hire a consultant as a replacement for a FT employee, you hire a consultant because they are the real deal and can do more for you than training an employee on your own. That’s no secret being exposed.

    There are way too many hucksters, snake-oil salesmen, etc. in the field. But that doesn’t degrade all consultants and agencies. That just means more care should be taken to hire the right ones.

    I’m not going to “rip you a new one” but you should watch your words carefully to maintain a professional profile. If you say “consultants should go the way of the dinosaur” aren’t you in fact admitting that you are irrelevant? Of course, I’m not passing judgement, but simply pointing out that each individual’s words should be used to evaluate them individually.

    We hire consultants, agencies, gurus, etc. to do a job with the precision and skill that they can bring to our organizations. If you were to just cut out using outside help, you put yourself at a severe disadvantage to your competition who realizes that would be a bad move. I would never want to put myself at a disadvantage simply because I thought I could do something cheaper. No matter what level of business you’re in, there is likely someone who can absolutely crush something much better than you can. Wouldn’t it be best to evaluate all your options and seek professional advice before hurdling towards failure?

    • Matt Hodson says:

      Thanks for the comment Nick! When I posted this I was speaking of those companies who think that the agency system is the way to go. In advertising’s case it is a better business model but how many companies are using interns and consultants to run social media? Yes there is definitely a need, maybe what we need more is a change in mindset (and job title). Hopefully Social Media Consultant will not become synonymous with used car salesperson or anything like that. Being more of a coach is a better fit for most consultants.

      Consultants will never become irrelevant and I would prefer that they do not. These experts have more time then the dedicated professionals in an organization to keep up with this ever changing world. Do I think of myself or anyone else as irrelevant? No but the tides are changing and we can adapt or get swept away. Thanks for your insight! I love a discussion!

      • Nick says:

        In reality, there is no difference between hiring an agency for social media, and hiring an agency (or consultant) for advertising. The belief that any of these things are mutually exclusive is the result of amateur thinking (not calling you out, I swear). Would you hire an intern to handle your books? Maybe, but would you hire an intern to handle your FTC filings if you were a NASDAQ listed company? Probably not. It all depends on your situation.

        However, the last place I would want an entry-level employee or intern would be handling any communications with the public. For that matter, even a full-time employee who may be incredible in many ways, but is not an experienced communications expert, is a tragedy waiting to happen. Would I trust a consultant who is handling 3-5, or even 20 other companies social media presence to handle my brand? If they’re doing a great job, absolutely. (And I’m not saying that for my own interests.)

        If I am a master of marketing prowess, it may make sense for me to hire a full-time employee and train them to handle my brand. Or I may hire someone who is ready to rock from day one, but chances are I couldn’t afford to take that person away from their consultant gig on a full-time basis.

        If you select the right consultant, you are saving yourself a lot of money. You are benefitting from economy of scale by handing responsibility to someone who is not only living off me, but is spreading their cost of expertise over several clients.

        It would be great if the world was black & white enough to say we simply need to change job titles, and task A is an agency task, while task B is an employee task. There is no way to apply that logic across the board. No one should ever trust anyone who states otherwise. It’s a complex world, and you need to surround yourself with experts who understand this in order to succeed.

      • Matt Hodson says:

        Very understandable. I see interns as a way to take off the load of the more mundane tasks so handling the books (with occasional monitoring) would be a great fit. Maybe I was not as clear as I had hoped in my explanation. Yes a consultant (or agency for that matter) handling multiple accounts for multiple companies can be a great way to start. Should it be the rule for a long-term social media campaign? No. Now I will explain.

        Direct Marketing and advertising was essentially a one way street. You sent a mail piece or placed an ad and that was that. There really was not the conversation that social media now gives us. there may have been a coupon redemption but really the return has been minimal (yet still effective). Social Media gives your brand the opportunity to interact on a daily and many times minute-by-minute basis with your fans. You can train someone to take the reigns in an outside agency but what happens when people try to interact with something more than a “I love (insert brand name here)” tweet (Check out the Smashburger Twitter feeds as they do not interact with the followers well… this is an agency handling the feed). This can make things much more difficult. I do not believe this is an amateur way of looking at things but more of an advanced Web 2.0 way. Social Media is all about engaging fans and working with them when they have a problem. When you add more people in the mix that becomes much harder.

        Agencies will not go away. 360i has the Gatorade account but does not actually do the tweeting for the brand. 360i supplies expertise but lets Gatorade interact with the brand. Yes agencies have the economies of scale but they also have so many different clients that they cannot become experts on any given brand’s products and services, or culture for that matter. Social Media is all about transparency. Hard to be truly transparent when there is someone standing in the way.

        I try to empower my clients. Get them working the way they need with the tools they will use. Teach a man to fish… right? I monitor and provide feedback and help them along their way to becoming the best social medial marketers they can be. Who would you rather tweet to, an agency or someone from the actual company.

        What is nice is that I agree with you. I am in social media and as such have a sense of preservation about me. I love my job and love working with people. I just want to make a difference. I am glad to see another Social Media Coach (see what I did there) that has a love for the position and you seem to know what you are talking about. Thank you for the friendly discussion.

  3. […] Posted: June 30, 2010 by Matt Hodson in Thoughts Tags: Advice, Marketers, Rebuttal 0 Wow. My last post has caused quite an uproar. I have received a few emails in regards to the post and many have been […]

  4. […] and not just an idea. This is also a good time to plug the Social Media Consultant. Yes I have posted about why there should be no need for consultants but let’s face it, there is definitely a […]

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