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17 things that a social media consultant, agency or customer can’t do for you.

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This started as a post that was born out of frustration. After about 4 rewrites, I have softened it enough that it now speaks as a document that the client, the consultant and the agency can speak to when they begin talking to each other. I have not even covered strategy, objectives, scope or expectations, but at least we have a starting point.

This is not meant to be snarky, ok maybe a little, but it is meant to be somewhat of a cautionary post as well. Part of it being that I have made most of the mistakes myself. I’ve learned from them and yet, I still make them, because what I am still learning is that no two clients are alike. The dynamics are not called the dynamics for nothing! Feel free to add to them as well.

  1. A social media consultant or agency can’t teach you to “do a blog”.-Just because they want you to do it, doesn’t mean you can. It’s not right for every business but let’s say it is. You just might not have been built for it. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just that the assumption can’t be made that everyone is capable of writing a compelling blog with compelling content.
  2. A social media consultant or agency can’t teach you to do “social media”. You don’t do social media. If you’re an SMB or department head and you hear that, look at your phone and say you have to take this call..
  3. A social media consultant or agency can’t teach you how to write for SEO, the User, AND for Social. It’s not easy, it’s time intensive, and not for the faint of heart and probably not in their DNA. Though it is a great quality to possess. If they are asking or expecting you to, be afraid, be very afraid.
  4. A social media consultant or agency can’t teach you to understand the relationship between search and social. Why? It’s an art as much as it is science and to be honest, why should they? It’s not what they do! Should you take the time to at least understand the dynamics? Yes.
  5. A social media consultant or agency can’t, won’t, or might not teach you to understand when it’s appropriate to not to do something with social media. Why? It’s not in their best interests. What you might not hear is that some aspects of social media are just not right for every business. Let’s not jam round pegs into square holes just for the sake of getting the business. As a decision maker always ask why. It’s you’re right. Which leads to #6.
  6. A social media consultant or agency won’t teach you to understand the why. Why? Because they don’t really care about theory, they might not get it, nor do they want to spend time educating you. You need to take the time yourself to understand the why. Preferably before they come calling. Make them squirm. Dazzle them with your knowledge.
  7. A social media consultant or agency can’t teach you to know when not to pimp your stuff. Why?  Because if you think it’s the right thing to do and you’re a traditional marketer, chances are, you’re going to do it anyway. Like the analogy of the actor who thinks he always has to be “on” when he’s in public. You don’t always have to pimp your stuff.
  8. A social media consultant or agency can’t teach you to be yourself. They can tell you, they just can’t teach you. You will figure out that being authentic goes a lot further than #7.
  9. A social media consultant or agency can’t teach you how to have real conversations. You know the difference, really…you do! You have them at the dinner table every night. That’s real.
  10. A social media consultant or agency can’t teach you how to have real online conversations that result in business. Slightly different from #7 but no less impactful or important. The gist being that you can’t force the action.
  11. A social media consultant or agency can’t teach you how to not be disingenuous. You’ll find out real quick how this one works. It’s generally when you learn what the word flame means in the online world and the only voice you hear is youw own.
  12. A social media consultant or agency can’t teach you how to not be overt and blatant with your marketing message. Why? You’ll think that it’s the right thing to do to, until you see otherwise. See #10
  13. A social media consultant or agency can’t teach you to have your “ah-ha” moment, you’ll know when it happens. You will have it. Though they may have the skills to set up a moment for you, they’re more fun when you have them on your own time.
  14. Agencies can’t teach patience and perseverance- they don’t care. That’s not their business model. Though that is a cornerstone element of social media.
  15. A social media consultant or agency can’t teach you to want it- if you don’t want it, then you won’t want it…this speaks to #17
  16. A social media consultant or agency can’t teach you to write FBML why? Because chances are they don’t know what it is. They will  just outsource it
  17. A social media consultant or agency can’t teach you how to “be social”…You just have to try.

Hopefully you can’t take these nuggets for what they are-lessons learned.

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2 Responses to “17 things that a social media consultant, agency or customer can’t do for you.”


  1. 1 Rob Laughter August 13, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    While I understand your argument, I disagree with you on many of these points. I teach businesses to use social media effectively (though I hate the word “consultant”) and I include many the items we “can’t do” in developing social media strategy for individuals, small businesses, and corporations.

    Here’s the biggest problem I have with your argument: you are–by your own admission–frustrated. A strong social media consultant or agency has a diverse background in traditional marketing, PR, web design, and SEO. Because you haven’t found that agency, however, doesn’t mean that there aren’t any capable consultants and groups out there that can indeed speak your language.

    Personally, I was a web designer and programmer from the get-go. I then started to work in SEO (beginning right around the time of the bursting of the dot-com bubble), and I was a marketing student in college. It was only after I had earned the relevant experience that I started working as a full-time social media “consultant” (ahem)…

    If you were to preface each of your points with “I’d like to see a social media consultant or agency that…” rather than “A social media consultant or agency can’t…” I’d be very enthusiastic about this article. Negativity of this sorts, however, won’t solve your–or any other–problems or complaints.

    Finding a social media consultant is like falling in love. Find yourself a good one and you’ll want to keep that person around for a while 😉

    Cheers,
    Rob


  1. 1 “I’d like to see a social media consultant or agency that…” « Direct Marketing Observations Trackback on August 13, 2009 at 7:02 pm
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Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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