Social Media Consultants & Companies-The truth can be found in their numbers

I read an article in Wired’s Epicenter from a couple of days ago titled- Gaming the System: How Marketers Rig the Social Media Machine and the article caught my eye for a number of reasons.

The first reason is that when I first “dabbled” in social media 5 years ago-I was that marketer. I was the one gaming the system. Back then, comment spam and server farms did wonders for text based links and I was all over it. But a funny thing happened. I started seeing the conversations. I started paying attention to what was really happening around me. And it was cool. All of a sudden I got it. I had an epiphany. I now understood the real reason why social media was so dynamic and so transformational. I never looked back.

Here’s the second reason the article caught my eye-it was in the opening paragraph.

Regular users of social networks generally collect friends and followers on a one-by-one basis, then use those connections to share their opinions and links to the latest “Double Rainbow” remix or whatever is making the rounds that day.

A One to One basis…
Let that sink in for a bit. OK, so here’s my bigger point.  Let’s say I’m in a need of a social media company or consultant, and that business claims to be all things social. What do you do? What would you do? You check them out right? But how do you vet them?

Before I get to that, let me first offer up that I know that there are lots of good, solid  social media consultants and companies who do great work. My problem is I keep bumping into people or companies claiming that they are social media companies or consultants, and yet I have no clue who they are or what they have done; and worse, upon deeper discovery-they don’t even eat their own dog food or drink their own koolaid.

Here’s what I would do to quickly vet someone or some company that claims to “be” social.

Let’s take an actual Twitter account for example with 2500 followers. OK 2500 followers, that seems cool on the surface and would probably satisfy those who glance quickly at numbers.
But wait…
They only have 130 tweets. If you were acquiring and vetting followers and following people with just a modicum of organic effort and due diligence-by the time you got to 2500 followers, your tweets would be in some type of proportion to those numbers- i.e. 2500 followers- following 2500 and < > =4100 tweets
Let’s keep going. Upon further examination, there are zero conversations.The screenshot below is what you see when you click on the @yourtwittername on the Twitter main page of the example account.
There’s nothing there. Nothing. The tweets that are on the page, consist of lots of repetitive links to their blog pages, and or benign tweets/announcements about benign topics. No “ats” to anyone. Which leads to some really obvious questions:
  • Why on earth would you want a company like this consulting on, creating, and or managing your Twitter program?
  • If they can’t do it themselves internally, why would they treat you or your company any differently?
  • Is that really the way to use Twitter?
  • Is that effective?
All of this information is right there for you to see.
  • Look at who follows them,
  • Look at who they follow.
  • Are they on any lists? What types of lists are they on?
  • Are they sharing and or promoting others?
  • What are the nature of the tweets?
One of the lists this particular company is on is called, “Spammers that follow me”…Nice, That’s the kind of promo I want others to see! If they can’t get Twitter right, does this mean that their Facebook strategy and or their blog, or Linkedin strategy will be any different?
Social Media is equal parts strategy,  tactics and tools as it is about labor. Shortcuts don’t cut it and they can be, readily apparent. If these companies and people are not investing the effort, attention to detail, and labor in themselves-How social can they really be? How are they going to get you right?