Social media smoke blowers: How to stop them hurting your business

I recently wrote a post asking you what your main marketing challenges were, so I could cover them in future posts.

One of the most common questions, was to do with the ocean of information being offered online, by people claiming to be social media experts. Today’s post is all about how to tell those with genuinely useful information, from the fakes.

Social media smoke blowers

It’s extremely easy for someone with little social media skill, to pretend they are a social media expert. All they need is a blog, a photo of them in front of a screen (looking ‘dynamic’ and preferably wearing a headset) and a few social networking tricks.

Here is a selection of what I have personally experienced from some smoke blowers:

  • I was emailed by the author of a book on how to make money on Facebook, who didn’t know what to do as he’d sold fewer than 100 copies. ThisĀ social media marketing expert had no idea how to market his book, via social media or anything else.
  • I was called by a social media trainer, who is well known on the speaking circuit. He wanted to know if I had any work I could give him. This guy specialises in telling people how to attract high quality sales leads.
  • I was emailed by a blogger, author and speaker, who wanted to know if I could get her a free version of my blog theme. I explained that it only cost $60 and she told me that times were tough. This same person is selling online courses and ebooks on how to grow a successful business. She offered to repay me, with retweets!

So, how do you tell the genuinely informed experts from the rest, when you are new to social media and seeking to use it effectively for your business?

Protecting yourself from smoke blowers

I believe the best way to protect yourself from taking bad advice is to do a little research first, then apply some common sense.

For example:

  • If the only testimonials they offer are from others, with similarĀ Pinocchio business models, be very cautious. (A Pinocchio business is one, with no visible means of support.)
  • Always remember that the rules of business apply online, just as they do offline.
  • Don’t let their numbers fool you. 100,000 Twitter followers means nothing. You can buy followers. You can buy software to build massive follower numbers. You can just randomly follow thousands of people, get a subset to follow you back, unfollow them all – then repeat until you have a huge following. If someone seems to lack credibility or you think they are promising impossible results, don’t let their social numbers fool you into ignoring your instinct!
  • Someone claiming to be a social media author or radio host/personality, still needs to be checked out:
    • Thanks to self publishing, my 7 year old son can claim to be an author.
    • Oh, and thanks to free services like blogtalk radio, he can claim to be a radio ‘personality’ too.
    • In both cases he would be telling the truth, but it would have nothing to do with his ability to help you improve your social media results!
  • If it seems too good to be true, it almost always is (yes, even on the Internet).

Consider the source

Always check the source of information before you act on it. Never let easy to fake social media numbers or lofty titles fool you into taking damaging advice or get you to part with your money. Not every social media expert or social networking ‘superstar’ is a fake. Some offer useful information, which makes commercial sense and offers a logical return on your investment.

Just be extremely careful of those promising amazing results, with no logical business path.

Remember -- if you'd like some help with your business or a project, you can Pick My Brain for the answers and ideas you need. This service is [literally] guaranteed to help you. You can find out more here.

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