Michael Hyatt, author of, Platform: Getting Noticed In A Noisy World, believes social media frauds are so abundant these days, he included a chapter in his book dedicated to warning unassuming readers.
"I am increasingly being pitched by so-called media experts. Very few are bona fide experts. Some are traditional media people who are repacking the same old advice using the new buzzwords. More than a few are unemployed marketing people who discovered Twitter last month."
When hiring a consultant to work on social media for your company, do your research. Make sure that the person you're hiring has the expertise to get the job done right.
If you're pitched by or are seeking someone out, here are seven warning signs that they're a fraud:
1. They don't get more traffic than you. If you're looking for help from an expert, they should already have a bigger influence than you. If it all comes down to numbers and your numbers are higher, then it would seem you are the expert, and not the self-claimed consultant. Hyatt encourages businesses to check the expert's site traffic on Compete.com.
"If the so-called expert doesn't have more traffic than I do, I ignore him," says Hyatt.
2. They're following more people than they have followers. You don't want a follower running your social media campaign; you want a leader. When you see a person who follows thousands of people, and they are only followed by a few hundred, consider it a red flag. You can rightfully assume that the person followed anyone and everyone and that the majority of the people following that person was the result of follow-backs.
3. They don't have a blog. In an article on Forbes featuring the top social media influencers, the top ten all have blogs, delivering tidbits of advice and insight into the business world. If your social media expert doesn't have a blog, they either aren't as credible as they appear, or they are just starting out.
"You wouldn't want to attempt to climb Mount Everest, get halfway up the mountain, and then discover this is your guide 's first climb," says Hyatt. You want to hire someone who carries experience that can be proven.
4. Their name or company name doesn't appear at the top of search results. Social media experts are their own brand, and their is no reason why an expert shouldn't be on the first page of the search results, preferably within the first five listings. If you have to go on a hunt to find some information regarding their services than you should start looking elsewhere.
5. They have a ton of followers on Twitter and place emphasis on that number. As much as people like to think that the number of followers matters, it doesn't. A real scam artist will follow people to get followed back, and then delete the person they originally followed. Politician Newt Gingrich had more than one million followers. After an investigation on the highly questionable number, which he proudly touted, it was discovered that 92 percent were fake. Always be aware of overly high numbers, especially if they are emphasized by the consultant.
6. Their spiel is full of buzz words with little context. Social media buzz words, such as metrics, engagement, influence and social graph all sound great, but without providing a context for them, they mean very little. Frauds will throw these words around loosely because they sound applicable. Always ask the golden one-word question: How? When they say they can increase your site traffic, get you more followers, or target your audience, always ask how.
7. They focus only on Twitter and Facebook. A real social media expert will capitalize on all avenues of social media, including Pinterest, YouTube, and Flickr. They will have a strategy on how to promote your brand on each platform. You wouldn't run for President and only ask certain people to vote for you. You want to take advantage of everything out there.
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