Yesterday, I asked whether hiring a social media expert is a really bad idea, referencing Peter Shankman’s “I Will Never Hire a Social Media ‘Expert'” post. Well, Rand Fishkin, someone I think very highly of, took issue with Shankman.
I mention my admiration for Rand here because I’m pretty sure he’s missing Peter’s point. Now, while Peter does take some fairly snarky shots at some of the folks peddling new clothes to any emperor who will listen, his basic point—that social media by itself will not grow your business—is pretty tough to dismiss.
Rand makes another great point when he says,
“Product, marketing, engineering and customer service departments can all benefit from greater knowledge and understanding of social media, and very little of it is common sense. From knowing the difference between an original tweet and a retweet (on the basic end of the spectrum) to crafting lifecycle attribution by melding tools like Bit.ly PRO and Facebook Insights with analytics packages (on the advanced end), social media expertise more than just useful, but often critical to improving overall performance.”
In fact, Rand, his team and the SEOmoz bloggers at large often provide tons of tips precisely aimed at improving overall performance, like this recent one detailing valuable Facebook marketing tactics. Cool, right?
But, here’s the thing. Social media is just one tool in the toolbox of the most sophisticated social media experts.
While there are plenty of outstanding marketers out there who know how to use social media to benefit their companies’ and clients’ bottom line, an equally large segment exists full of people who are full of… well, not so much useful information. What makes the good ones good is that they possess excellent understanding of the tactics of social marketing and the common sense necessary to apply those tactics in a meaningful way. Small businesses, in particular, need more and better information to know where to deploy their time and money to achieve their best results. And, today, that’s not what they’re getting from enough of the “experts” out there.
Do I agree with every one of Peter’s points? I do not. Do I think Rand is wrong in arguing for the value of social media? I do not. Do I think Rand overreacted? Um… kind of, yeah. Any of us who care about digital marketing as a discipline should promote the best in the business and also be willing to call foul on those who don’t measure up.
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