Social Media Expert?

      So is there such a thing as a “Social Media Expert”? Lately I have been seeing a lot about this subject on the group “Social Media Today” on LinkedIn  and Google +. As well as several other blogs. Yesterday I was in a meeting where I was called a “Social Media Expert” several times but I do not consider myself an expert, just someone who has been working with Social Media for over 6 years and understands how to make it work and also I keep my eyes on what’s new and what the new trends are.

I don’t believe anyone can be an expert on Social Media or any industry for that matter unless you keep learning about the industry and the changes that happen within that industry.  When I first started working in Social Media I used to love to ask people who said they knew all about Social Media if they had heard of Second Life and Kaneva. Most said no, so that told me something.

For those of you who don’t know they are virtual worlds that allow individuals to interact in a social way using an avatar and many businesses are using this as well.

Here is what I wanted to say. I have seen many lists and many opinions on what to look for when looking for a Social Media Strategist or so-called “Expert”. I agree whole heartedly with most of these but I have one big question.

How are the people who are deciding what’s on these lists coming up with the information. Yes it needs to work, it needs to be more than how to create a FB (Facebook) page, and it needs to be a part of a holistic strategy. But who is right?

One of the big ones I see all the time is that if you have 1008 followers on Twitter and you follow 1010 people this is a flag that you may not be a social media ex… But I have to ask the question, does having a large following on Twitter make you an expert or does what you communicate to that audience, no matter the size of the audience, matter more?

I have been thinking about this for a while and just wanted to state that just because someone thinks that you have to be a certain way in order to be a Social Media Expert doesn’t mean that you should let them have the last word. You should pick consultants and firms to help you with your Social Media based on your relationship with them, their knowledge of social media overall, their knowledge of integrating it into your current business processes and (here comes a big one) – helps you build trust and affects behavior with the social media strategy and implementation you are, or plan on doing.

See, couldn’t help myself, had to give my own opinion. But keep in mind that this is a young industry and remember that the “Experts” used to state without a doubt in their mind with many measurable results that the “World was Flat”. This was a common and accepted thought for years. So the next time you see a list (and I have some out there) or someone stating how to pick a Social Media Expert just keep in mind that it might be a good idea to think that it is just their opinion.

The World is not Flat it is round but we did not figure that out until one man overcame this old thought which was prevalent in the first half of the 20th century. Not that long ago. So lighten up out there on what you think or don’t think a Social Media Expert is.

Les Adkins is the CEO of  Orange SMS Consulting and a Social Media Strategist, speaker, consultant and author. Bringing strategy and whole brain thinking to creative campaigns and social media through his work. Please follow @mysylbert and connect on LinkedIn


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Last 5 Signs You Have Strong Social Media Consultant or Agency

 Social Media is a strange and bizarre world for some. When reaching out for help from a Consultant or Agency how do you determine who is good and yes who is bad and everything in between?

Hopefully we have given you some insight into determining a Strong Social Media Consultant or Agency.

Today we are going to give you the final 5 signs.

Here we go:

Are you ready?

“21. Understands the difference between social media tools and communications strategy 

So Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, Tweet Deck, Hoot Suite, Vocus, Radian6 and other tools are just that tools. (some Great tools, though). A communications strategy relates to your audience and presents a cohesive message that causes action or discusses vital information open to dialogue among your employees, customers, prospects and vendors. So beware any organization coming in and saying you need to start posting on ….(name your tool) if they first don’t understand your company Objectives, who your Audience is and what you want that Audience to do.

“22. They won’t recommend blogging as a first step into social media Social Media’s Ferrari Has Flat Tires and when you are ready to begin they consult you on how to be successful”

Blogging has had some bad press lately,  but it is not the first step in your social media strategy. Remember it is about your audience and your objectives and developing a strategy around those two factors. Your strategy is unique to you and your organization. Blogging should never be your only strategy for social media.

“23. Doesn’t allow clients to be affected by Shiny New Object syndrome

I once had a client who kept trying to get me to recommend the best monitoring tool out there for Social Media. I kept telling him that it is not about the tool but what you do with the information you get from the  monitoring tool/station/software.

Companies will always come out with a new shiny app, platform or other tool. Remember that whatever you use it needs to help you implement your strategy to your audience. Therefore your audience needs to be able to be reached by any new tool or shiny object you use.

“24. Understands that social media is more than just creating and delivering content or regurgitating existing promotional copy

This is vital. If you are looking for someone to create content for you, you should go to an Ad Agency or marketing person that writes professionally (that is not social media). Remember it is about the conversation. Join the dialogue and join in your audiences dialogue. Even if they are discussing your competitor in a good way.

Remember social media is not about you, it is about your audience and their thoughts and opinions.

“25. Understands that social media isn’t the sole terrain of marketing or PR, and helps clients educate internally to other departments” 

Social Media, beyond all the fun shiny new objects, is a way to build trust with your audience. This audience should include all employees, all customers, all prospects and all vendors- or at least be open to all. This goes well beyond PR and Marketing. SM consultants are currently facing a struggle in education and there are a lot of companies getting hosed by Marketing and PR firms claiming to do Social Media.

I tried to add examples where I could and also add some additional insight to the original “25 Signs..”. My strong hope is that this helps you the next time you are looking for a ‘Strong Social Media Consultant”

LA_ retouch glassesLes Adkins CEO and Founder Orange SMS, Serial Entrepreneur, Adventurer, and co-founder APocket (coming to your mobile device soon)  #LikeAPocketonFB #ChangeTheWorld

Facebook Orange SMS and APocket

Follow @Orange2Social and @theAPocket

Connect on LinkedIn Orange SMS

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Do you have a Strong Social Media Consultant?

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction Albert Einstein

I wonder what Albert Einstein would of said about Social Media today? His quote above is appropriate because Social Media Consultants, strong ones, tend to go in the opposite direction of accepted, traditional,  business practices.

So continuing with our next 5 Signs “You’ve Got a Strong SM-(Social Media) – Consultant or Agency”  Please see the first 15 signs of 25 in previous blogs on Orange SMS

Here we go:

“16.) Listens to you when you are discussing your challenges”

This is a very important one. Make sure that the consultant is using a methodology similar to POST created by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff  that can be found in the book Groundswell.

P eople = audience

O bjective = what do they want their audience to do, what behavior change?

S trategy = the strategy to affect a behavior change and action and build trust

T echnology = implementing the strategy where your audience is.

The only way you can do this effectively is to listen to the challenges and truly listen through active listening, not waiting for someone to stop talking so you can sell you their platform.

“17. Helps and guides clients so that they can understand the benefit of social media and implement it properly (themselves)”

This one goes against what most so-called consultants are telling you, but the goal of a strong consultant should be to build an internal team around them that allows the company, or organization, to implement and maintain any social media strategy themselves, internally.

They should work with those currently involved in the company’s social media implementation and help them improve or focus what they are already doing into a true strategic part of the companies communication to employees, vendors, prospects and customers.

“18. Knows that social networking works best when they are conversing, sharing, and being human (i.e. doesn’t self promote)”

Remember there are other ways to promote your organization and business. Social Media is more about building Trust, and this involves adding value to your audience without self promotion.

I was asked the other day about companies that do Social Media but provide a proprietary platform. My thought is that although some of them may provide great knowledge their ultimate goal is to sell their own platform whether it fits your needs or not. Beware the platform based Social Media pitch.

“19. Educates clients on understanding that they no longer own or control their brand and educate them on how to create customer evangelists”

This is a hard one,  but one that any strong consultant should be conveying to their client. As we have said previously it goes against that old traditional business model of control, control, control and protect your brand.

“20. Won’t act as your social media ‘voice’ or ghostwrite for you”

This debate is continuing as I write this, as there are several agencies doing this and making quite a lot of money. The question is really of time and resources for the company. I do agree with #20 very strongly and if you must have another agency or someone else write your posts, make sure they are writing “on your behalf” and that is stated clearly. Don’t let them make it look like it is coming from you!

Work with a consultant to define your audience, form your message and strategy but ultimately you or your internal staff need to do the actual implementation. You can always consult but beware having someone else do all of it for you.

Tomorrow we will disclose the final 5. Have a great day!

LA_ retouch glassesLes Adkins CEO and Founder Orange SMS, Serial Entrepreneur, Adventurer, and co-founder APocket (coming to your mobile device soon)  #LikeAPocketonFB #ChangeTheWorld

Facebook Orange SMS and APocket

Follow @Orange2Social and @theAPocket

Connect on LinkedIn Orange SMS

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Do You Have a Strong Social Media Consultant?

When it comes to Social Media do you have the right consultant? Seems like you can’t throw a rock without hitting someone who claims to do “Social Media”. Do you have someone who listens and more importantly will champion your social media strategy and not implement their own? We went over the first 5 signs you’ve got a strong SM (Social Media) Consultant or Agency previously. How to Pick a Strong Social Media Consultant.

Sorry in advance for the length of this blog it’s longggggg.

The next 10 Signs You’ve Got a Strong SM Consultant or Agency 

 ” 6. Understands that Radian6 and other monitoring tools are vastly superior tracking tools in comparison to Technorati (which really isn’t an indicator of much these days as technology keeps improving and tools keep getting better).”  

I do agree that in order to create a powerful Social Media Strategy you need to have a strong monitoring tool for Social Media, there is also Vocus and several others on the market now. It’s what you do with the information you receive and how you interact with those mentioning you by name or asking for help.

“7. Will tell you that there is no magic bullet for determining social media ROI and that you need to go further to accurately monitor, measure and determine the effectiveness of social media.”

Nuff said!

“8. Understands that social media is an important part of the larger word of mouth marketing principles. ”

After looking at the example I highly recommend taking some time to fully read it. Personally I believe that social media should be integrated into an organization from a holistic perspective meaning that it is used for all communication. Marketing and word of mouth marketing is just one component. Work with someone who has partners to integrate social media fully into an organizational strategy.

“9. Others cite this person/agency’s work”

Also look at their LinkedIn recommendations and ask around at your networking events for who people would recommend. This is a new enough industry that the “so-called” leaders are changing daily and new ones, that are good, are taking their place.

“10. Realizes that search engine optimization represents an absolutely crucial part of social media.

SEO is changing on a regular basis based on different algorithm’s being written. Companies like Vayu Media who understand SEO and keep updated on the latest changes plus a strong SM Consultant who can help incorporate that into an overall strategy is vital. Beware those who use the words SEO and Social Media as equal.

“11. Understands that social media expands beyond search engine optimization tactics that lead to Diggs, Stumbles (StumbleUpon) and link baiting”

See above statement regarding SEO.

“12. Integrates brick and mortar events with social media activity”

Make sure that the SM consultant understands the value of brick and mortar events in association with social media. Face 2 Face is an important aspect of connecting through Social Media.

“13. Has and continues to work on notable social media projects”

Agree! There is a lot of new talent out there that is just starting so they may not have as much experience as some others but if they meet the majority of the above they are probably worth working with.

“14. Understands that conversations are the starting place and not the end game. And though ROI is critical, knows that without conversation you’re not going anywhere”

They have to believe in the conversation, that is dialogue back and forth, both good and bad, and how to deal with and react to both.

“15. Understands that social networking and conversation is more than collecting followers and subscribers”

You’ll notice some of these examples go all the way back to 2008, but the information is still relevant and vital.

Well sorry for the lengthy blog. I hope this is helping with your decision to hire an agency or consultant. See you soon!

LA_ retouch glassesLes Adkins CEO and Founder Orange SMS, Serial Entrepreneur, Adventurer, and co-founder APocket (coming to your mobile device soon)  #LikeAPocketonFB #ChangeTheWorld

Facebook Orange SMS and APocket

Follow @Orange2Social and @theAPocket

Connect on LinkedIn Orange SMS

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How to Pick a Strong Social Media Consultant

So there have been so many people I have met lately who claim to do “Social Media Consulting” that I thought it was a good time to refresh your memory about how to pick a strong Social Media Consultant. So whether you use “Orange SMS Consulting” or someone else, you need to make sure you are picking the right one.

Beth Harte and Geoff Livingston wrote a blog  titled “25 Signs You’ve Got a Strong SM Consultant or Agency” So we will be going over these signs this week 5 at a time:

One of the things they say in this blog that is worth repeating on day one is “…Social media communications is still a really new industry, and there are no silver bullet experts or methodologies.” Even today it is still a relatively new industry. These qualifiers are still relevant and if you are missing many of these with your potential partner then you should have a few red flags pop up.

OK, and on we go:

“1. Believes in the generous web and practices cross-linking in their blog.”  

This means that they share other practices such as marketing and other web campaigns in their blogs as part of an overall strategy regarding Social Media.

“2. Highlights others’ work in their blog.”  

A great example of this is Chris Brogan’s Blog who I quote quite often. I am a strong advocate of his book “Trust Agents”. I met Chris and he is a genuine person and SM advocate.  Another quick thought on this topic is that most true SM Consultants don’t look at others’ as competitors, if they are doing it right, but rather a team effort to make sure SM (Social Media) is being delivered in the right way and with the right value add to the audience.

“3. Integrates social media as part of larger marketing strategies”

This is becoming more important for larger and smaller organizations. It can’t be one or the other it needs to be part of an overall strategy. The original blog uses Razorfish as an example of this.  Most strong SM Consultants have partners that can create larger marketing strategies or help connect SM to an already dynamic marketing strategy that the organization currently has.

“4. Doesn’t pretend to be an expert in all things digital; instead focuses on what he/she/they do best.”

A good example of this is Barbara Giamanco as She incorporates social media for sales.

“5. Gives away best practices in an effort to educate, grow social media in general”

Anyone not providing best practices as part of their blog or conversation is probably not a Strong Social Media Consultant.

This is the first 5 of 25 so come  back tomorrow to see the next 5.

I am not against consultants making a living, and by the way I am one, but make sure you pick the best one for your organization. It is usually the Consultant that you have built a relationship with and Trust!

LA_ retouch glassesLes Adkins CEO and Founder Orange SMS, Serial Entrepreneur, Adventurer, and co-founder APocket (coming to your mobile device soon)  #LikeAPocketonFB #ChangeTheWorld

Facebook Orange SMS and APocket

Follow @Orange2Social and @theAPocket

Connect on LinkedIn Orange SMS

Social Media Can Be Effectively Outsourced to a PR firm.

So Happy Friday! We come to our last lie of the week regarding Social Media Marketing. “Social media can be effectively outsourced to a PR firm.” Now this one is a little tricky. I do believe that you can have the implementation outsourced but you need to keep the strategy and development internal. Here is what Mikal E. Belicove “The Daily Dose” has to say.

“Nobody knows your business like the people who work inside your building. You can certainly work with an agency to set up and implement your social media-related efforts or to propose ideas for contests and the like. But when it comes to communicating your messages on a daily basis, your people are in the best position to keep your community of customers and prospects up to date and informed about what really matters to them.” Belicove

At Orange SMS we work like this. We put a consultant in your organization and either work with your current team or build a social media team around that person. The goal is to keep the social media efforts internal. Meaning the posts and the information comes from within the organization. Our goal is to work ourselves out of a job, so to speak. To build a strong strategic oriented team within the organization so they don’t need the consultant any longer.

Now don’t get me wrong we are happy to stay as long as they want us to and to consult when needed but the goal is to have all social media come from within.

What we are finding is there are a lot of organizations doing social media but without any real strategy and that is where the help is needed. So whether you work with us or some other consultant just make sure that the messages, the definition of the audience, the objectives and the strategy are being worked on by a team from within the organization as well.

I tell clients to make sure that any post not written or created by the organization has a caveat of “on behalf of….” in order to keep the transparency rule alive.

So bottom line  I will once again quote Mikal Belicove “In my view there is no ‘one way’ to manage your online positioning using social media. Instead, each company’s marketing strategy should differ depending on specific goals and target audiences.” I agree 100%!

Review of the week (Boy this is too long!)

“Five Lies About Social Media Marketing”

1. Size Matters

2. The medium is the message.

3. Social media gurus really do exist.

4. Social media is ‘new’ media. (remember I had a problem with this one)

5. Social media can be effectively outsourced to a PR firm.

Have a great weekend!

CEO Orange SMS Consulting

Social Media is ‘new’ media.

OK so this one I have to tell you I somewhat disagree with and I’ll explain why in a minute.  But in keeping with the spirit of transparency “The Daily Dose” by Mikal E. Belicove stated the #4 Lie of Social Media Marketing is:

“Social Media is ‘new’ media. No, it isn’t. Media is media. At one point or another, newspapers, radio, television and the Internet were considered new forms of media and now their labeled ‘traditional’ media. So ‘new’ media doesn’t mean that only ‘experts’ or young hotshots can successfully operate your social-media team. That’s hogwash. Nothing replaces knowledge of the basics of marketing, combined with the knowledge of your business-related goals and the need for authenticity and transparency in your socially laden communications.” Belicove

OK so that is what Mikal Belicove has to say. I agree with parts and others I adamantly disagree with. First what I agree with.

I do agree that someone with “…knowledge of your business-related goals…” should run your social media efforts. This can be an Executive who knows how to manage those “young hotshots” Mikal is talking about.

I also agree about needing someone who understands”…the need for authenticity and transparency…”

Now for the things that I disagree with.

First let me tell you my background. I have worked in Television as a director and as an advertising sales executive. My undergrad is in Broadcast Production. I have also run multi-million dollar ad campaigns for organizations and last but not least have been in radio as an ad sales exec. Why do you need to know this? Because of what I’m getting ready to say next.

I believe that Social Media is different from other media. Why because of how it works. “…newspapers, radio, television and the Internet…” is a broadcast media that talks at their customers. Social media is a media that is only truly successful with dialogue. It’s about the conversation! Having one!

Also you can do a short marketing campaign in newspaper, radio, television and the Internet, but in social media, once you begin using it you need to continue using it to communicate to your vendors, prospects, customers and employees. And let them communicate with you. If you disappear from social media you lose trust and credibility.

Here is the hard one for most businesses; you need to build trust in the community by adding value to your community for “Free”. Internet marketers know the value of this and it is even more pure in social media as you need to give this value without expecting the community to buy from you. OUCH! Every marketing person is tearing their eyes out right now and trying to figure out how to find me.

Bottom line is that Social Media is a different media than has ever existed before and the rules are different from other media marketing. So no matter what you call it you need to know your business and build an overall strategy using social with other forms of marketing efforts. If you don’t believe me look at Coca Cola and how much they don’t spend on traditional marketing and how much they have invested in social media marketing. Also look at the differences between those two campaigns.

Sorry Mikal it is different and it is not the same as ‘traditional media’ and never will be! Les Adkins, CEO Orange SMS