Networking in Berkshire - Business Event Details

Social Media Guru? Social Media Expert? Prove it!

I am a member of a LinkedIn group – Steve Clarke’s Eureka Sales Solutions Group – and a very good one it is! One of my favourites because it’s pretty lively, plenty of contributors – and actually useful!

Now, Steve is a great person to get a discussion going – he’d be good at your next dinner party in fact! Likes a bit of controversy, or maybe just likes using it to fire off a juicy discussion that is going to get people’s attention ;-) . Either way it works in terms of engaging the people around – and engaging people is what we are all about at Saucy Horse.

He certainly engaged me this morning.

I have been thinking about a pretty rubbish presentation on how Twitter can help businesses with their marketing effort that I sat through a week or so ago, at a local networking event. The networking event itself was actually brilliant. Full of really interesting local business people from a really diverse cross-section of companies, well organised – and I met some excellent contacts.

However, what made my blood boil was that the person doing the presentation managed to turn an opportunity to promote a superb and effective marketing tool to these good people – all keen to grow and improve their businesses – into a bit of a joke. The presentation was basic, simplistic in fact, wrong in parts and, for me, the worst of it was when a case study was used. A case study of how a mobile cup cake van revolutionised it’s business… in the USA! I am based in Buckinghamshire – this didn’t translate! In fact, many of the audience were laughing and I felt sure, left the meeting believing their misconception that Social Media was for kids was probably correct – what a waste of an opportunity!

It didn’t seem to engage the group in terms of how this could translate to their own businesses – which included the banking, health & leisure, PR, local government, B2B marketing consultants, graphic designers, print, local trades etc. And why would it?? Alarm bells ring for me immediately when someone from the Home Counties wants to give examples of how Social Media works – and then relates a totally irrelevant story from our friends across the water!

That’s not to say it’s not a great example of what social media can do for that sort of business, because it actually is – read about it here – but if you don’t have any relevant examples from your own experience, and if you don’t want to spend too much time researching what’s going on in your own markets, then a case study found on Google, from the States about mobile vans giving out their locations on Twitter to sell cakes is probably the easiest thing to drop in to your slide presentation. (Slides!! Not even a video… and there are plenty of those in the social media space which would wow the socks off most business people). Easiest, but not the most effective.

Okay – let’s move on. Social Media is a tool and there is no doubt it is a brilliant one in the hands of an experienced Marketer – BUT only one who has spent some time learning about, understanding & implementing a Social Media approach that they are able to imbue with passion, positivity and relevance to the business that they are working with.

For those that are interested here’s my comment -

Social media is a tool as Steve says – tools in the hands of the uninitiated or those with only the most basic understanding of what they can do are pretty useless – hit and miss I’d say. No “Social Media Expert” can advise on how best to utilise the tools – LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, FourSquare, Quora et al – UNLESS they understand & have experience in how to market. I sat through an absolutely catastrophic presentation on Twitter recently, having to bite my lip until I could add something to the questions from the floor. The so-called expert (who runs a marketing consultancy but doesn’t even Tweet properly, let alone really know what YouTube could do for a business) then sold seats on a training day for £100 a head. So my advice to anyone accosted by either an ‘Expert’ or ‘Guru’ (what a dreadful term in this context) is to do exactly what Tessa did – ask for a strategy- and this will include how to deliver your message, to which audience and how to locate that audience, as well as specific content strategy & how it will link across all the platforms. Please bear in mind – when discussing this area of your marketing, you will need to ensure coordination with existing marketing efforts – but make no mistake, you will need to capitalise on the potential of these explosive platforms before your competitors do. Your customers are on them in their millions. Lots on this on our website at Saucy Horse – and you will not see one mention of either Expert or Guru, but what you will see is that we are experienced marketers – BUT not just marketers. We have invested time & effort in learning how to use SM and we understand the power of social media SEO & video content SEO. As Steve says, the less confident tecchies don’t like how the search engines are  now ranking SM so high in rankings –  we do! However, don’t just sign up with an established marketing team for your Social Media help – you need to identify a team who have a total passion for the sheer power of Social Media so that they can engage in the right SOCIAL context on the platforms. No good being simply a broadcaster or a salesperson. I could go on – just be wise in your choice of who you ask to work with you – meet, chat, ensure they want to know about your business before they even start telling you what they can do – and don’t let the wagon jumpers put you off. Make no mistake – Social media is absolute marketing brilliance for business owners in the hands of a professional who you believe can encapsulate your values, your culture in the social media profile they help establish for you. Bit of a rant but I get frustrated when I see idiots & chancers putting businesses off what is a truly remarkable opportunity :-) ”

Please leave me a comment – tell me what you’re experiences are of Social Media Gurus & Experts…

And if you fancy joining the group & following the discussion, I’m sure Steve will be pleased to have you…

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Ken Norman February 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm [edit]

I love it when you see social media “guru” selling their twitter workshops. You look them up and they have 132 followers! Social Media experts I don’t think so!!


Charlie Southwell February 7, 2011 at 4:25 pm [edit]

Not to get facetious as I know this is unlikely to be the case, but if they happened to be 132 influential followers or had meaningful dialogue and were successful at spreading the desired message they might actually be quite good at social media. ;)


Steve Wilson February 7, 2011 at 5:16 pm [edit]

Agree wholeheartedly with Charlie Southwell’s comment! No matter how many times the people who are involved with social media say that it’s “quality that counts” they just can’t get away from the numbers game!!

Go on everyone, admit it, if somebody claimed to be an expert on Twitter, the very first thing you would do isn’t to check their klout score (which in itself is misleading) or check their tweets or check their results of using Twitter? No, the first thing you would do is check how many followers they have and then this would cloud every other judgement you make from that point forward!! It’s the modern equivalent of judging a company on number of customers or turnover, rather than its net profit!

Don’t talk the talk, walk the walk… ;o)


Tracy February 7, 2011 at 5:28 pm [edit]

These boots are made for walking…


Tracy February 7, 2011 at 12:41 pm [edit]

It’s ridiculous isn’t it, Ken – and then you look at the quality & content of what they are actually tweeting and it’s just short links for their sales pitches – links to their sales website for Workshops!! They’ll be flushed out as clients begin to research and learn what questions to ask. Thanks for commenting.


Joy McCarthy February 7, 2011 at 12:43 pm [edit]

Excellent post!

I’m afraid I’m a sceptic – when someone has been billed as a social media (or any other kind of) expert, I do check them out before going along. Sadly, there is a lot of ‘do as I say’ not ‘do as I do’ going on. The unfortunate thing is it can also harm the credibility of the people who do know what they are talking about.


Tracy February 7, 2011 at 1:36 pm [edit]

Joy, this is the crux of what frustrates me – the fact that those who do have something to offer have to overcome a degree of scepticism, aroused by the less experienced / less well-informed band of bandwagon jumpers. However I’m heartened by the belief that those clients looking to find a partner to work with in social media marketing will use their acumen and plain common sense to ensure they engage only those who can deliver. Thanks so much for your thoughts.


Steve Wilson February 7, 2011 at 5:17 pm [edit]

Don’t be too disheartened Tracy, it’s like this in every business, and it always will be as long as humans are involved!


Tracy February 7, 2011 at 5:28 pm [edit]

I don’t think I am disheartened – as I said in reply to Joy earlier I do believe “… that those clients looking to find a partner to work with in social media marketing will use their acumen and plain common sense to ensure they engage only those who can deliver” The Eternal Optimist, me ;-)


Jane van Velsen February 7, 2011 at 2:29 pm [edit]

Hi Tracey
It’s a common occurrence these days I’m afraid. I do believe that there are some out there who, with their history in marketing, have genuinely ‘grown up’ with social media marketing and are able to impart their knowledge to others in a way that suits their overall objectives and help them put together a workable social media strategy that lies within the marketing frame they have. I have seen/heard a lot of ‘gurus’ and ‘experts’ but all they are ‘selling’ is how to use the tools, not how all those tools together form a platform for to enhance a sound marketing strategy. Each business/brand/person will have different objectives and need to use a variety of marketing tools, social media is just one small part of that and this is what people are missing. I’ve sat in a couple of presentations now where so called ‘guru’s’ are telling people their version of how these tools must be used when there are no fixed ‘rules’. I’ve seldom heard those ‘gurus’ explain how social media fits into the whole mix. It’s sad because when those people/businesses don’t get the result they have been led to believe that they should, they will lose faith in what is a very powerful medium if used correctly. I share your frustrations and only hope that in time people will begin to tell the marketers from the ‘gurus’.


Tracy February 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm [edit]

Thanks Jane – I’m all for the approach you suggest ie. finding out what the marketing need is – and then working out which elements & tools will be best combined to provide a successful outcome. 99% of the time those tools include both online and offline elements working in harmony! Thanks for commenting :-)


Steve Wilson February 7, 2011 at 5:32 pm [edit]

Tracy, I kind of agree with you, but there is also a danger of nepotism and egotism creeping into the whole argument. Marketers are traditionally very protective of their arena but in a lot of cases, experience can hinder you? I’ve seen a lot of very experienced marketers, who have been successful in traditional marketing, make an absolute hash of Social Media because they simply don’t understand the reality of it all? It’s a step change in the way we now have to actually talk to customers and engage with them as people, whereas a lot of marketeers are still cemented into the practice of treating customers as homogenous groups?

I firrmly believe that each Social media person should be judged on their own merits; experience can only be a shallow consideration at best, both because Social Media and the way it interacts with the consumer is too new for anyone to have ‘proper’ experience of it, and because it’s changing too quickly!!

I’ve had some (apparently) experienced sales and marketing types (Eg. 4N networking people) unfollow me on Twitter; I’m fairly sure it’s because I’m too open and ‘human’ for them and not ‘professional’ enough in my tweets but, you know what, I’m bloody good at what I do (a pub licensee) and yet I’ve gained more business for my business from my relatively new Social Media activity than from any other thing I’ve ever spent time on! It’s all about relevance!

Sometimes you can spend too long thinking about “strategies” and “platform intergration” when all that a lot of SMEs need is to get out there and do something before it all changes again. It’s fine having a long-term strategy for linking Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & YouTube but what do you do if none of those platforms exist next year (FriendsReunited & MySpace being the obvious, and at one time, seemingly invincible examples)? :o )


Tracy February 7, 2011 at 5:57 pm [edit]

Oh, I love all of that! I’ve met the old-school marketing experts as well – but that’s what I was talking about when I spoke about ensuring that your SM contact not only knows what they are talking about in terms of taking a message to a market (experience), but oozes enthusiasm & “socialness” to apply it in these arenas. And you have to believe they “get” your business. The reality in my experience so far is that the “pre-social” marketers are searching out Social Media Partners to help them help their clients – the good ones are anyway. At it’s most pure, being social is being how you’d be when you first joined a party where you didn’t know anyone… Same rules apply – if you’re insincere, self-centred, arrogant or a bit creepy, people won’t talk to you. If you are real, a good listener, chatty in response & a bit interesting, you’ll make friends. That’s why a publican is good at this stuff ;-)


Paul Ricketts February 7, 2011 at 2:49 pm [edit]

It is interesting how so many people are scared to identify themselves as experts, yet the ones that are, are so far off beam it’s disgraceful. I’ve immersed myself over the past 4 months, reading, commenting and experimenting, and I can say for sure, there are lots of people out there, few of them current or topical, using the tools at their disposal. There are gems in the dross and that makes it worthwhile,
find me on twitter @sifu33


Tracy February 7, 2011 at 3:07 pm [edit]

Sock it to ‘em Paul and you’ve got a #cupcakeobsession thing going on I see in your Twitter stream, so very relevant! Thanks for commenting.


Paul Ricketts February 7, 2011 at 3:13 pm [edit]

lol the #cupcakeobsession however, I did use it, as an experiment with my small following, to help a friend grow her followers, which I achieved, and also got myself quite a few cupcakes and incidentally a lot of cupcake companies wanting to follow me, it was as easy as that. Good article, thank you for taking the time to write and, indeed, comment on the replies, I think you will find that elevates you to the heady state of Guru!


Tracy February 7, 2011 at 3:38 pm [edit]

Tee hee – I’m off to fashion a sash ;-)


Ian February 7, 2011 at 3:21 pm [edit]

Great rant Tracy; I agree with everything you’ve highlighted. I also find those claiming to be ‘word of mouth specialists’ particularly annoying.


Tracy February 7, 2011 at 3:44 pm [edit]

Yes – what is a “WOM specialist” exactly? Has a slightly negative connotation for me – I know people who’d qualify – except we just call them “gossips” … or worse ;-) . It all comes back to ensuring you are actually adding value to your client, rather than taking them for a ride, doesn’t it?


Ian February 7, 2011 at 4:58 pm [edit]

It truly is about adding value to you customers.


Ian February 7, 2011 at 4:59 pm [edit]

Oops typo; ‘your’


Charlie Southwell February 7, 2011 at 3:28 pm [edit]

Someone wise once said:

?”The trouble with the world is that the stupid are confident and the intelligent are full of doubt.”

I think this applies to the social media guru and the professionals who don’t focus on the (meaningless) numbers. Gurs/Experts/Ninjas/Magicians/Cowboys trick directors, MDs and CEOs into thinking they want followers, not interactions, better sentiment or *god forbid* more business.

Its tough putting it into practise as you scale helping other people though, I find I do a lot of work with other people and have ended up neglecting my company profile (although my personal one is very active and get most of my business through that channel).


Paul Ricketts February 7, 2011 at 3:31 pm [edit]

You are right with that comment, I find it hard to maintain business one correctly, when looking after others, but I always maintain mine first and foremost, and Im not even an expert nor managing loads of accounts


Charlie Southwell February 7, 2011 at 3:39 pm [edit]

In honesty Paul, I struggle with the term expert in any field of work that hasn’t done extensive unparalleled research. With social media, the channels evolve so quickly there are few people who can claim to be that, but I am sure some exist and I bet they don’t call themselves experts.


Tracy February 7, 2011 at 3:57 pm [edit]

And that’s a great point, Charlie – how can you be an “expert” in an area that is evolving every second. You can be an enthusiast, an early-adopter, an experimenter, an adventurer, a speculator, a commentator, a practitioner feeding back the results of your experiments to a greedy audience… does your universe encompass Jason Falls? I don’t think I’ve seen a self-made reference to “expert”, “guru”, “demi-god” anywhere in my wanderings through his websites, twitter stuff or Facebook pages, and yet he’s one of the people who I’d say deserves it. He’s here The references on their site refer to “Practical Advice-Givers” and “Status-Quo Questioners”. That, I like.


Graham Harris February 7, 2011 at 4:45 pm [edit]

You describe your comments as a bit of a rant, Tracy, but I and many others will appreciate your post as an educational rant. So many nuggets in there, and the main message I take away is to redouble my efforts to invest time in prospective clients – yes, plenty of time, ahead of their hiring me.
I wouldn’t use anyone who breezed in to my office and expected to breeze out again 30 minutes later with the responsibility for handling my on-line marketing. So many of the people you describe are in it to pull in a few short-term bucks without any effort at the long-term effect. Grrrrrrr!!!!


Tracy February 7, 2011 at 5:30 pm [edit]

And I’m sure that approach will give you a great deal of success, Graham.


Jason Falls February 7, 2011 at 9:47 pm [edit]

If someone calls you an expert, you are one. If you call yourself one, you’re an ass. My two cents.

Thanks for noticing and using me as an example. I’m flattered. Seriously.


Tracy February 9, 2011 at 8:18 am [edit]

Thanks for your (succinct!) comments Jason – I think you sum it up perfectly!


You can add your comments to the discussion at

Views: 9

Comment by Chris Lunn on February 9, 2011 at 14:23
Hi Tracy, good post and although I wasn't at your event, I can understand where you are coming from.  I've met some interesting people over the past couple of years as 'Social Media' continues to open more doors for you note above, it's always worth checking out the 'expert' via their own twitter account to see how they are using it.  I've found many who do a good job at engaging and many who make a lot of noise which is generally ignored.  I like Jason Falls comment above in's an interesting time for businesses due to the amount of noise for social media so chosing their right partner is crucial and the good thing is that these accounts move at such pace that if it's not going in the direction or showing the anticipated returns you have a lot of flexibility to change after a suitable length of time.  All the best...
Comment by Tracy Thomas on February 9, 2011 at 15:14
That's true Chris - as always in marketing matters, it's about monitoring success & results isn't it - and that then gives you the power to make the right decisions! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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