HARO (Help a Reporter Out) founder Peter Shankman knows a thing or two about online, email and social media marketing. After all, the former Chicago reporter built an online service that links reporters, freelance writers, bloggers and sources.
More than 103,000 readers and 50,000 journalists connect through Shankman’s newsletters. I’ve been a subscriber for years, and recommend it often.
But this blog isn’t about Shankman’s business. It’s about his bluntly funny tirade on the subject of social media experts in a Business Insider guest post Why I will Never, Ever Hire a Social Media Expert. One of the things that makes it so wickedly funny is that Shankman’s motto for HARO is, “Everybody’s an expert at something.”
It’s a great article, written with Shankman’s usual humor and wit. Unfortunately, a lot of the funniest lines are also all too true. For instance:
- Being a social media expert is like being an expert at taking the bread out of the refrigerator. If you can’t use the bread to make a sandwich, it’s a pretty useless skill.
- Social media by itself won’t help you.
- If you’re Tweeting all your discounts, and none of your customers are on Twitter, then you, sir, are an idiot.
His point is simple, but easy to forget. Marketing isn’t about fans or influence or building a brand image. It’s about generating revenue with great customer service, and outstanding products — just as it has always been.
Shankman also touched on one of my personal pet peeves about people who call themselves social media experts. A lot of them can’t write a simple subject-verb-object sentence. I know a more than one “world recognized” social media expert with a blog and website put together in India or the Phillippines by low-paid talent, legions of Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn fans, and basic writing skills that wouldn’t earn a “C” in middle-school English.
Some of them are brilliant, but only in their own ephemeral and very short-lived little business spectrum. When real marketers who understand sales enablement and multi-channel communications catch on to the fact that they don’t really need these highly specialized experts, I expect them to vanish just as quickly as all the 1990’s “dot com” millionaires who never were.
In the meantime, be sure to check out Shankman’s pointed, accurate and important rant.