5 Types of Social Media Con Artists

Get new articles sent to you. 

Have you ever paid someone to help you and received nothing but promises, an invoice, and zero results?

It’s happened to me. I “invested” over a thousand a month on a coach that was quick to take my cash but was always busy when I needed help.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve heard similar  from Pushing Social Readers.  They have ranged from bad service to blatant snatch and runs.  Unfortunately, the latest social gold rush has attracted its fair share of con artists. Thankfully, it’s easy to spot these guys if you know where to look.

Here are five types of social media con artists to watch for:

#1: One-Trick Ponies

“To a hammer – everything looks like a nail”

These people have learned one tactic and decided to sell it to everyone who will listen.  They may be helpful in one area but totally inept in others.  But, their lack of proven expertise doesn’t stop them from taking your cash and learning on your dime.

Remember that most social media challenges are solved with a blend of tactics from many disciplines including direct marketing, conversion optimization, content creation, and others.  For example, half of my Business Blogging Expert Guide covers email marketing tactics. Why? Successful business blogs excel at nurturing readers through email and writing great posts.  It’s likely that your problem requires more than one tactic.

Don’t get suckered into paying a Facebook specialist to fix your content marketing problem.

#2: Big Thinkers

These people live at 30,000 feet.

They see the forest and focus on overarching strategies that dazzle audiences but leave day-to-day practitioners scratching their head.  The worst Big Thinkers overlook their inability to turn ideas into action.  They sign you up for an engagement and waste precious time dragging you to the mountaintop.

Successful social business and content marketing is built on precise execution.  Big Thinkers are great for keynote speeches but many times you need someone who can provide hands-on direction.

Don’t be afraid to insist that your coach or consultant explain how their theories specifically apply to your real world business challenge.

#3:  Ventriloquist Dummies

Have you ever talked with a so-called expert that answered every question with a social media soundbite?  Your question about editorial calendars is answered with…

“You gain critical leverage in your social business by focusing on authenticity and courageous transparency”

What?  Seriously?

I call these clowns Ventriloquist Dummies because they are great at parroting the platitudes they’ve heard from someone else.  Often times they don’t have a clue about what is coming out of their mouth.

Steer clear of the “dummies” by doing your homework.  Make sure they have original ideas, unique insights, and can communicate in a way that you can understand.

#4:  Fast-Talking Rookies

We were all rookies at one point.  However, the Fast-Talking rookie believes that his pitch is worth more than expertise.  Fast-Talking rookies cause the most damage because it often takes a lot of time and money to discover that they don’t have a clue.

Protect yourself from the fast-talkers by asking them to diagnose your social media challenge.  Run if you see a bit of substance packaged in layers of fluff.

#5: Pundits

Pundits make excellent panel discussion participants and awful consultants. They are full of opinions and criminally short on real-world experience creating and executing a strategy. You’ve got a pundit on your hands if they spend more time beating up your plan than fixing it.

It’s easy to mistake the Pundit’s opinion for gospel.  Remember that being loud and flamboyant doesn’t qualify someone to be a social media coach.  Don’t be bullied into handing over your cash to these con men, go watch them at conferences instead.

Get help but be smart

I don’t want to give you the impression that there is a swindler around every corner.  I’ve met terrific consultants that are reputable, talented, and committed to helping their clients succeed.

If you need help, do your homework and work with people who have the right blend of skills to be effective.

This is a “sensitive” subject so let me know what you are thinking in the comments.

photo credit: Leeds Museums and Galleries

About Stan

Stan Smith is the Managing Director of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

5 thoughts on “5 Types of Social Media Con Artists

  1. Pingback: 5 Types of Social Media Con Artists - Pushing Social | random-work-related | Scoop.it

  2. Stanford Post author

    I don’t have a problem with a person calling themselves an expert, if they can demonstrate their expertise! That’s the problem really. People believing the sizzle rather than investigating the steak.

  3. Jessica

    The clue I always see is those who are self titled “Guru” or “Expert” and the like. If I’m that good, I’ll let others give me that nickname. The problem is that there are so many people looking to hire these types of “experts” and have no clue they are being sold the biggest bridge in the world. I came across one like this a few years ago. He claimed to do wonders with Google placement, only to discover he was just simply created Google places pages for clients. Something that takes 10 minutes and is free. I try an educate clients as much as possible to prevent them from wasting their money. Great post! Thanks for sharing it!

  4. Carmelo

    So true, Stan.

    I’m in the middle of writing an e-book on a very related subject. It’s really an epidemic. The thing is this problem is always going to be there as long as we fall for them. Like you say, it’s easy to fall for some of them. They are often well trained in the marketing end of things.

    There are just too many “experts” out there encouraging these con artists, telling them that their business is 90% marketing. This, while true in theory, gives such a horrible message to these “business people” types who just want to make a buck, be in business for themselves, and yet don’t have the experience or ability or DESIRE to deliver.

    I could go on and on but this is not my post! ha! Buyer beware. Don’t sell yourself short!


  5. Lou Rodriguez

    Honestly…Go ahead and warn us there is a “swindler” around every corner…because there is. But as you point out; you have to know what you’re looking for and these tips are invaluable!

    From the department of “my own personal” experiences, I’d like to add this one for your readers; If that person only Skype’s you, and when they do they only use a screen shot of themselves instead of using a camera even though they have 100,000 twitter followers and claim to make 6 figures a year – RUN FOR THE HILLS! :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes