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5 Types of Social Media Con Artists

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 CEO of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

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