Experts are dime a dozen these days. Almost everyone seems to be spouting advice on what you should and shouldn’t do on social media, who you should follow and how you should tackle challenges to become the most successful startup ever!
Superlative language laced with hyperboles grabs our attention.
However as in real life, so on the Internet, you should be selective and cautious about people offering advice.
I write quite a bit on social media and also happen to be an avid user of it. So, does that make me an expert on the topic? I might have more knowledge than the average social media user, but I’m still learning. The social media landscape is ever changing. All it takes is for Facebook or Twitter to make a single change and what works today, might not work tomorrow. However, I do research my suggestions and only speak to what has worked for me and my company.
I’m also very particular about where I get advice.
Here’s a rough checklist that you should quickly run in your mind when you encounter any self-styled expert on social media (or on any topic for that matter).
Check Their Credentials
What qualifies one as an “expert”?
Is that a degree, experience or simply an original perspective?
It could be all or any of the above, but mostly it’s a combination of factors:
- Their profile bio should state what they do and a snapshot of tweets should convey a general sense of expertise on social media.
- Do they have their own website? They must, ideally. Browse through it. Sign up and download free resources. Is it well-written and useful?
- Do they speak at events? Check out their YouTube videos.
- Are they considered influential? Why?
- Have they been writing for established websites and blogs? Read their best-rated articles and see if you agree with the views presented. Read the comments as well.
This is a good starting point.
How Do They Manage Their Social Profiles?
The proof is in the pudding.
Do they walk the talk, or do they just talk the talk?
Ok, clichés aside, this should be obvious. How is the expert who is giving suggestions on ‘5 surefire ways of attracting more followers on Twitter’ doing with their own follower count?
How many followers do they have, and more importantly, who comprises them?
It’s impressive to see a follower count that exceeds 10,000, but you might want to see who these followers are. Anyone on Twitter has been followed and DMed by those mysterious accounts that “guarantee 10K followers”. Check to see who is following them. Do they appear to be legit accounts? Do they address topics that are of concern to you? How are other people receiving their advice? Remember, you are looking for pertinent suggestions, not just any suggestions.
Look At The Conversations On Their Page
We expect an expert’s Facebook page to be rich with insights and interactions. Not all posts get a response, but most should.
What kind of comments are the followers leaving on their profile? Read in detail.
Are the followers criticizing their views or applauding them for sharing something awesome?
How Do They Engage With The Followers?
- How does this expert deal with criticism?
- How does he/she deal with rude comments?
- Do they engage in general conversation?
- Do they acknowledge comments and thank people for their time? Or are they way too busy and popular to keep track of who’s posting on their social?
- Do they answer questions specifically addressed to them? (I can think of more than one “expert” who never bothers to do this.)
- Do they take interest in what their followers post?
- Do they contribute to conversations?
You should be able to learn a lot on the topic by just observing these experts in action.
Do They Keep Up With Trends?
Because technology is an ever-changing and evolving landscape, yesterday’s advice can get old before today begins.
An expert should be on top of new developments. She should be able to put it in the right context, and explain it to the layperson as well.
Your knowledge isn’t of much use if it cannot translate into pragmatic and actionable guidance for others.
How much of the advice being presented is original and how much is regurgitated material that you have heard elsewhere?
How good a job do they do of interpreting and anticipating trends?
Do They Talk Numbers?
- Have they helped businesses actually improve their ROI as far as social media strategy is concerned?
- How did they acquire their first 10,000 followers?
- Do they consult people on social media?
- Have they implemented the lessons they share, and did they work well for them?
- Do they back their claims or suggestions with research and raw data?
- Are they affiliated with any companies?
This is important information to know.
Follow them and ask specific questions to see how they respond. The best way to find out if someone can help you is to straight up ask them about it!
It Takes Time To Master
After you have taken everything into account, refer to your own common sense and experience.
Social media can be quite a maze to navigate. What works for one company may not necessarily work for another, so at times well-meaning advice can fall flat. There are many factors involved in marketing via social.
Keep an open mind, but don’t blindly follow anyone’s directions.
This is the checklist that works for me. Your needs might vary and your perspective might be different from mine, but I do believe that on the whole an expert should lead the way forward by putting into action all that they espouse in their articles and 2am tweets.
How do you decide whose advice to entertain?