If you know more than 5 people, chances are you now know someone who declares themselves a social media expert. How can you tell if someone’s claim of expertise is legit? Here’s my quick quiz. Ask each question and take the appropriate action:
1: Do you have a blog?
If the expert answers ‘no’, that may be OK. Follow up with something like ‘Oh, you’re using Posterous instead?’. If they look at you blankly, end the meeting there. No sense wasting your time.
If the expert answers ‘yes’, get the address and go look. If they’ve been blogging for less than 2-3 years, and there’s no explanation like “I had to move my blog”, again, end the meeting.
Any social media expert has been somehow participating in the conversation for a long time.
2: When did you start in social media?
“6 months ago”. Yeah. OK. Bye.
“2 years ago”. Hey, not bad. Worth a chat.
“In 1992″. Er. Um. They’d better be referencing BBSes and Usenet.
3: What is social media?
“Blogging and Twitter and stuff”. Excuse yourself for a bathroom break and don’t come back.
“All of the conversations going on between people and people and businesses and such online”. Not bad.
“A trendy term to describe a new kind of mass media”. Totally acceptable.
4: How do you build an audience?
“I auto-follow 20,000 people on Twitter”. If you’re OK with it, kick them in the groin for me. If not, nod politely and move on.
“I follow interesting, relevant people on Twitter, comment on relevant blog posts and try to get into the conversation”. Home run. Try not to weep with joy.
“We need to figure out the campaign first”. Good answer. Give them a hypothetical campaign to be sure, but clearly you’re on the right track.
5: Do you offer a guarantee?
“Yes, I’ll get you 1000 links and 20,000 clicks”. See number 7, first action.
“Yes, that I’ll work my butt off for you”. I like it.
“No, because we’re marketing to people, and it’s hard to say what they’ll like/not like, or what might happen in the world that will affect behaviour”. Also good.
6: How did you learn all this stuff?
“Oh, I read this book I bought from Amazon.com”. Wargh. By the time that book went to print it was out of date. No go.
“I’m always learning”. Good answer.
“I read a lot of blogs, and try to use as many different tools as I can”. Also good.
“I go to conferences”. Yeahhhhhh. Might be OK. Answers to the other 9 questions should tell you.
10: How does social media impact SEO?
“It doesn’t”. Slap them
“It builds links”. That’s half the answer.
“It builds relationships that turn into links later”. HIRE THEM NOW.
Bonus question: How often do you write?
“I hate writing”. Cough.
“Oh, I try to but I don’t have much time”. Cough. Cough.
“Every day”. DING DING DING. A winner!
There you go. An instant social media expert evaluator. Sort of like a Cylon Detector, but hopefully more effective.
By the way, print a copy of this. If you get word-for-word answers, you might think twice.