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99% of Social Media Experts are Clowns - Gary Vaynerchuk

(latest e-mail from our friend Bryan of SoCal Action Sports Network and LinkedOC who had an interesting interview with Gary Vaynerhuk)


Hi everyone,

Hope you're surviving trade show hell...

Gary Vaynerchuk, who actually is a real social media expert, recently weighed in on the state of social media during a now famous Tech Crunch interview when he said, "99% of social media experts are clowns." I caught up with the Gary in a rare interview and from what I've seen--especially in SoCal, I agree.

*There are 2 halves of this interview--both are well worth watching, but video #2 explains why most social media experts are frauds...

Beware of anyone who calls themselves a "social media expert" or some form thereof...


State of the industry...

If you haven't heard, there's this thing called the Internet that's really catching on. But there's a very interesting dichotomy with the current economy and the plethora of social platforms.

A lot of people have lost their jobs from the start of the downward spiral in the economy in 2008 to the present day. But as the economy reaches new lows, the social web continues to evolve and spiral upwards to new heights.

The result is that many of these out-of-work people have jumped on the social media bandwagon with little or zero marketing experience--not to mention a lack of social media management skills or any campaign track record. And yet they call themselves "social media experts" leading hopeful businesses that need new customers urgently astray.

These so-called experts are often transplants from mature industries hit hard by the economy like agency account execs, designers, product dev or lower level grunts from the larger retailers or apparel OEM's. They think that knowing what to do and how to set things up on social media platforms qualifies them to help businesses market their products or services. And they often make promises they can't keep to vulnerable clients desperate for new biz like a guarantee of  "thousands of new fans or followers."

I've personally met a lot of these folks and they are growing in numbers here in SoCal. They mean well and have good intentions and don't set off to misguide the companies who hire them. They themselves are eagerly trying to stay afloat in a bad economy and make ends meet. But as nice as many of these people are you should be very careful about whom you give the wheel to drive your business and be the voice of your brand.

This is a young, fast-moving space. Are there really any experts (yet), especially in SoCal?

We have a big (little) tech community that's good at making chips and other stuff and plenty of surfers and skaters, but we're not even on the map for social media innovation. Most people haven't even heard of Google+. The real hot spots are the Bay Area, NYC, Austin, Boston...

A few stats: Facebook: is on pace to reach 1 billion users by the end of this year. I also read last week that 50% of North America signs in to Facebook every day. Wow! But don't forget about the explosion of Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr, and the flavor of the week in social media.

Here's some advice from Gary about what to ask the next "expert" before you hire them.

1. What have you actually done?
Have your next social media person show you 5 or more marketing plans they've written. Ask them for case studies from 5 or more social media campaigns they have done over the past twelve months. Gary talks about "dirt under your fingernails" as a good thing...

2. What is your marketing background?
Find out about their level of experience in the area or project you're asking them to do. Sounds like common sense, but there are a lot of for PR interns and lower level agency peeps who claim they can change your world. On that note, there are also a lot of former pro action sports athletes in the VP of Marketing position at the big brands too who've never created a marketing plan...

3. Beware of the Over promise.
If the person you're considering promises big numbers fast, they are probably a fraud. You can buy more Facebook fans on Amazon, but what's that worth? Zero. Most of the real experts say social media is not a silver bullet. It's good for something things and not for others. For example, great for listening and engaging to make new business relationships.

4. Low Social Proof.
Does your experts say they can change your world but only have 90 Twitter followers who never @reply? Do they manage a Facebook page for a friend that has 10,000 fans but zero fan posts? Watch out.

5. Young Does Not Qualify You.
There seems to be a common misconception that just because someone is 20-something they are better suited to be a marketer--AND execute social media, than someone older. Age has nothing to do with it. It's about skills. It's about experience. It's about results.

6. Watch and Listen to Reactions to This Post.
It's bold to call out a large group of people and basically say they are frauds. But remember this: those who are guilty here will be the most defensive and offended--because the truth is hard to swallow! The truly talented marketers will applaud this post and take comfort in their own skills.

Weigh in and let me know what you think about all this. Do you have any success stories with any of these newly self-crowned experts? Any horror stories?

The best way to reach me fast is Twitter or email.


FacebookFacebook TwitterTwitter LinkedInLinkedIn DiggDigg MySpaceMySpace

 Bryan Elliott
 Founder, SoCal Action Sports Network

Tel. (714) 318-6086

Views: 158

Tags: Bryan Elliott, Gary Vaynerchuk, behind the brand, charles kim, the thank you economy


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Comment by Charles Kim on August 16, 2011 at 7:50pm
For sure...would love to catch up...I will be at Driving Sales and JD Power...not sure about DD.  And regarding ROI, I never said anything about guaranteeing ROI...just have a sound assumption/strategy/plan that lays out what that is and how it is measured.  When we do a mid-cycle refresh on a vehicle, there is an ROI calculation and projection.  Same thing with a dealership facility, having spent a lot of time in market rep (franchising) putting dealers in, taking them out, relocating them, consolidating them, and building new facilities, we did a lot of analyses on the ROI of a facility renovation or new build.  It goes back to first determining what the goal(s) of the investment is, and then calculating the return.  Brand equity and sales are definitely impacted by a new facility.  Brand awareness...not so much, unless it is a relocation.  New facilities can also increase productivity and efficiency, reduce wear and tear and maintenance, etc., all of which further improve the ROI.  But regarding Chevy, without knowing what that $1M investment average is doing, I couldn't tell you whether or not that is a good spend or not.  I know dealers that spend $10,000,000+ and crush it on ROI, while others spend $200,000 and get zero bang-for-the-buck.  Both cases were the outcomes of good and bad planning.
Comment by Tom Gorham on August 16, 2011 at 3:57pm
Thank you for the infite Charles.  If I go to any of those, I will look you up.  I think what you are describing is a no-risk world and I don't think we live in one of those.  If we did, there would be no investment in new ideas.  You can't guaranty an ROI on everything you do, but dealers can and do invest in new ideas hoping to get a jump on their competition and land in a sweet spot.  Minimal investment = minimal risk.  Is it a gamble?  I think using good judgement and an educated guess, it's usually a better gamble than the roulette wheel.  90% of Chevy dealers are doing madatory $1 million plus rennovations on their buildings.  No one seems to know the ROI on that.  If it doesn't improve ROI, I gues they'll just eat it.  But it truly is an investment... in staying in business.
Comment by Charles Kim on August 16, 2011 at 2:20pm
BTW, you guys going to Driving Sales, Digital Dealer, or JD Power in a couple months?  If so, hope to meet up then over a drink!
Comment by Charles Kim on August 16, 2011 at 2:17pm
And trying a bunch of things out with no plan and projected ROI, and seeing which one works is not investing...that is called gambling.  I do that all the time in Vegas when I play roulette...just throw a bunch of chips down on a whim and cross my fingers! =)
Comment by Charles Kim on August 16, 2011 at 2:16pm
In a world of 2% ROS, every dollar you spend matters.  Spending $1,000, $5,000, or more on social media content/personnel/equipment/etc. is not a wise marketing spend for a vast majority of dealers compared to other forms of digital/traditional marketing.  If a marketing or business plan doesn't even have a projected ROI, then it isn't a plan.  For example, I'm an advisor to a company that will literally be worth billions if/when the concept proves out.  But even with such a strong potential, go try to get VC or investor money with no projected ROI.  And if by some miracle you get that money, see what happens when you miss that projected ROI because you didn't have solid basis/foundation behind it.  THAT is what really matters when you have a stake in the bottom line like a dealer principal or general manager.  I go back to something I said a while time a social media expert wants your dealership's business, ask them to do it on a contingency basis, and see what happens...
Comment by Tom Gorham on August 15, 2011 at 5:03pm
BTW Thomas, I'm sure you held on to your first born child... you're a very smart man.
Comment by Tom Gorham on August 15, 2011 at 4:59pm

Thomas, you know I have great respect for you.  We have talked many times before.  I come from a business that is known for "What have you done for me lately?" from the top on down.  My statement wasn't a personal slight.  Far be it.  But I have seen marketing companies flounder in the past few years, so I am cautious at accepting the term "marketing experts" at face value anymore. 

I think every dealer or business owner has to question the obvious, how is the marketing agency adapting to the radical changes in the marketplace.  And since there are very obvious disagreements as to how to do so, the dealer or owner has to make a judgement (that he may or may not be personally qualified to make) as to where he stands on the subject.

I know you live and breathe this business and I love it too.  This is my passion.  And when you have those results, I'll be standing in line to receive them.  I will "eat them up!"  Thanks my friend.

Comment by Thomas A. Kelly on August 14, 2011 at 7:15pm
I was Vice President, Director of Marketing for Compak Inc, President and co-founder of Webcor Packaging Inc. I engineered, built and patented a process to allow four conventional manufacturing operations to work as one continuous machine (U.S. patent #4561581). We designed, manufactured and marketed packaging to several top automotive manufactures including Chevrolet, Buick, AC Delco, GM Parts Div., TRW, Lear Seating, etc. Many of our designs required large capital expense(new packaging lines to accommodate our designs) by the manufacturers I sold to. I had to prove ROI to my clients beyond any doubt. AC Delco spent 13 million 1981 dollars on an Air Cleaner assembly line to accomodate my new design air cleaner box that could only be manufactured at a reasonable cost using my patented process. You better believe there was some serious number crunching going on. They wanted my first born child as collateral...everything had to work as planned or we were on the street. Some of the old timers may remember when AC's air cleaners were in a solid fiber box and then changed to a corrugated box... What have I done lately?, not as much as I would like for sure. I think, all of it's sub domains, the 132 micros, their lead management system, online sales process, its SEO are respectable. Everything it is due in large part from my education on this and other forums. I left the IMD position about a year ago. I currently plan events for the store which has allowed me more time to work on a marketing project related to our industry with four of my five sons. I am hoping I have the ability to get another base hit or two before my time runs out. I live this business, I love marketing. I'll report my results to you Tom as soon as I have some lol!
Comment by Tom Gorham on August 14, 2011 at 5:11pm
BTW, and no offense to anyone, but #2. What is your marketing background?  Hmm, considering that most marketing companies are living in the past, and those who are not are experimenting like you and me, that's a no-brainer.  Who cares?  I would ask, what results can you show me lately?
Comment by Tom Gorham on August 14, 2011 at 5:06pm
Just for fun, check out what I wrote in Winds of Change..

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