Social Media Gurus – Do they really exist?

This question has plagued me this past year as I have come across many “social media experts” and “social media gurus” on LinkedIn, who all claim that they can a) help grow your readership, b) increase brand awareness, and/or c) increase revenue. But what makes them these so-called “experts” or “gurus”?

Not to offend anyone, but I caution many of you to take these titles with a grain of salt. While the idea of social media has been around for a long time (i.e. – forums, blogs, discussion boards, etc…), social networks like Twitter or Facebook are still in their infant stages and are ever-changing. Can someone really claim to be an expert?

Because of the success of these networks and visibility that these sites provide, businesses everywhere feel that they need to jump on the social media bandwagon. But is it really a necessity? Many are fooled into thinking that the more followers or “fans” you have, the more successful your business becomes. I’ve seen a lot of snake oil tactics and false promises prey on this belief:

– gain 1000 followers for $xxx
– learn the secrets of social media
– become an social media expert yourself

Excuse me while I vomit a little…

Don’t buy into any of the crap. If you’re looking for the REAL experts, they’ll have proven track records, readily available references, will discuss your ROI and strategy, and will be honest about failed attempts. There is no sure-fire way to approach social media and I think it involves plenty of a/b testing to see what works for you. If you’re looking to hire someone to help with your campaign, make sure that they can substantiate their claims and produce results.

I myself am still trying to figure out what works. I simply know how to setup Facebook pages and create Twitter profiles, and link them together. However, what I do understand is that social media should be taken for what it is: A way to be more Social via Media.

Don’t just post promotional items, ads, or special discounts. Just like the tons of Farmville updates I see in my News Feed, they’re getting ignored.

Social media expert or not, what tactics have you tried that seem to work for you?