Earlier this month I came across a post on Brains on Fire called “Why You Don’t Need Social Media Consultants.” The author of the post basically says that social media is common sense and that you shouldn’t need to hire a consultant to help you essentially be yourself on social networks. From the post:
“If you listen REALLY closely to their advice, you start to realize that most of it you already know. Because you have all the basic tools you need: Your humanity. Your ability to communicate with people around you. And your intuition. Because when you think about it, using social media is just a natural extension of yourself. Asking questions. Listening. Responding. And remember, social media apps are tactics. And tactics are tools. Sure, you might need some guidance on how to use that bandsaw, but you picked up a hammer and pretty much got the gist after you hit your thumb a few times.”
I agree with the author…to an extent. I think social media is easy to grasp because I do it for a living and know the ins and outs pretty handily. However, as the post comments point out, you’d be surprised how many people have a problem with social media marketing, if not for themselves then for their business. It’s one thing to create an account on Twitter for personal use and update it with what movies you’re excited to see and what you’ll be cooking for Thanksgiving. It’s another thing to figure out the best approach and highest ROI for a company profile.
The best argument I can make pretty much echoes the one Danny Sullivan made last month when he countered Derek Powazak’s opinion that SEOs are b.s. We’ve all heard the “SEO isn’t rocket science” argument and that “all you need to do is hire a decent web developer.” In Danny’s post (read it if you haven’t yet — very eloquent), he points out various scenarios where people DO need SEO, like a real estate agent who doesn’t know how to rank for her local market, or a man who sells shipping cases and has dupe content/dynamic URL issues. Sure, all of these issues seem like a no-brainer to us, but for many business owners and webmasters, they’re hard issues to tackle without a little bit of guidance.
I think it was Danny who had a great analogy in justifying why you would hire an SEO (or SMM) consultant, which I’ll paraphrase here: “Everyone knows that you need to exercise and eat right to stay healthy and fit, so why would anyone hire a personal trainer or nutritionist?” Sure, everyone knows that in theory, but some people need the support and guidance of an expert to help them get on the right path to wellness. Other folks need a customized diet and regimen that works specifically for them and caters to their individual needs.
Look at that guy needing to hire someone to help him build muscle! What a sucker!
And that’s no different than a business hiring a social media consultant to help them determine where they need to participate and what exactly they want to say to their audience. Maybe they just need to learn the basics in order to get the ball rolling, or maybe they have an in-house social media marketer but signed on for a company-wide training led by you to help everyone else understand the importance of SMM. Or maybe they’re all well-versed with social media but need some guidance on how to roll out a contest or sweepstakes across multiple social networks. Whatever the need, lots of people still require the help of a social media consultant, whether it’s for a few quick questions or to help with a full campaign.
I argue that yeah, lots of people don’t need a social media consultant, just how lots of people don’t need SEO help to get their site ranking well, or they don’t need a personal trainer to get in shape and achieve washboard abs. But others do need help, even if on paper social media may seem like a “no-brainer.” It doesn’t mean that the company is stupid for not being able to do it themselves; if anything, it’s great that a company is able to identify an area where they’re deficient and are hiring people to help get them up to speed. Isn’t that better than complete ignorance of a situation or, worse, mishandling something because you’re too proud or cocky to hire outside help?
We work with a lot of great clients and teams of smart, successful people. Helping them with their social media efforts is extremely rewarding because we get to lend a helping hand to a variety of issues, from basic training to building customers to running advanced campaigns. Some companies and people don’t need our help, and I say good for them, but a lot of companies do need some advice and assistance, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. :)