Is it just me or has there become a resident social media expert on every corner?! Not to be SLIGHTLY PESSIMISTIC friends but I think we would all be a bit remiss if we do not acknowledge that the qualities these new experts typically have in common are the 50 or so specializations they had pre-Facebook, which were one for every fad!

All I am saying is ask yourself what specific value you are getting before you go out and hire anyone for any sort of social media marketing service(s).

Moreover, with the massive generational divide when it comes to computer literacy the problem is even more pronounced.

Let’s be frank. Even knowing the very basics of using the most simple online communication and sharing tools like social networks; Facebook, Google Plus, Digg, etc somehow has led to the acceptable notion that you’re an expert because you know how to login and use the tools. BUT DO YOU?

Where are the metrics? Whose tracking it!!! Sorry for the exclamation points friends but often I want to that scream out at the top of my lungs. If you’re a novice, let alone a professional, there is NO EXCUSE for not doing everything in your power to measure and identify the results are of your social media marketing and advertising. If your social media expert doesn’t mention Google Analytics in the first 20 minutes of discussion, I’d move on!

How did we get to a place where we aren’t measuring our results or where they aren’t the most important consideration? Hmm… it’s as if everyone was stuck on there Facebook pages for the last 5 years screaming, HEY LOOK AT ME! (Maybe they were). I’d argue that anytime there is a situation where a massive leap in technology has made for as many rapid winners and losers, while a vacuum of irresponsible fascination has kept the masses pre-occupied; buying the virtual kool-aid, and funding the blue skies of bad business models; it becomes pretty darn interesting. At least it is to me.

Over the course of the last few years, there has begun to be a shift away from the blue sky towards establishing real business models that work; the bottom line has come back into focus. However, as that has occurred and as software to measure performance of online marketing has been more widely adopted, these self-appointed ’social media experts’ / expert narcissists continue to grow in numbers. So much so that I now think their may be 1 on every American city block. Well that’s the reason for this post. So together let’s take a look at this, ‘Social Media Expert Phenomemon’, how it occurred, and what you might be missing if you hire one without asking some basic questions.

  1. First of all, the tools for online marketers / digital marketing for both small business and online brand marketers are relatively new. As far as measurements of social media marketing and mobile advertising specifically the tools are brand new. The internet, social networking websites and social media have evolved so fast that things are changing daily.

QUICK EXAMPLES:.

Just in the last few weeks Google Places was replaced with Google + Local and Facebook has just started Promoted Posts! These are not metrics or methods by which we measure results but they are major changes and it takes time to both learn the changes and then adjust and measure advertising campaigns and social media elements of an overall marketing campaign. As a side note, these are both major indications that finally local small businesses and mom and pops are beginning to adopt and use social media and that they are seeing measurable results from it. THAT’S EXCITING and another reason why we need to push for promotion of using metrics as well as identify the skill sets and properly designate what deems someone an expert in online marketing and social media. Before I delve deeper into this let me just say this.

Yes, we have actually designed many succesful marketing campaigns and laid out detailed budgets with social media components that are integrated into those overall plans. We’ve also obviously designed and used in context ads, keyword ads, mobile ads, social network advertising / Facebook ads, ad networks and site exclusive sponsorships. However, we still do not consider ourselves EXPERTS.

Anyway, to carry on with identifying for you the evolution of adoption in usage of metrics as well as the best ways to measure metrics, as far as what really constitutes an expert in social media, it is someone who is very, very advanced in practice with using ALL THE TOOLS online advertising ad types, ad tools, metric tools, and can use them in conjunction with development and implementation of a social media campaign. We believe if the bar is not set high then there is little confidence in the outcome. Over time that affects the value of the services we provide in the eyes of our customers. Our goal is not to be the cheapest, but rather to be amongst the best.

The fact is, there are really VERY FEW EXPERTS OUT THERE, at least in contrast to the amount of companies that needs experts in this discipline.

The technology is just moving so fast and the metrics are all so new that keeping up with it is a daunting task. (Don’t mistake that for an excuse…read on)

For example. Googles new brand marketing initiative, Active View, Active GRP, and Brand Impact Survey Pilot were just introduced as concepts. The first two are now active with the Brand Impact Survey Pilot coming online soon. These tool are aimed at giving brand marketers a way to better employ online advertising metrics on a much larger scale in order to better measure value of their ad buys in terms of actual impressions on CPM based networks. (C.P.M. simple refers to cost per thousands views)

Here’s a little info on the Active GRP from Google. (Keep in mind it’s brand new.)

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The other tool that individuals and organizations of all types and sizes use is Google Analytics, often referred to as simply G.A.. G.A. obviously just stands for Google Analytics. Check out the Internet Marketing Terms tab on Portland Social Media and you too can be an expert. We’ll even make you a plaque for just $ 39.95! (J/k)

Anyway, Google Analytics, in it’s very short history has very quickly become the #1 method by which people perform statistical analysis of their online marketing performances. (1) MetricMail reports that Google Analytics market share represents 49.5% of the market share as far as Analytics tools. Clearly they are the market leader and with the only free solution in the league, Google Analytics is poised to be even more dominant as far as industry wide usage down the line. (More on Google Analytics below)

What I am driving at is, a “Social Media Expert” must first be a seasoned online marketing professional and understand a marketing plan from the very foundational structure it is built upon. If you’re looking to hire someone to help your small or large business with Social Media you should:

  1. Know the experience level of your social media marketing guru, in all respects related to marketing and not just social media.
  2. Make sure you know that she or he knows intimately the advertising platforms, ad types, ad networks.
  3. Make sure you and they are using metrics such as Google Analytics before, during, and when your incorporating your advertising campaign with your social media marketing campaign.

It’s all about metrics: Google Analytics is your friend!

Tips: When you’re talking with Social Media service providers you may often discover you should really be talking to online or digital advertising firms. Why? The truth is you’ll be surprised at how 99% of these, “Social Media Experts” have little to no actual experience with running large-scale advertising campaigns. This can make you the REAL guinea pig in their virtual world. Moreover, you’ll also shocked to know that many social media marketing gurus also have little operational experience with G.A.. This is a scary reality if your organization is spending a lot of money to venture blindly into the unknown, looking for the unquantifiable!

Anyway, before I go any further, as a HUGE PROPONENT of all organizations using Google Analytics, I just want to share more about G.A. with you as far as why it is so important to take the time to learn the tools and use them in measuring the effectiveness of your social media and marketing efforts in general. As far as ways to measure the activity and performance of a website, there were and still are other premium analytics tools out there from Abode and others, but never before has something as advanced and free been available to everyone. It’s an equivalent to opening the curtain and letting the light into your business. Without sounding like a commercial let me just say your crazy if you have a website and you’re not using it.

History of Google Analytics and what it offers

Google Analytics came about as one of the hundreds of acquisitions that Google, Inc has made since it’s inception. Urchin Software Corp. was where the technology first came from but clearly what they had then has been vastly built upon and then virtually reinvented with later enhancements. The Google Analytics service was first called Urchin on Demand. There was subsequently another acquisition by Google, Inc of Adaptive Path, Inc. who had a product called Measure Map. This product was integrated and used in what was the first major redesign of Google Analytics in 2006. Google Analytics was actually first available just 7 short years ago in late 2005. It actually came out in November 2005 but at that time, due to high demand a lottery system was used in order to get free access and start using the system.

Major developments of Google Analytics, besides the reintroduction and offering of service to all, free of charge, whether they advertise on Google or not, were a major 2006 redesign and asynchronous tracking codes which do two things. They improve page loads times and they are also way more accurate partially due to the first factor. Also noteworthy accomplishments off Google Analytics are the major redesign that took place in April 2011 which added features such as multiple dashboards, enhanced custom reports, real-time analytics and goal flow charts. Now we have social, mobile, and advertising analytics as well as premium analytics for larger advertisers.

So that sounds difficult and complex? Trust me, it’s not! I am actually infatuated with Google Analytics. So much so that last year I started writing a how to guide on using Google Analytics. That Google Analytics How To Manual will be available in Ebook format shortly on both iTunes and Amazon for the Kindles as well as the Nook at Barnes and Noble. However, I am not here to pitch my Google Analytics Ebook at all. The Google Analytics main screen and overall system makes it easy for you to use the tool, you just have to take a little time to study and practice using the features on your own. If your still frustrated or want to get a thorough explanation of how to use Google Analytics including the very latest features you have the link above.

The point I want to drive home to readers is this: Vet your Social Media Guru! Remember that old bumper sticker that said, “Who are you and who appointed you boss?” EXACTLY WHAT I AM GETTING AT…. These self-appointed experts lead to distribution of misinformation and give others a bad name. They also by their adoption of the title social media manager or social media marketing manager reinforce the very idea that the term, Social Media is in fact a fad.

Next time you run into someone at a social media tweetup or social media meetup that says they are a social media manager, stop and simply ask them what Social Media is? They’ll probably say something like, “Well it is everything”. No actually social media is not everything. Social media is an activity that consists of verbal and written communications between two or more people. Media refers to platforms to conduct that activity. There are web-based platforms and mobile based platforms. Anytime an exchange occurs online between any such media platform it can be referred to as, “Social media”. Therefore this loose definition means your social media expert may in fact know just two things.

  1. How to type (Oh and how to add friends and look popular)
  • and evidently they also have figured out how get online. Pretty sophisticated right?

Do you see what I am getting at? Slightly ubiquitous right?

Here is what I find utterly fascinating. Social Media, in order to be effective typically requires a purchase of advertising, you know an actual advertising budget which is part of the overall marketing plan. This is this gasoline that powers the engine. There’s a detailed process that social media marketing campaigns go through typically inside a larger marketing plan that makes advertising and social media work together. Sometime they become one in the same.

However, in order to run a successful online marketing campaign that incorporates a Social Media Marketing element into your advertising and overall marketing plans you need to have at least a fundamental understanding and good working knowledge of what the advertising options are. Something that again a great majority of these social media experts lack.

This knowledge that any social media expert should have includes what typos of advertising actually exist, such as:

Thereafter ones needs to be able determine who the networks are and how they differ. Then one needs to be able to analyze what are the reaches for each provider in each ad type arena. What are the costs and tools available on the backend? Which ad types and ad providers have access to data giving you the ability to target ads to specific demographics. Which networks do not, meaning all the advertising is blind…that is unless your know which ad networks tailor themselves to content where they can measure audience therefore establish what the demographics are of those that will see if your ad, if you advertise with that network.

Not to mention that many of the free methods run very close to being in direct violation of best practices. So what I want to get across is that you should really make sure you’ve taken a top down look at how your overall marketing plan by incorporating advertising and social media together in such a way that you can get the very best use of social media.

Ask yourself: Are their buried treasures as far as very cheap ad that you have not run across? Usually the answer to this question is yes. Online advertising competition is FIERCE! The reality is that may of the biggest companies in America and the world are currently making some of the dumbest online advertising decisions possible. This is true with both general brand marketing as well as advertising specifically in the realm of directing traffic to boost a social media campaigns. The CPM’s they are paying in many cases are outrageous. above $10 is not uncommon! If Stakeholders realized how much money they could be saving by using better strategies such as trying out emerging ad types and platforms and by going direct to sites by cutting out ad networks, ad executives would be in for an earful.

What qualities does it take to be a Social Media Marketing Professional

Typically, besides a formal business educational background a Social Media Manager or Social Media Marketing Professional will have studied a blend of disciplines including social sciences, marketing (business), and she or he will at least a decent grasp on technology, as well as understand how to operate Google Analytics in order to measure and improve upon the data that G.A. provides.

Anyway, that’s all for now. BUYER BEWARE if you hire a Social Media Marketing Manager make sure you both agree what expertise and experience they should have.