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SEO and social media: everyone’s an expert

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If, like me, you have keen interest in the world of social media, it’s likely that you’ll be connected to plenty of people on Twitter and LinkedIN. But have you noticed any so-called social media or SEO ‘experts’ in your networks?

Defining expertise

In a fast-paced industry like digital marketing, you’re on dangerous ground if you claim to be an expert – it’s a world that’s all about collaboration, sharing ideas and genuinely open debate. New developments are revealed almost hourly, and so many people are desperate to claim the tastiest slice of the social media pie for themselves – from CEOs to PR and marketing professionals to celebrities.

In an environment like this, I can’t help but remain dubious about what these so-called ‘experts’ really have to offer. I’m right behind online writer Lance Winslow when he says:"Beware the man who calls himself an expert or attempts to conveniently modify the definition to be self-inclusive."

What’s in a name?

Unfortunately the folly doesn’t end there. In the last two days alone I’ve noticed agencies advertising vacancies for ‘social media gurus‘ and ‘internet marketing geniuses‘. Perhaps it’s a sign of the times, or maybe it’s a case of a progressive industry trying to differentiate itself from the rest of the marketplace; but exactly who and what they’re looking for remains unclear.

Hyperbolic job titles have also given life to a new group of spammers who use them to convince companies they are trustworthy. But does it all come down to a name?

I’m sure Coast Digital is not the only digital marketing agency to get bombarded with emails from people who want to use their supposed expertise to improve our online presence. If only they’d visit our website, they’d realise it’s what we do – day in, day out – and that we’re good at it.

The difficulty with spotting fraudulent specialists is that SEO is a long-term strategy. This means it can take months before you begin to see measurable results. Of course, the phonies rely on this fact and they reap the profits for a few months before anyone even notices they may not be what they claim.

Ones to watch

So how do you distinguish the legitimate specialists from the swindlers? Who should you trust to look after your online presence and manage your digital marketing activities? One sure-fire way to find an agency that you can trust is to look to reputable independent sources, like New Media Age and its Top 100 interactive agencies list, or the Sunday Times Tech Track 100 (we’re in both of them).

But whoever you do put your trust in, make sure they offer marketing you can measure and can confidently answer all of your questions. Most importantly, though, they should be able to demonstrate that they’ve walked the walk hand-in-hand with other clients, not just talked the talk to anyone that will listen.

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