Years ago when Yahoo, yes Yahoo, dominated the search landscape and SEO was the “in” thing, everyone suddenly became “SEO experts” overnight. Then Google took over and their algorithm grew more complex over the years. The experts slowly died off because getting on the first page of Google wasn’t as easy anymore.

Dar forward about a decade later and the same thing happened (and still happening) with social media. A quick search for “social media expert” in Google reveals some interesting trends. Consultants, agencies, bloggers (many of whom who have roots in SEO) are all vying for the number on position in Google, both paid and natural. Today, the “social media expert” comes a dime a dozen and the market is surely over-saturated with them. But the truth is, “social media marketing” is now a commodity skill set. Every digital and PR agency and even the traditional management consultancies all have in house social media expertise at some level or at least trying to establish themselves.

However, the current state of business is calling for something different. Social media marketing has actually caused a bit of chaos behind the firewall. Companies are now trying to figure out and work through several challenges that social media has caused within their organizations.

Marketing is trying to be relevant, build community and scale globally. Messaging, content, multiple social media channels, and measurement continue to be a struggle. Customer support is trying to solve customer problems online and not doing a very good job at it. Operations wants to improve business processes to be more efficient. HR is hiring, firing and dealing with employees who have a hard time behaving on the Internet. Supply chain wants to get their products to market faster. IT is pissed because they have to deal with “rogue” micro-sites and technology decisions made by marketing. Both PR and marketing want to control the “social media” job function and the list goes on. And to top it off, there is zero collaboration between of these people.

Enter the Social Business Expert.

Of course, the battle for social business thought leadership is well under way. Many digital and PR agencies are now offering “social business” types of services to their clients. Others are writing books, blog posts, publishing white papers, infographics, platforms, etc. Over the last few months, I’ve been monitoring “social business, socialbiz, socbiz, social organization) in Twitter, and the feed doesn’t stop.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a good thing.

It’s good because many of these discussions will continue to drive the industry forward with new concepts, frameworks and methodologies being established. It’s good because meaningful discussion usually gives birth to thought leadership; and what’s the point to social media-blogging-tweeting without sharing what you know with others. It’s a good thing because the “snake oil” experts will most likely wither back under their rocks because they lack real world, practical experience; and will eventually run out of things to talk about.

Don’t be surprised if we see an over-saturation in the market of social business experts, social business white papers, social business blog posts, social business tweets and social business conferences. Given the Altimeter study just released yesterday, it’s clear that there is a need for this type of counsel, education and learning.

Wait … before you hire an agency or a social business consultant.

It doesn’t matter if you hire a PR agency, a digital agency or a traditional management consultancy. And, don’t spend too much time reviewing LinkedIn profiles examining their educational background. Here is one piece of advice for those who are seeking help with social business planning and initiatives. Choose wisely, ask questions, seek recommendations and hire people, consultants, agencies that have real-world, practical experience working for or in the enterprise. The business is at stake, not just a marketing campaign.

Posted by Felix Erlichman



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