Internet guru Peter Shankman posted an interesting diatribe today about so-called “Social Media Experts” and why he’d never consider hiring a person billed as such.

Social Media is just another facet of marketing and customer service. Say it with me. Repeat it until you know it by heart. Bind it as a sign upon your hands and upon thy gates. Social Media, by itself, will not help you.

via I Will Never Hire a “Social Media Expert,” and Neither Should You | Peter Shankman.

He raises a number of interesting points… the most important of which is that “social media” shouldn’t be considered an end unto itself. It’s just another way to reach your customers – like the telephone or e-mail or your website.

By the same token, each of those communication channels has its own set of challenges – and the way a business overcomes those challenges can play a big role in whether or not that business succeeds. You don’t want someone with hideous phone skills handling your incoming 800-number. You don’t want someone who can’t doesn’t know what the initials ‘S,’ ‘E’ and ‘O’ represent managing your website.

Social media creates many of the same challenges. Communicating via Twitter, for example – with its 140-character limit and own unique shorthand – is a skill.  And marketing your company via a Twitter feed creates the very real possibility that people will use your account to submit complaints and help requests.

Very public complaints and help requests.

I agree with Shankman’s primary point – that excellent marketing and customer service are far bigger priorities than the media in which they are conveyed. But inexperience in those media can garble even the best message.

If you’re thinking about using social media to build your business – and if you aren’t, you should be – take the time to consult with an expert.


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