You may have missed it, but there was a wonderful article on December 3rd in BusinessWeek about social media “experts” being snake oil salesmen. It’s something those of us at agencies have wrestled with from day one – the combination of not having a job with the ability to self-publish and self-promote has opened the door for unqualified, inexperienced, ill-informed people to give advice and make claims without any evidence to back those claims up. And in the old days of PR that was the game – the more coverage the better. Although the game has changed a lot of people haven’t — credence and credibility, just or unjust, are or were given to those with the most readers or followers while those of us in the trenches, actually working on client business, were left on the sidelines to defend our business from “experts” writing baseless theories and best practices based on their personal experience using the then-explosion in social media tools. Add to the fact that the reality of communities is that someone jumps out and leads. It’s human nature, nothing new there. However in the online world, as in with real communities, when there’s a leader there are followers. It’s a perpetual cycle that builds upon itself, while those of us tied to NDAs sit quietly, until someone dissents and calls “Bullshit!” on the situation — which is exactly what BusinessWeek did.
A friend who works at a large firm, is brilliant and is also fed up recently said, “Never confuse visibility for talent.” Now that’s the truth.