I hate the term “social media”, mostly because I’ve seen so many companies take advantage of business owners by selling them shit services. It’s a buzzword that just gets thrown around so much these days that people think they can just hire a company that specializes in “social media” and have it work for them.

What many don’t know is a lot of these agencies and “guru expert” types are really just selling you shit. Here are a few ways to tell if they are full of it.


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1. They Only Talk/Report on “Reach” or “Influence”

Your social media consultant or guru probably gives you a fancy report every month right? If they are full of shit, they probably include reports that include the words “reach” and “influence”. Sure, these numbers look great and make you feel cool and important, but what are they really doing for your business?

Probably nothing. Impressions are meaningless if people are NOT ACTUALLY SEEING YOUR AD OR POST. It’s hard to understand this if you don’t use Facebook every day like a heavy user does. Just because an ad loads on a web page does not mean it is actually seen by anyone.

I know, because I am logged into Facebook all day, every day and I rarely ever “see” the ads that get shown to me.


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2. Only Text Updates

Oh, so you’ve hired a social media agency to post updates to Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and Google+ huh? Great!

No seriously doing that shit is a full time job. Some days I get no work done because I spend so much time following all my constantly updating feeds. It’s insane how much content gets posted. You need someone to manage and post on your behalf in some cases.

But that doesn’t mean posting crappy, meaningless updates like “Be safe in the snow today” 99% of the time. Sure, those kinds of updates have their place (especially with the winter we’re having on the East Coast). But I don’t have to tell you that updates need to have value, link to other content, include photos and videos, interact with other users, etc. If your “guru” is posting only meaningless text updates, he or she is full of shit.


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3. Focus on Followers

What’s the goal of your social media campaign? Is the main metric getting more “Likes” or “Followers”? Because those numbers mean shit.

Okay, listen. I LOVE getting new followers – especially if they are important influential people. It’s cool. But what does it really mean? Obtaining new fans is part of an ongoing strategy that ultimately can influence REAL metrics like how many new clients you get or how many products you sell. That’s where the focus needs to be. But if all you’re hearing from your social media person’s mouth is “you got 2 new likes this month”, well, tell them they are full of shit.


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4. No Control of Website

*Sheesh* this drives me bonkers. I’ve seen so many companies pay one person to handle their website and another to do “social media” and neither of the two have any form of communication with one another. You have the one party updating content and stuff over here and the other party doesn’t even know about it.

So who’s full of shit in that scenario? Both! The web designers/developers/masters should have said something to you about social media integration and communication and one of your primary goals from the social media team should be driving visits to the website and tracking them. Social Media needs to be baked into your website and it’s marketing strategy.


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5. Fake Likes & Followers

Thank god this is dying, and I’ll be the first to admit I actually did this for a client a few years ago, at their persistence. You still see the ads all the time about paying for Facebook “Likes” and Twitter Followers – and it’s all bullshit folks. If you think buying 1,000 likes is going to help your business then go right ahead.

The only thing any of these companies have done is made your number of likes or followers absolutely meaningless. At first it worked in the “fake it ’till you make it” game, where you’d get some sort of attention from legitimate people because of the # you had, but it was exploited by so many people that now that number means shit.

Now a large number of Twitter followers without some sort of reinforcing testimonials, reviews, or other signals usually throws a red flag that what you’re doing is bullshit.

NOTE: Some of my followers and Likes are bullshit too! So I know these things are worthless from experience.


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6. No Marketing Integration

This same reason could be “why your web designer is full of shit” or why “your SEO consultant is full of shit”, and that is the lack of integration in an overall marketing strategy. Seriously folks what are you doing on social media if it’s not somehow related to spreading some sort of message about your product or service?

This is where most small businesses are falling flat on their faces. Their SEO is optimizing a website that has no marketing fundamentals behind it’s message and their social media presence is spammy links and nonsense updates. Nothing is in sync and at the end of the day does nothing to help grow the business. #shit


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7. No Re-Targeting

OK settle down – there are a lot of reasons you might not be doing re-targeting. Maybe you don’t have the ad budget or you’re not even ready for paid ads just yet, I get that. Your social media person, however, should at least be offering it or talking about it.

Re-Targeting is where social media advertising starts to make ACTUAL sense and is so awesome. Ask your team what they are doing on the re-targeting side of things, how it can fit into your campaign, what kinds of tools or networks they are using. If they can’t answer those questions, they are probably – you guessed it, full of shit.


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8. Flavor-of-the-Month Marketing

Remember Foursquare? I do, and when everyone started name-dropping the service I kept my mouth shut and decided to pass jumping on it immediately. As I often do, I tend to wait things out a little but before charging clients money to jump on some social media bandwagon.

That’s not to say that you don’t want to be late for the party. I saw the potential of Google+ right out the gate. Pinterest has it’s place in certain types of businesses. But not every single new social network or platform needs to be integrated into your business. If you’re paying for Vine videos to get made every day to promote your plumbing business, you’re probably paying for a social media service that’s a bunch of bullshit.


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9. Not Getting “You” Involved

I mentioned earlier that many simply cannot be in charge of managing their social media full time – it’s a ton of work to do! But that doesn’t mean it should entirely be in the hands of a company or consultant without your or your businesses control or input.

You should be following the feeds, looking at the content that is being shared, and offering feedback on things. You should be involved in the creative process behind the “voice” that’s being used, where the information is coming from, and how the message is spread.

Otherwise your social media presence will be just shit.


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10. They Only Sell Social Media Services

Social media by itself is shit. As part of a marketing strategy, however, it can be very powerful. Agencies and consultants that ONLY provide your “social media” services that involve posting stupid shit to Twitter all day are not going to get you anywhere.
They need to understand content, copyrighting, SEO, analytics, advertising, research, and many other marketing fundamentals and principles to create effective strategies and campaigns. If social media is all they sell, they’re probably just trying to sell you shit.