Gary Vaynerchuck made headlines recently with a statement that 99.5% of social media consultants are clowns. In an interview with TechCrunch, he made the statement, and then explained it in more detail at his own site, at the link.
I'm with Gary in some respects. Quite a few people calling themselves social media consultants are clowns - I've oft repeated my personal statistic that 80% of the people I've talked to have never taken a check, and a large percentage of the others are taking piddling checks that amount to a few hundred or thousand dollars to do nothing.
Gary is trying to improve the industry, and he's right that failures and snake-oil salesman are a problem.
And yet, clown is a pretty strong word. It suggests an unseriousness, when the problem is really a lack of experience in general business, and a lack of experience in how to get things done at the corporate level. I've actually never met or spoken with anyone that is a snake oil salesman. I've read some pretty shady training bloggers who came from the affiliate world, buy that's as close as I've been. Most of the unpaid or inexperienced are just naive, and hopeful, that what they've read on other sites will make them rich or famous or just give them a job.
So it's sad, but not clown-sad. It's not intentional. They really just don't know that managers and line workers and developers and designers have no clue what they're doing in social business. And it's not just social business.
How many web developers, of any language, understand SEO? We're not talking about the abilty to be crawled by spiders - that's child's play. We're talking about building a site with an SEO strategy in mind to convert traffic to an action. If you think it's more than 10%, I have a bridge to sell you.
How many copywriters understand what it takes to convince retail salespeople to speak up for a product or program? Would you call 99.5 % of them clowns?
How many VP's of marketing for billion dollar companies know what a hashtag is and have ever used one? Clowns? Or differently skilled?
The disconnect between social business results and social consultants is a function of the marketing/PR/SEO/customer service/corporate world, not a problem with the social media folks specifically. They only know where they came from. Social media is so much bigger than their niche, is anyone surprised they are lost?
We all know television advertising is overrated - why does social media come in for such scorn when television advertising is so much worse? It's just hazing of a new discipline.
So I applaud Gary for speaking the truth, but wonder how we can actually move forward. I've got some ideas about how to judge someone. We'll let you know later this week, no matter if we decide to do it or not.