Is Your Social Media Consultant a Groupie, Chatty Cathy, or Strategist?

I would say that 65% of the social media consultants that I know talk too damn much. They are jet setting, twittering every couple minutes, going to tweet ups, talking to groups of 2nd graders about the power of social, launching twebinars and all that other useless CRAP.

Take a second marketing managers, if you are hiring a social media consultant, the more time they spend @'ing people all day, talking to their tweeps, going to tweetups, etc the LESS time they are spending growing your brand and monitoring your brand - a balance should be struck. I track my time like a banshee and personally monitor my non-SEO efforts so I know when I get out of balance

So I decided to give you some tools to do some investigative checking on your social media consultants with some tips on how to interpret what you find from these tools. Problem #1 – Your Social Media Consultant is a groupie and not a strategist


How does your social media consultant becoming a groupie of people like Gary V, Chris Brogan, Geoff Livingston, Mari Smith, etc help YOU, yeah you, you know the person that pays for them to monitor your brand online? Following is fine, mutual professional respect is great too, but being a groupie to anyone who puts their pants on one leg at a time is crazy.

You think you've got a social media groupie? Here's some things to do to find out.

Drop their name into Google Image Search & Flickr search. If most pictures of them are with other people, drinking at parties, cheesing for the camera with any web celebrity and showing other groupie behavior, you might want to think twice.

I took a big name person (who will remain nameless) who is doing social media for some big brands and 50% of his/her pictures were of this person acting very groupie like – If I need to trust my social media budget, I'd prefer the quiet strategic type vs the “look how popular I am type” anyday.

One person who breaks the heck out of this rule is Tamar Weinberg, lots of pics but she's a superstar in her own right, so a lot of people want to take pictures WITH her, its the price of stardom but she's not seeking it.

Problem #2 – Identifying a Chatty Cathy social media consultant?

Remember Chatty Cathy? Twitter has sprouted a whole new army of them!

Chatty Cathy

Lets use Brian Chappell as an example of how to use twittercounter to uncover the traits of a social media consultant who gets strategy. A social media consultant who actually has a job can't tweet all the time, sure we all get a little Chatty Cathy once in a while but real consultants do work at some point, and using twittercounter and selecting the "updates" option will show you that there are times when your potential social media consultant won't update for a day or two, and that is a good thing, why? Because they are busy working on strategies to help their clients, again shocking!

Does it mean they need to have zero updates some days??

Not at all but if they usually post 10 times a day, there have to be some days that only get one or two.

Lets anonymously use a social media consultant with thousands of followers (who follows a couple hundred people). See this chart below. This person has over 50 tweets in a day about 10 times in 30 days. I think that is a bit excessive, especially since most of what they post is kinda useless for followers interested in social media.

Again its OK to be a little chatty once in awhile, but if you see this kind of activity, YOU should go investigate, some acceptable reasons to see a lot of tweets per day are:

    Handling a customer service issue
    Live tweeting from a conference
    Having a baby / Getting Married :)
    Posting hashtags to keep people abreast of a seminar
    Getting a new job

All those are perfectly good reasons for a social media consultant to have a big spike in twitter activity, but you should investigate the source of consistent tweet spikes before hiring them to make sure spikes in tweets are relevant.

Very often people's spikes in twitter posts come from bickering and pissing contests. Take note, how often do they get involved with arguments that cause them to post 60 times in a day 10 times a month? Even if the tweets are small, it takes time to write that tweet and squeeze the thought into 140 characters, it could be a minute per tweet at least. Over the course of a day that's an hour or more. An hour they could have spent helping you instead of arguing over who's right and whose wrong.

Problem #3 They are "Talkin Loud and ain't Sayin Nothin'"

Ahh James Brown Said it best!

Evaluating a social media consultant? Read their twitter stream, are they posting resources or opinions? A good social media consultant knows that there is a balance between personal, fun, opinion, type posts and ones that show that they “get it”. Use tools like Twitter grader and look at their cloud – take a look at Brian Chappell's cloud is not the kind of guy to be running around drinking a ton taking photos with everyone, he analyzes and strategizes. That's why I like him.

I see minimal @'s and nothing inappropriate or groupie like. I like what I see - a cloud filled with @'s and inappropriate words tells you what this person talks about most of the time.

Too many @'s tells me you like to make your conversations public, for the same reason why I don't want to hear my neighbors argue, outside, I don't need to see what should be a private conversation happening in public...your social media consultant should know when a conversation is public and when it should be taken private. If they keep their arguments public all the time, how are they going to ask you to respond to a customer complaint, call them stupid or an idiot on a public forum?

Problem #4 – They follow everyone who follows them.

This is a touchy one, but here goes. A strategic social media consultant (or anyone who values true networking) understands VALUABLE connections, and understands that not all followers are created equal and realizes that they probably shouldn't follow everyone (this does not apply for social media consultants who sell software or authors who are trying to sell books). The groupie social media consultants follow almost everyone back, why? Because they have attached their self worth, ego, and popularity to how many followers they can get. The more people that follow me the more popular I am, right? Is their mantra. There are exceptions to this rule, but not too many.


Run this tool I used Tamar Weinberg's twitterholic report as an example.

Shocker, Tamar doesn't follow everyone back, and she actually does have a book out there on social media, so you'd think she'd start following more people to maybe sell more books. Nope.

More importantly, you'll see lately she's been trimming back who she follows even as her follower count grows! I'd love to know why, but I can imagine that people that value connections realize that at times they need to trim some back when it just becomes too much.

Don Crowther another person I respect breaks this rule and is still a great consultant, so don't use any of my ideas as absolutes, ok? There are quality people who do break some (but not all) of these rules.

Problem #5 - Their profile refers to themselves as a speaker, thought leader, expert, guru, or ninja.

Nothing says I drink the cool aid like I'm a social media ninja! If their goal is to get speaking gigs what does that do for YOU? I speak at a ton of events myself, but I'd never promote myself as a speaker if I only had 140 characters to talk about myself. Look at the twitter profile for someone I consider to be an expert, Beth Harte or at Chris Winfield and his profile on twitter. I tend to like people who are good at what they do and show some humility, so I can't say that without mentioning Dave Snyder, Jordan Kasteler, and Loren Baker, just good guys too.

Why does this matter? The minute you start thinking of yourself as a "guru" you spend more time maintaining your status and not on hustling and being the best you can be at your craft. Getting selected as a speaker for some consultants plays into their ego in a way that says "look at all these people who come see me speak because I know so much more than they do" - thats whack!

Don again, breaks this rule, so it gives me an opportunity to again say - do NOT use any of these as absolutes? Don please don't break any more of these rules or you are going to kill my post. So those are my thoughts, this post has been bubbling up in me for a while, glad I finally got to write it. I know there are more folks who do social whom I didn't get to mention here, its cause I am saving your samples for part II. Thanks to Gloria Bell, a Philadelphia Based Social Media Consultant who helped me spark this idea!

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Wil Reynolds
Wil Reynolds
CEO & Vice President