Certified in Social Media?

January 22, 2009

This is probably going to sound like a rant.
Maybe it is. Maybe it’s just reality.
I got an email from someone yesterday asking me to tell them if they should get “certified” as a social media consultant  by a certain software company. Said company sells “THE Enterprise Social Media Solution” and they tell their wannabe social media consultants that the future of marketing on the web is through social media and if you don’t go there you’ll be left in the dust to wither and die.

OK, I sorta agree about the future of on-line marketing, but really, are we expected to be foolish enough to think one enterprise suite is the answer?

People. Social media is an incredibly complex thing. New apps pop up like daffodils in springtime and each has it’s own values and pitfalls. Bottom line? There is no one answer for every situation.
Every situation has to be dealt with individually, and a good consultant will custom tailor the tools to the needs, skill-set, budget and time limits of the individual. A good social media coach will guide you and teach you how to stand on your own in social media circles, not install a nose-ring and lead you down the rosy path to greatness.

In my not-at-all humble opinion these companies selling social media certification are hucksters at best. You want to be a social media consultant or coach? Spend some time in the trenches. learn the apps. Nurture conversation and encourage alternate opinions. Care about your customers needs and abilities. Actually teach them something useful so they can go forth and produce their own following. Don’t sell them a solution because it’s the one you learned in class.

Being a coach is not about you. it’s  about your client and finding them the right fit. Holding their hands as they learn the ropes and then letting them go. it is NOT about creating a permanent place on their advisory council or hooking them up to the right Enterprise solution.

A good coach will help you see how to Tweet and blog and share and engage. They won’t pretend to be you or ghost your blog. They won’t tell you “it’s best left to the professionals”. A good social media coach is by all means a teacher, a friend and an enabler.

Every time I see a “Make Six Figures With Social Media!!” post I cringe. These people are taking your money. Like any business model there’s a scheme out there lurking in the shadows. They’re luring you into yet another pyramid scheme of sorts where they sell you an opportunity to connect with their networks and you sell your “students” the same opportunity.

People who are truly into social media are in it for the conversation, the learning opportunities, the camaraderie.
We are not in it for the money, and we recognize that social media is hard work. For every new client you have to learn all about them and their needs in order to guide them. It’s not a get rich quick game at all.

Whew, so next time somebody tells you they are certified, ask them for details. Who certified them and who are they? What did they have to do to get certified and what authority does that entity  have to certify anybody in the first place? Are they selling something? Get references and call them.

I love community and social engagement. I love learning about new markets and helping them identify their niche networks and communication tools. I have for 13 years.

If what you want is to learn how to stand on your own two feet in this new arena, I’d love to talk to you.
If you want to make six figures “using” social media over-night, go find a certified social media consultant.


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  • I like what you have to say here! I agree with you. In order to learn this, we do have to “get in the trenches” and do the work and learn it. A certification is great, but it really boils down to skill and creating a relationship with the client(s). In order to do a great job, knowing your client(s) and what they need will help you know how to serve them better. I am starting out in this new social media consulting/management venture and I am relieved I came across this article! Thank you again!

  • I am on my feet and shouting AMEN SISTER.  I couldn’t agree more! People who call themselves “EXPERTS” in a marketing arena that changes continuously are fools. I am an active participant and a strategist in social media- listening to my customers’ needs and goals and then helping them formulate a plan that will help them find their target customers and engage in conversation. And what those tools are will ebb and flow as new vehicles become available. Did we see Pinterest coming a year ago? No. Did we see the Google circles? I loved your post. In fact, I co host an online radio show call Us Media Radio: Where Relationships and Technology Collide and we’d love to have you as a guest. Thanks again! Deborah Chaddock Brown, AllWrite Ink

  • The first has to do with claims to knowledge. In a sense, i am a “consultant” to my students. ..And they would laugh my rear end right out of the classroom if i didn't teach them based on both years of study of media theory as well as practical, reflective exposure to media itself. Absent either of these, my PhD wouldn't be worth the paper it's printed on.

  • The first has to do with claims to knowledge. In a sense, i am a “consultant” to my students. ..And they would laugh my rear end right out of the classroom if i didn't teach them based on both years of study of media theory as well as practical, reflective exposure to media itself. Absent either of these, my PhD wouldn't be worth the paper it's printed on.

  • I'm just getting strted with coaching and cnsulting with Scial Mdia. Ths is a great perspctive and I fully agree!

  • Hi Janet,

    In a way you are right. A real-time work experience teaches lot more than coaching and certification. However, I think a certification would do some good for a Fresher if s/he wants to take up a job in this direction. Hope i make sense. Thank you.

    Kind Regards,
    Lokabhiram Dwarakanath

  • Hi Janet,

    In a way you are right. A real-time work experience teaches lot more than coaching and certification. However, I think a certification would do some good for a Fresher if s/he wants to take up a job in this direction. Hope i make sense. Thank you.

    Kind Regards,
    Lokabhiram Dwarakanath

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