Hi there. I'm Matt. Don't hate the player. Hate the game.1

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Jul 26, 2009 | Comments

My marketing department once hired a social media consultant.

We read his blog, even heard him speak. We were sold. After initial phone conversations, we agreed on $20,000 for a 2-3 month engagement.

He came into the office for a kick-off meeting with myself, my boss, and another co-worker. Two hours later, he left $20,000 poorer. After the meeting, my group agreed that we should cut ties, pay him for the day, and find another place for our money.

Yes, he was fired after one meeting. What happened?

  1. He stated that we needed to do something.
    • While discussing Twitter, he claimed that we must respond to tweets–a legal difficulty for the company. But the tone was so aggressive–that we must use this strategy. Such narrow-minded thinking caused an instant wtf moment for the boss. As any consultant should know, corporations are difficult to break. New ideas take time to absorb, and it accomplishes little to preach a supposed immutable law of social media.
  2. He was wrong–about social media.

    • When discussing ShareThis, a point came up regarding whether the app supported FriendFeed. He was 100% certain that it was not. Luckily I had my laptop for sweet pwnage. Epic fail.
  3. He interrupted us.
    • I understood his frustration–the boss maintained that we could not execute on Twitter for a number of legal reasons (I know, heresy for one devoted to social media). The guru interjected repeatedly with his logic and justification. You’d think that in a kick-off meeting, the client would be the one doing the talking.
  4. He argued.
    • This guy had an unassailable love for FriendFeed. We didn’t, nor had we ever heard of it. Food for thought: if you’re ever in a meeting and an argument arises, I recommend abating it quickly. Few people can be convinced of something in back and forth chatter.
  5. He made us (no kidding) feel stupid.
    • There were moments when our lack of social media knowledge was very clear. He made sure to stress our ignorance to support his points of what we should do and how we should do it.

These may all seem very obvious. But this guy was a seasoned veteran, top Adage blogger, in his 40′s, etc. We couldn’t believe it.

I suppose that the lesson is: even though you may be an expert, humble yourself. Don’t be a douche bag. Follow the gospel of how to deal with people.

And there are few things in the world that require one tactical solution. From the only guru I trust:

“The only way your organization is going to make an impact is to market in the way only you can. Not by following some expert’s rules or following the herd, but by doing it in the way that works. For you.”

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  • Tom Brown

    Nice post. It seems so obvious, but I have heard similar complaints before. So. . . 2 years later, how have you guys been doing with Social Media?

  • An excellent cautionary tale for all who consult--no matter what the topic!

  • Great post! Has given me some food for thought in my next social media pitch...Think I will be subscribing!

  • HI Matt,

    That post made me laugh. I have been in similar meetings where the consultant has not understand the "reality" that their client operates in.

    And it has lead to the most absurd conversations about "engagement" and "particiaptory communications".

    To put a stop to it, we invited them to a bullshit bingo presentation. The laughs alone made life easier.

    PC

  • If you're searching social media to find social media expertise, you'll rather find a guru than a consultant.

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