5 Tips For Connecting to REAL Social Media Mentors

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social media mentors

So you’re looking for Social Media Mentors? Not Gurus. Not Ninjas. Not Divas or Queens, but real live social media mentors.

I’ve got your back.

There’s a collective of experienced social media marketers who are ready to take the social sphere back from “fauxperts.”

Our feeds are plagued by their bad business … hard sells, blatantly begging for likes and shares, asking questions like, “What did you have for lunch today?” or “Share this if you like puppies and unicorns!”

If you’re ready for real, read on!


Spotting Fake Social Media Mentors

My new friend and mentor, Robert, is one of the fearless leaders lighting the path to social GOOD.

Robert and I have talked many times about what it means to deliver REAL results in social media, and how to spot social media mentors who are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Here’s what Robert had to say about the so-called “experts” out there; my questions and endnotes are in bold:

What are the key questions companies should ask when shopping for a legit social media professional?

I cover this topic in Part 3 of my blog series. It says things like, look for people who walk the walk. Do their own Facebook Pages, Twitter accounts, etc. follow the advice they’re giving you? If not, that’s a RED FLAG. For instance, take a good look at their Twitter stream. Are they having conversations or only pushing out their own info? If they aren’t talking with their followers, or are just talking among their peers, that’s a RED FLAG.

Another sign would be folks who have blogs going out every single day. These are not social media professionals, they’re bloggers. Real social media professionals don’t have the time to write a blog everyday. And if they’re hiring someone else to write on their behalf, RED FLAG, they aren’t following social protocol.

Also, RED FLAG, if your social media “expert” only interviews others or has guest bloggers on their blog all the time, you should know this is wrong. These people are just looking to get their name out there.

What are telltale signs to look for on non-social media mentors’ Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages?

If the person really understands social media, they will try to humanize their brand. Many people don’t use a logo as their avatar on Twitter for this reason; I can’t have a relationship with a brand or logo. I constantly tell people this is something they need to consider changing.

Is the content they’re posting relevant, valuable and interesting to me, or is it just a ton of social media information? At the moment I’m looking to hire them, this info may be interesting to me. However, as you get to know your audience, you can narrow it down to three, four or five topics. For me it’s a few topics: copy, unique/new information on social media (not just reposting Mashable articles), small business trends and family. You can see my feeds and see that information any time.

How can people/companies protect themselves from ‘wanna be’ social media mentors and professionals?

If an agency or individual says they are an expert, ninja or guru that’s a RED FLAG. They don’t understand this industry.

If they’re putting social media pricing on their website that is really inexpensive, like $99 or $299 a month, don’t expect to get any results from that! Additionally, if you see a list of activities and tactics showing you what these packages will do for you, that’s not strategy. Clients need a custom strategy built for them by their agency or professional.

Everything starts with strategy. Cookie cutter stuff doesn’t work! Saying they’ll post once a day here, and twice a day there isn’t what it’s about. Social media is an incredibly human and time intensive process. It’s about having conversations all day. It’s about responding any time your brand is mentioned on any platform. And it’s not always Facebook and Twitter. It depends on your customer and their industry.

Connecting With Real Social Media Mentors & Professionals

In 140 characters or less, can you tell us what the MUST HAVES are for true social media mentors and professionals?

That’s very, very difficult. I don’t know if you can do this in 140 characters, nor do I think it’s appropriate. One thing I learned when we were a social media agency, before we became a social media management tool, was to be okay with saying no to a client. So, I’m telling you no. [laughs]

If I had to say something, it would be: Just because you say you’re skilled in social media doesn’t mean you are. AND, what’s your social media ROI? It’s all about results. The results look different for every client, whether it’s direct sales, click through rates, awareness, etc. I can tell you what it’s NOT: Number of followers, number of fans, or Klout scores. Those don’t matter. Those are easy to achieve; I can do those in my sleep.

Name some MUST follow social media accounts that walk the walk and provide value to readers.

There are two Twitter accounts I would recommend:

Big name folks: It seems there’s only one who appears to me to walk the walk. I’ve never spoken to her directly, but Mari Smith seems legit. (You can follow Mari on Facebook here and on Twitter here)

The next one is brand new, they went live today, SteamFeed. It’s a group of social media professionals who started it. They’ve built a huge group of authors who write about social media. They’re not the celebrities speaking at these events; they’re real and actually work in the industry with clients.

 Anything else you’d like to add?

I’m honored to do this. The whole point of social media is taking the relationships you build out of the social graph and into real life by phone, email, Skype calls, Google Hangouts or by people walking in your door – that’s when you know you’re doing it right.

Ultimately your social media can only go so far.  You have to ask yourself, what are we doing when someone clicks that link? What are we doing when that person walks in the door? If your agency is getting it right they’re doing that for you and they’re also telling you what’s next; what needs to change on your social pages, with your staff, with your website, etc. so you can be prepared for the relationships when they come out of the graph and show up in the real world.

Robert Caruso (@fondalo) – Robert M. Caruso is a long time social media professional and founder of Bundlepost, the first social content management system. His company develops social media technologies that increase social media agencies and marketers efficiency, effectiveness and profitability.

I’m sure that’s left you all with a Thanksgiving-sized plate of food for thought. Please feel free to add, question or comment below!


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Brooke B. Sellas is the in-the-trenches Founder & CEO of @HelloBSquared, an award-winning social media, advertising, and social media customer care agency. She's also the author of Conversations That Connect -- a book all about social listening and social media customer care. Brooke's marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout on the socials!
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19 Comments. Leave new

  • Thanks for all the wonderful information. I, too, am new to Social Media Management and learning with the rest. I agree, we will all always be students. Continue with the great information and I look forward to seeing more.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Aleshia! We all have to start somewhere … I think it’s great you’re reading and researching. Be sure to follow the handles mentioned on Twitter and Facebook up there. 🙂 Hopefully we’ll get to connect again soon.

  • You guys are so kind. What an honor to be included and offer my thoughts. Appreciate you guys!!

    • Robert, you’re too humble. Thank YOU for all of the time you’ve spent with us and for helping to get the word out these “experts.” Viva the SMRebels!

  • Avatar
    Jennifer G. Hanford
    September 26, 2012 2:45 PM

    What an awesome interview, Brooke & Robert! I’m still a relative newcomer to the social media world, but learned fairly quickly that those calling themselves “experts” and “gurus” were, well, not so much. Social media is rapidly evolving and it’s important to keep up. And so, we all remain students.

    I especially like how Robert “defines” social media ROI: ‘The results look different for every client… I can tell you what it’s NOT: Number of followers, number of fans, or Klout scores.’ I couldn’t agree more!

    Great post, Brooke!

    • Thank you very much for commenting, Jennifer. I think you’re right: We’ll forever be students of this ever-changing landscape. It pains me to see “experts” selling services that focus on tactics (and poor ones at that!), and putting “online marketing” or “social media” as a skill on sites like LinkedIn. I’m worried their bad business hurts those of us who are really trying to help. I want to get the word out there, and am so happy to have the digital friends I do to help me spread the word!

  • I am always surprised when people call themselves experts. In an industry that changes so quickly, it minimizes people as soon as they say they are an expert. It means they don’t understand the industry well enough to know that there are no experts. Thanks for a great read!

    • Agreed, Jen. Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing your thoughts on the subject. I think it’s going to continue to be a hot topic … And I’ve decided I’m not going to skirt the sensitive issues anymore! More opinionated posts to come … 🙂

  • Ahhhh…Robert tells it like it is! Love my chats with him. He’s the epitome of social savvy without being social simply for social sake.

    We all have to sort out a bottom line, a result, some ROI for the time and effort we put into any action. The reaction we get is one of those results. Be it a share, a discussion started or a contract signed. Are they all equally valuable? Yes and no? Like Robert cannily stated, we each have our own results, and those results can change greatly day by day, post by post.

    Great blog, Brooke!

    • I know, Mallie! I’m trying to take a page or two from his book and learn to be more outspoken about what I believe is “right” in the social media world. I’m not asking everyone to agree with me, but I do think it’s important to start being as real as possible (like you are!) – even if it stings.
      ROI is a tricky topic. I just know that what Robert said is 100% true: Friends and follower counts are easy! They should be a very small part of what professionals label “successful” for clients.
      Thanks for responding!

  • This is a great post! I’m glad I took the time to read it! I really appreciate you pointing out that legitimate social media professionals don’t have the time to write blog posts every day. I have been feeling like I my blog is a failure because I can only seem to get one post per month because things are so hectic for me. I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts!

    • I feel ya, Shannon. I spent weeks banking and writing intros and topics on the B2 Blog before I went live last week. I know it’s challenging to keep up – I decided weekly works best for me, but you have to go with what works for YOU. Daily posts … well that just sounds impossible!
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I hope to connect again soon. 🙂

  • Excellent interview and really great advice. Robert Caruso is a very savvy guy. I am trying to live up to these goals every single day. It’s not always easy to step off the roaring train of likes and follows and really get out there and connect. But I resolve to be me, be real, and do it every single day! No bullcrap just good marketing!

    • Thank you, Kerry! I think we “real” mentors do try to live up to those goals everyday! It’s not easy – if it were, more people would do it. Weeeeell … more people would do it correctly rather than just saying they’re an “online marketer” or “social media guru” (when they’re clearly neither). I’ve promised to be true to myself, and since I’ve gotten started with B2 I’ve been doing exactly that! It’s the best feeling in the world and I’ve never been happier!! 🙂

  • I Want to Connect not Count! | Millipede Media Group
    September 27, 2012 10:51 PM

    […] Brook Ballard of B Squared Media 5 Tips for Connection to REAL Social Media Mentors […]

  • Avatar
    Veronica Solorzano Athanasiou
    September 28, 2012 1:31 PM

    Great article. I am new to helping people get their Facebook page right and it is very important to follow true professionals, so coming across SteamFeed and its followers/collaborators has been great. Started following Robert last week thanks to Idea Girl Media and really respect Dorien and Mallie for helping us rookies how to get it right. That’s how I found you today.
    Pleasure to meet you!

    • Thank you, Veronica! It sounds like you’re already connected to some social do-gooders. Robert is wonderful (clearly) and Mallie and Dorien are bright and lovely ladies to know. You may also want to check out our Social Solutions Collective (Mallie, Dorien, myself and several other social business owners make up the group). Best of luck to you and I hope we get to connect again soon!

  • Avatar
    Nancy Babcock
    October 1, 2012 11:10 AM

    Wonderful interview and discussion on so many topics. Sorting out who to follow, who to trust, who is “real” when there are thousands of pieces of advice takes time. Each individual and business mentioned in the blog and comments has had a terrifically positive influence on me helping “to spot people who are wolves in sheep’s clothing”. Great blog!!

    • Thank you for commenting, Nancy! It’s scary to think about all of the “wolves in sheep’s clothing” out there – selling their “expertise” in an area that isn’t even close to being figured out. Stay tuned for more “outing” of these people and their terrible practices … 🙂


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