Hiring Experts Is Not a Bad Idea


“Beware of social media experts” has become a trendy thing to say. Or, “Beware of Google Plus experts.” It seems like everyone”s warning against hiring experts. How…hip.

Here’s the thing: Hiring an expert isn’t a bad idea. Either is hiring someone who says they’re an expert. The danger is only — I repeat, only — in hiring someone whose claims don’t match up to their actual abilities.

That’s true of everything: Used cars. Homebuilders. School teachers. Cheating husbands.

“Beware the experts” is easy to say because “expert” is a loosely defined term. An “expert” is just someone who knows how to do a job better than you. It’s nothing but a label…a convenience to help find those who do things better than us quickly and easily.

The amount of time you spend screening experts should be proportional to the stakes. Building a $250,000 house? Screen your experts diligently. Have a $250 budget to hire someone to manage your 23 Twitter followers? Well, be realistic: You don’t need social media godfather Chris Brogan for that and you can’t afford him. If you spend six months vetting lesser experts, you’ve wasted your time.

Some warnings make sense. Gini’s right, for example: It’s waaaaaaaaaay to soon to declare yourself a Google Plus expert. That’s not to say it’s too soon for veteran marketers to teach the basics of Google Plus.

But most of the people who says “Beware of ____________ experts” aren’t telling you anything useful, so much as saying “Yes, yes! I agree!” as they echo other “thought leaders” who want you reading their blogs.

Yes, you read that correctly. It’s the “experts” telling you to beware experts.

So, please, for the love of God, can we stop the hue and cry of “Beware experts” now? It’s self-centered, and it’s bad advice.

Hire an expert. Just do your due diligence.

  • http://twitter.com/Cara Cara

    Hallelujah! Geesh. I’m so over everyone saying
    there can’t be social media experts and to ignore those who claim to be
    experts, gurus, etc. We have accepted & trusted experts in just
    about every other industry, so why not SM? I agree that s…ometimes
    it premature to claim advanced knowledge in a brand new tool (Google+
    is a good example you give), but there are certainly people out there
    who jump in feet first in order to quickly learn the ins & outs of
    these new, shiny toys and are more than capable of sharing that newly
    acquired knowledge with others who are slower getting up to speed. I say
    bring on the experts!! Embrace them. And plan to pay them what they’re
    worth.

  • http://spinsucks.com Gini Dietrich

    Interesting perspective, Scott. My only point is that it’s been less than a month so it’s too early to learn how G+ can fit into a marketing program. There are plenty of people charging to teach other’s how to use the tool. That’s fine. But don’t pretend you’re an expert and you got enough out of it in 24 days to be able to read the future and know how (or if) it’s going to affect businesses. 

  • http://mediaemerging.com Scott Hepburn

    I think we probably agree on the Google+ point, G.

    Aside: See what I did there? I’m so clever…

    I have a bigger beef with the Olivier Blanchards, Peter Shankmans and Gary Vaynerchuks of the world thumping their chests about “Don’t trust experts.” It’s reeks of insecurity, which is absurd from professionals with their renown. 

    They should say what they really mean: “You should have hired me instead of that other guy. I’m better than him. I was here first. I have more Twitter followers. I’ve written more blog posts. I’m a better thinker. It’s not fair that you picked him instead of me. I hereby protest his use of the word ‘expert’ to describe himself.”

    I mean, that’s what it boils down to, right? Otherwise, why should these guys be so concerned with what others call themselves?

    We’ve got bigger fish to fry as a recovering economy and as a society. Helping our clients and empowering fellow citizens is a step in the right direction. The highest praise should go to those who focus their energy their.

  • http://coombsmarketing.wordpress.com/ Mike

    I think what Shankman is saying is don’t hire an SM expert who doesn’t know anything else about business or marketing.   Lots of  SM “experts” are writing breathlessly about the new world of marketing that they have discovered (for the first time) through their otherwise sophisticated social media skills.   But I think that much of what they “discover” and write about is old news.  Marketing has always been about the same stuff many social media experts claim to have discovered. 

    When your only tool is a hammer, everything is a nail.

    So I agree with Shankman when he says that “IT’S ABOUT GENERATING REVENUE THROUGH SOLID MARKETING AND
    STELLAR CUSTOMER SERVICE, JUST LIKE IT’S BEEN SINCE THE BEGINNING OF
    TIME.”

    There are certainly social media experts all around. 
    But their are damn few social media marketing experts.