Distinguishing The Gurus From The Blaggers

Almost everyone in public relations these days claims to be a social media guru.

Call me cynical if you like but I reckon a healthy percentage of these self-styled experts are little more than blaggers.

If you are looking to appoint a PR agency for a social media campaign, how do you distinguish the gurus from the frauds?

You can always test them out but a simple question will give you an enlightening steer.

Ask them how many followers their head of social media has on Twitter or if you want to be even more daring, ask how many followers their CEO or chairman has.

If the answer is - our chairman doesn't have a Twitter page - walk away.

If the answer is - a few hundred followers - give the agency a body swerve.

If the answer is - a couple of thousand - be on your guard.

If the answer is - over 5,000 followers - give them a shot at your business!

I'm constantly shocked at how few followers social media experts often have.

The message is loud and clear - if they can't do it for themselves, they won't do it for you.

I hear you say: "How many followers have you got?"

I'm not going to tell you. You can check my total on Twitter and add your name to my list of followers if you find my tweets interesting. If you are in PR or marketing I'll follow you back!

For more information about our social media offering please visit our specialist website Only Social.


  1. Right....so if my PR agency is a boutique agency of maybe three staff handling mostly regional accounts it should have over 5,000 followers to be of any use?

    I could get 5,000 followers in a week. I'd start spam following, tweeting terms like p0rn, mo0rtgage, or gambl1ng. I'd then have a wealth of followers. They would be useless of course.

    Measuring social media success on follower/fan/like numbers is an terrible idea. I'd much rather engaged or high value social media profile than one with big big follower numbers.

    Well, that's my 2cents anyway.

    Posted 08 December 2011 at 17:01:21
  2. Some fair points there Gordon, but a few questions as well.

    1) I'm sure you know that most people who are good at Social Media really don't like or use the phrase Guru but I'm sure you kept it in here for SEO purposes.

    2) On that note, I see this content is mirrored at http://www.onlymarketing.com/blog/ which - IIRC - isn't the best move in terms of SEO as Google penalises repeat content (but admittedly I'm no SEO expert so I may be wrong)

    3) Again, as you know, it's not about followers. Anyone can go out and buy them or do a follow-back system. Like you, I tend to follow most people who follow me but a real Guru would tell you that it's about levels of engagement and not numbers. The number that does matter is ROI.

    4) Interesting choice of numbers though. Allan Barr, Mike McGrail, Tuminds, Phil Adams, Colin Gilchrist, Gary Ennis - six of the country's best at social media don't have more than 5,000 followers. I don't think the entire collective of Weber Shandwick in Scotland (two year winners of the CIPR Scotland Best Use of Social Media Award) even adds up to 1000 followers.

    5) Good call on the Head of Social Media thing though - can't see online if Beattie has one though.

    I suspect, good sir, that this is a bit of linkbaiting and if so, nicely done as it will certainly stir up a few people - indeed I see a few are upset already!

    Posted 08 December 2011 at 17:49:24

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