Social media snake oil?

Every company needs a social media strategy. I’ve written this, at length, myself. For many execs, this is foreign and frightening turf. So many turn to consultants. Now, as Adam Kmiec argues, the market is filling up with lots of wannabes singing from the same hymnals (Cluetrain Manifesto, Groundswell, etc.) and prescribing the same measures: Open up, blog, get on Twitter, follow customers’ Twitter feeds, etc.

Adam points to David Armano and Peter Kim, who are concerned about the same issue. Armano writes:

Bottom line, there’s unfortunately a short term business model for hucksters out to make a buck at your expense. That’s because the field is still young and there isn’t much that’s been established—it’s a bit of a wild west scenerio. Which ironically is a period in time when the snake oil salesmen thrived.

The trouble is this: We’re not talking about hard sciences, or even the data analysis of the Numerati. This is social, which is extremely difficult to measure and lends itself to BS. You could have a so-called snake oil salesman who turns out to be smart, figures out the needs of the clients and offers good, albeit familiar, advice.

Adam asks if a social media “sheriff” is needed. Fact is, the customers are vulnerable in part because they haven’t mastered these very tools, from blog search to LinkedIn, to carry out due diligence on consultants. It’s just a matter of time before someone sets up a consultancy to vet the consultants. Maybe that’s the shining opportunity in the field.

Do you see snake oil spreading in this field? (Cross-posted on

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