Social media experts and what ad agencies should know

David Armano is SVP at Edelman Digital, and he had a great post a while back that still holds up well today. (We linked to it in our roundup this week, but it’s good enough to expand on.)

His post is titled How To Spot Social Media Snake Oil, and he lays out 5 things to look for when you’re considering working with a social media expert. He’s also got a handy chart called the “Professional Prism of Trust,” where he places social media experts right after bankers and snake oil salesmen.

As funny as I find that, in all fairness, it’s easy to bash some of these so-called experts, but as we all know, there are some excellent social media sources and experts out there, and David’s post is a nice primer on what to look for to save yourself some heartache while we’re still in the wild west days of social media.

Below are his 5 points, click on the link at the bottom of the post to see each point in it’s entirety:

1. My last job was selling junk bonds
As I mentioned in social media’s dirty little secrets—there’s a bandwagon to be jumped on. As you do background checks around the people you choose to partner with in social business, you should be able to see ties from the past to what they are doing now.

2. I’m an expert, just see the testimonials
Actually there really isn’t anything wrong with self identifying yourself as an expert in a field or including things people said about you.

3. I can guarantee you X number of followers…
Anyone who starts their pitch by promising friends, followers, or even positive word of mouth is suspicious. This tells you they”re looking to “sell you” a quick fix which is probably in response to the hype of people placing such a big emphasis on metrics such as this.

4. Social media will save you
No it won’t. Anyone framing social media as the solution to the world’s problems is either drinking Koolaid or looking to make a buck.

5. Build it and they will socialize
Be wary of anyone selling a point solution that promises instant social interactions, conversations, collaboration etc.

David’s entire post here.


As Vice President of Sales at RSW/US, Lee drives sales efforts to bring ad agencies and marketing services firms on board with RSW, creates content around successful new business tactics and takes part in RSW/US marketing objectives, including social media channels, blog content, webinars, video and speaking engagements. You can find him on LinkedIn ( or Twitter (@leemcknightjr).