There is an interesting term circulating on the Web lately. The term is Social Media Marketing and it has become the newest hip thing to offer clients. Many marketers are touting the skill. Is this wrong? No. Is it wrong to boast a skill that you really don’t have? Yes. That’s exactly the problem. Many are saying they offer it but don’t have a clue how to leverage it for business purposes.

I know that when I decided to offer “Social Media Marketing” as a service to my clients, I decided I needed to know as much about the inner workings of these social media sites as possible so that I could explain them to my clients in simple terms that they could understand. I immediately went to Amazon and bought as many books on services like Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter as well as books on the philosophy behind social media and how use it to grow your business. After all this reading was I ready to offer the service to my clients? No. I still had to test it out on my own brand first to make sure I was able to do it. Have I found success? Yes and no. Social Media Marketing isn’t an overnight task. Like Search Engine Optimization, it takes time to grow a community around yourself and your brand and gain their trust.

A good example of how I’ve slowly built up my brand and myself in social media is on Twitter. I’ve been a member of the microblogging service since September 2007. When I first signed up, it was merely to see what it was all about. I didn’t quite understand the power of it. Honestly, most didn’t at that time. Slowly I began to gain friends on the service and build relationships. About a year and a few months later I have 550+ followers and I’m slowly seeing the effects of my hardwork.

I’ve started to do some social media work for my clients and before I start I always tell them that it takes time. They won’t see results overnight and they need to be patient and actively participate in the discussions and discourse on these services. Honestly, if any “social media marketing guru” tells a client that they can do it overnight, show them the door.

I think “Social Media Marketing” is becoming a buzz term that is popular because it has a good ring to it. What bugs me is those Twitter users or Facebook users that say they’re social media gurus but have no website with examples of how they’ve applied it to their own company. Why would you hire someone to grow your company if they haven’t even tried to do it for themselves first.

The best test-subject is yourself. Before you go to market with a product try it out on yourself first. Iron out the bugs and figure out how you can apply it to other people. Only then do you market it to others. Not before.

Even with the growth of this new industry, people are going to continue to claim skills that they don’t really have. It’s up to the customers to find the ones that really are the real deal.

I want to hear your views on this. Please post your comments below!

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Seth Goldstein is the Principal Creative Director at Goldstein Media LLC. He has been in the Web design and Internet marketing business for more than 10 years. A self-proclaimed technologist, Seth is addicted to all types of technology. He loves to help businesses of all sizes figure out the best way to use the Internet to grow their business.
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