Crappy Consultants

The screed today hits close to home since I want to throw a little sunlight on something going on in the consulting world.  While it’s been on my mind for a bit I read a piece this morning called How Social Media Consultants Dupe Their Corporate Clients from Dave Copeland of ReadWriteWeb that brought it front and center.  The piece talks about how a friend of Dave’s was underwhelmed by a consultant brought in to get the company up to speed with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and the rest.  Not only was the presentation the consultant made stunningly simplistic, but it may have been wrong.  As the article put it:

…the company has little digital expertise. That leaves it open to exploitation by so-called social media experts who take a one-size-fits-all approach to every client. These consultants often bill tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars before anyone realizes there is little or no return on the investment.

Amen.  As I’m out meeting with potential clients I often run into the work of some “consultant” who knows how to post on Facebook but doesn’t understand how Facebook is used as part of a business.  Forget knowing about the social graph – these folks don’t have a clue about asking the most important question – why social media in the first place?  After all, it’s not right for every business and there certainly is no standard implementation that’s going to work across the board.

I’ve had prospective clients hand me the “white paper” some other consultant did that was nothing more than a document grabbed off the web.  I’ve had another client think that someone had built them a solution when all they were doing was using a white-label provider and marking up the cost.  In each case the warning signs were there – the person they’d hired didn’t have a lot of business experience (it’s hard to claim a ton of social media experience – it’s s new medium!) and treated social as just another marketing megaphone.

It’s hard to convince anyone that there is an ROI to social, especially since it’s very resource intensive if done well.  It requires someone who can digest a 360 degree view of the business and align social with other marketing efforts, including the analytics to evaluate it all.  The charlatans identified in the article hurt clients.  They hurt folks like me who have to battle against their failures to get hired (usually to clean up a mess).  They hurt the industry.  I wish they’d go away – maybe a little sunlight will scare them off.

Have you had an experience with someone like this?

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1 Comment

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One response to “Crappy Consultants

  1. Yes I have. Not with social-media but with security; another mysterious area.

    A consultant , formerely my manager at a prior job, was assigned the task of tightening security on one of my client’s application servers. He didn’t know what he was doing and after three weeks of what should have been a two-day task, he was getting nowhere and authentication failures were occuring all over the place. To mitigate the failures, he relaxed security completly such that security was wide open and anybody could do anything, including deleting the main master file.

    I paused, should I turn a blind eye to that fact that my client had been billed ‘tens of thousands’ of Dollars and has nothing to show for it, or should I bring it to their attention. I chose the latter and I was instructed by the COO to advise the consultant!? I saw this as tantamount to having Little Red Riding Hood tell the Big Bad Wolf to stop eating little girls. My security access, and only my access, was restricted by said consultant to the point that I couldn’t do my job. He is still there, I’m not and there is still no security.

    Beware Crappy Consultants!

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