Join thousands of weekly readers and receive practical marketing advice for FREE.
MarketingSherpa's Case Studies, New Research Data, How-tos, Interviews and Articles

Enter your email below to join thousands of marketers and get FREE weekly newsletters with practical Case Studies, research and training, as well as MarketingSherpa updates and promotions.


Please refer to our Privacy Policy and About Us page for contact details.

No thanks, take me to MarketingSherpa

First Name:
Last Name:
Apr 14, 2009

New Chart: Majority of Marketers Believe No Experience is Needed to be a Social Media Expert

SUMMARY: Two-thirds of marketers who work for organizations that have not used any form of social media marketing or PR consider themselves “very knowledgeable” or “somewhat knowledgeable” about this emerging strategy. Their overconfidence in unproven ability can doom social media initiatives to failure.
How Knowledgeable Are Marketers With No Social Media Experience?

View Chart Online
Click here to see larger, printable version of this chart

You may have spent a lifetime watching hours of television on a daily basis and being exposed to an infinite number of commercials in the process but, based on that, would you consider yourself knowledgeable about producing a TV commercial? Of course you wouldn’t.

So why would two-thirds of marketers who work for “organizations that have not used any form of social media marketing or PR”, consider themselves knowledgeable on the subject? Does creating a profile on Facebook, tweeting on Twitter, or reading and commenting on blogs qualify you to be the social media marketing expert in your company?

Clearly, there is a disconnect between personal exposure and professional ability that is unique to social media. And this disconnect is one of the most critical dangers to the successful adoption of social media as a marketing strategy.

This was confirmed in MarketingSherpa’s Social Media Marketing and PR study where we found that the “lack of knowledgeable staff” was the most significant barrier to social media adoption. When making the initial jump into social media, many organizations start by delegating responsibility to the first staff person they find with a profile on Facebook or LinkedIn since very few people have any level of practical experience in this new strategy. The result is usually a marketing program pre-destined to failure.

A better approach to adopting this strategy is to seek the advice of an agency or consultant specializing in social media if no one within your organization has proven experience. These experts understand what works and what doesn’t in social media. They can help you plan an effective strategy, train your internal resources and supplement your staff with the specialized skills needed to execute social media programs successfully. When it comes to social media marketing, an investment in expertise will insure a rapid return.

Useful links related to this article

Not a Subscriber to Sherpa's Chart of the Week? Click Here to Get a New Chart Delivered to Your Inbox Every Tuesday!

More Research Data from Sherpa:

2009 Social Media & PR Benchmark Guide

See Also:

Comments about this Article

Apr 14, 2009 - Ron Hudson of Success Strategies Research International says:
Good article! The problem is that there are consultants and agencies claiming to be experts in the "Social Media Marketing" field but their clients results indicate otherwise. People are spending $5,000 and up for minimal returns. Unfortunately, they won't publicly complain because they feel embarrassed about having made a poor decision. Basically, there is a fleecing of the American business owner taking place right now - and it has to stop!

Apr 14, 2009 - Brad J Ward of BlueFuego says:
Gary Vaynerchuk always says it best. "Everybody has the ability to play the piano, but not everybody is Billy Joel."

Apr 15, 2009 - Marc Engelsman of Digital Brand Expressions says:
This really does help explain why so many companies fail at social media. They approach it as an easy to manage inhouse tactic without giving any thought to how it needs to be integrated with their over-arching brand strategy and other online and offline efforts. And, yes, there are some rotten apples out there but there are also established top-tier agencies that are happy to share their proven results and client satisifaction.

Apr 16, 2009 - Ron Watt of Empowered Networks says:
I'm becoming more and more convinced that only people who directly benefit from social media - those selling their own expertise in social media, or those with products and services whose target market are those inclined to follow social media - are behind most of the hype. For many businesses, this has little or no impact on real business metrics. What's more, even trying to keep up with Twitter and the myriad variations is a huge timesink, and distraction.

Apr 16, 2009 - James Clark of Room 214 says:
We find this running rampant in the PR industry. So many firms are claiming to have social media expertise when they are only bolting on someone that knows how to Twitter and has a Facebook account. These agencies do a disservice to themselves as Social Media is an opportunity to drive strategic initiatives that bring together multidisciplinary groups such as marketing, customer service, product development in one succinct platform.

Apr 16, 2009 - Tom Ewing of Kantar Operations says:
Contra the sensationalist spin on this, I would not equate "somewhat knowledgeable" with "social media expert" - and I bet very few of the 56% giving that option would either. If you're a marketer with the slightest interest in the wider discipline, you've been bombarded with socmed info for the last couple of years. I'm not remotely surprised half the respondents say, in essence, that they know a bit about it.

Apr 17, 2009 - Polly Black of BoldMouth says:
This research doesn’t surprise me. Even when companies engage an agency, they find it hard to commit because they don’t know enough to evaluate the proposal. We spend a lot of time educating clients and prospects on why and how to integrate social media into their business practices (and not just in marketing). But to fully embrace social media requires a shift in corporate culture, which many are unwilling or unable to affect. So it remains a sidebar conversation to the tried and true practices management “grew up” with in the 80’s and 90’s. And when money is tight, they are hesitant to roll the dice.

Apr 17, 2009 - Warren Whitlock of says:
No doubt that there are a lot of people who think the understand how to use social media who have little clue how to implement even the most basic of strategies... but this survey and article make to invalid assumptions: 1. That there may be some set of skills that would denote a 'real' expert 2. That these skills are analogous to the skills needed for "old media" marketing The technology has matured to the point that anyone can create content, become a "source" and market and promote on the web. There are talents and experience that set apart leaders in this space, but there is no more professional vs amateur distinctions. Watching TV and producing a commercial were two different things. View and producing social media take about the same skill set. Got a web cam? You ARE media. Most companies don't do marketing as well as they could. So what else is new?

Apr 20, 2009 - Michael Sick of Michael Sick Consulting says:
I too have been amused by the rampant spread of social media expertise. It appears to be readily adopted by brands with more bandwidth than budget. I hear alot about engagement and relationship but not as much about metrics such as how much traffic it drives to a website or how much revenue can be attributed to the activity. Ultimately some evaluation of the cost/benefit relationship must occur - if only to justify the amount of time it takes. Social media is here to stay and will likely become a more important part of the media mix. I'm not recommending that any of my clients eliminate other media at this point in favor of social marketing. Our challenge as marketers is to define the role of social media and learn how the power of it can be harnessed to build brands. I look dubiously on any social media expert who can't share some metrics and success stories. Return on time or money invested is what separates successful marketers from the backgound noise - and there sure is alot of noise out there!

Apr 24, 2009 - Kres of Elucid Marketing says:
Yea, I had some objections to this articles as well, but understand your angle and frustration in understanding the true definition and role marketing plays here in social media. I agree with the other comment as how we all are a source of media, less broadcast and more online interaction. We must understand social media is separate from marketing, it is a communication tool, and not a direct stream, unless your on ecommerce guy. This just a communication device that marketers can share with users there, as an added value. Social media is a growing lifestyle and will affect generation Y greatly, so its important to not only participate, but study these trends. We do have a risk in reinventing the way business operates with this tool, but the winners will be rewarded greatly. And yes, everyone is now empowered with the access of information and the technology capable of being as good, if not better, than some other media channels that been around. This is open market and competition will exist greatly now, so be prepared. I suggest learning how to implement marketing strategies effectively with current trends by sharing with the client and having your business well rounded already.

Apr 27, 2009 - Steve Dodd of Muirfield Consulting says:
I can't help but wonder if the ambiguity of this term "Somewhat" is just another example of the issues within the Social Media Industry. Here again is another survey without any precise metrics to determine just how meaningful/real this is. Guys, I think you generally do a great job but ......... isn't this just another example of the issue?

Apr 28, 2009 - Sergio Balegno of MarketingSherpa says:
Thanks for your comment, Steve. The ranking values of 'Very', 'Somewhat', 'Not very' etc. are standard metrics for the type of survey question fielded. There is a far more critical concern that we wanted to expose here - 56% of marketers with 0% social media marketing experience consider themselves 'Somewhat knowledgeable' and 9% 'Very knowledgeable' about social media marketing. Is this meaningful and real? To the CMO responsible for the success of a social media program it is.

Post a Comment

Note: Comments are lightly moderated. We post all comments without editing as long as they
(a) relate to the topic at hand,
(b) do not contain offensive content, and
(c) are not overt sales pitches for your company's own products/services.

To help us prevent spam, please type the numbers
(including dashes) you see in the image below.*

Invalid entry - please re-enter

*Please Note: Your comment will not appear immediately --
article comments are approved by a moderator.

Improve Your Marketing

Join our thousands of weekly Case Study readers.

Enter your email below to receive MarketingSherpa news, updates, and promotions:

Note: Already a subscriber? Want to add a subscription?
Click Here to Manage Subscriptions

Best of the Week:
Marketing case studies and research

Chart Of The Week

B2B Marketing

Consumer Marketing

Email marketing

Inbound Marketing

SherpaStore Alerts


We value your privacy and will not rent or sell your email address. Visit our About Us page for contact details.