A Prediction: 2010, Social Media & Snake Oil

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

I made a small mistake this evening. I broke my self-imposed social media exile to retweet something by Alan Patrick, that linked to this post on his blog. And suddenly, I found myself besieged by unhappy social media pros that I respect.

There’s clearly an issue here. 🙂
So, let’s make something clear and then make a prediction for the coming year.
**The Clarification**
I am not saying all social media professionals are snake oil salesmen. For the last three and a half years I have earned my living exclusively by teaching people about social media. I am, by any definition, a social media pro. I may have been indulging in some Christmas “cheer”. but I have no desire to shoot myself in the foot. 🙂
The fundamental problem is this: the rise of Twitter and the social networks has made creating the veneer of social media proficiency easy. There are simple ways of building large follower bases without actually accumulating any genuine influence. The article I retweeted illustrates this exponential rise of carpet-baggers, self-proclaimed gurus who are happy to take people’s money for largely illusory return. And, in the meantime, those with genuine skills in this area find themselves marginalised by the charlatans.
**The Prediction**
So here’s the challenge for those of us who have a record in this space, who have genuine experience to share and have results to back up that learning:
**We have to find a way to differentiate ourselves from the snake oil salesmen.**
And let’s face it – it shouldn’t be hard. We have networks, and influence and page rank and all the tools that we have spent years developing. We should be able to do this. Sure, most of us are busy *doing the damn job*, but this is important. If we don’t fight back – if we don’t reclaim the name from those who abuse it, we’re going to create problems for ourselves in the medium term.
If we fail in this then the very words “social media” and the concepts that underlie them run the risk of being debased by the get-rich-quick merchants. And that’s a situation that will take years to recover from. 
Here’s my prediction: this fight is going to get more acute in the year to come, and a whole lot more vicious. 
But it needs to be fought.
And now, here’s a picture of a bird just to lighten the mood:
[![The Church Watchman](https://i0.wp.com/www.onemanandhisblog.com/content/images/2009/12/IMG_2663_2-thumb-500x333-1545.jpg?resize=500%2C333)](http://www.onemanandhisblog.com/assets_c/2009/12/IMG_2663_2-1545.html)
Tweet, tweet. 🙂
reputationsnake oilSocial Mediasocial media professionalssocial networksX (Twitter)

Adam Tinworth Twitter

Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.