It’s Not the Size That Matters, It’s How You Use It


Herro folks! I’m Rebecca Kelley, and I’m here to kick-start guest blogging week at Outspoken Media. For those of you who aren’t familiar with me, I’m the Director of Social Media and blog manager for 10e20, the awesomest social media marketing company you can find in that big ol’ Internet playground (we usually hang out near the jungle gym). Think of me as the somewhat-Asian Lisa Barone.


Close enough.

Anyway, a couple weeks ago my lovely coworker Greg and I noticed someone tweet some lovely advice about how to hire a legit social media consultant. The tip was something along the lines of “Don’t hire a social media marketer who doesn’t have a Facebook profile or a Twitter account with fewer than 1,000 followers.” To that I offer up a resounding “Whuh?”

Being popular an expert does not make (a little Yoda wording for you). Having thousands of followers on Twitter doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing in the social media realm. The same goes for Facebook and MySpace — you could have thousands of friends and not know a damn thing about social media marketing. There’s a huge difference between marketing yourself and marketing for a client. For all I know, you could be friending and following everyone and anyone with an account. Quantity does not equal quality, people.

I know lots of great social media marketers with low-key Facebook profiles and less than 1,000 Twitter followers. Big deal — that doesn’t mean they’re lurking in a basement somewhere hissing at the sun and letting boxes pile up on their doorstep because they’re afraid to interact with the mailman. Their small group of followers is probably more targeted and more useful than the 10,000 a self-coined “social media expert” has. Maybe they’re too busy getting actual results for their clients than trying to greedily slurp up more followers to their already bloated accounts.

Of course, I’m not saying that every social media marketer with a huge public presence and a successful Twitter account is a phony who doesn’t know what he’s doing. That’s not the case at all. I just mean to say that not everyone with a smaller personal social media presence is automatically a non-expert. Look at other factors to judge by — if he/she has a smaller account, how is it being used? If there is no Twitter account or a limited presence, ask why and see what the justification is. Maybe there’s a good reason for the lack of presence — they’re promoting their company brand instead of their personal brand, or they choose to stay under the radar for marketing purposes, etc.

When looking to hire a social media marketer, instead of just checking the numbers to see how big they are, ask for a portfolio or some case studies/examples. See who they’ve worked with in the past and check to see how well their clients’ social media presence has been handled. After a little bit of research and some communication with the prospective marketer, you should get a good idea of whether this person seems to know what he’s doing and if he’ll be a good fit for your company’s needs. If you’re still unsure, try setting up a trial period. If you’re still unsure, find someone you’ll feel more comfortable working with. After all, it is your company and your brand.

Just don’t automatically assume that lots of followers + a large network = social media expert. Just remember, Heidi Montag has over half a million Twitter followers and I’m pretty sure she’s socially brain-dead. Just sayin’…


It’s like looking directly into Satan’s asshole.

Your Comments

  • Cookie Monster

    True say! Folk get carried away by numbers far too often to actually realise where the true quality lies.

    Without the hat….weeeellll I i’m not so sure; but with the hat – oh totally – you are the asian Jamie Varon! :D

    Good post!

  • Phil Buckley

    Rebecca’s advice is sound, and should be heeded, but come on, that picture of Lisa is priceless!

  • Jill Whalen

    Yeah. I’m actually more suspect of social media consultants who have 10,000 twitter followers than those with 500. I wouldn’t have even thought to look at the number of followers when choosing someone. (Unless they had like zero, I suppose!)

  • Brent Nau

    It is too easy to buy Twitter Followers. I also like to look at the Twitter account creation. This shows how cutting edge the “social media expert” is. If they created an account in 2009 – out.

    I do agree with the point that some times you are too busy to work on your own business accounts when you are focusing on client work.

  • Alysson

    If any Social Media Marketer’s main claim to fame and selling point when pitching a potential client is, “just look how many Twitter followers and Facebook friends I have…”, prospects should RUN – not walk – in the opposite direction.

    By the way, “It’s like looking directly into Satan’s asshole.” nearly caused Cherry Coke to come out my nose and into my MacBook. That would have been bad. You need to warn a girl! ;)

  • Kristinadee

    Either Heidi Montag or Spencer Pratt will be here to comment within 12 hours guaranteed… they can’t possibly not retaliate.

  • rebecca

    Outspoken Media and its guest bloggers are not responsible for the damage or flooding of Macbooks by Cherry Coke or other delicious beverages.


  • Todd Mintz

    It’s not the size…it’s the frequency (can’t believe I just said this in a blog comment…but it does fit).

  • Mike

    And wouldn’t you know it, Heidi Montag only has 24 friends.

  • Dana Lookadoo

    Great post, Rebecca!

    This principle was one of my favorite takeaways from SES! Agree, size doesn’t matter!

    I know of someone who claims to be a Social Media Marketing “veteran” who’s Twitter account was recently suspended. This person had a 500% follower increase in a few weeks. That’s like Twitter Viagra! If such a rise in followers is one’s approach, they won’t be around longer than 4 hours! :-)

    As Alysson said, if you see someone like this, run – don’t walk – in the other direction!

  • andrew wee

    IMO “Social Media” might eventually turn out to be a dirty word with the way it’s being abused.

    Is it equally the fault of clients who hire these “experts” without doing their due diligence and choose to get sucked in by these silly high school popularity contest metrics?

    Anyone who’s involved in any serious biz function should be able to ask for some deeper metrics/samples of customer engagement/CRM resulting from the clients’ past efforts.

    If anything, it’s a case for outspoken or 10e20 to put out more white papers/case studies and educate the uninformed.

  • Alan Bleiweiss

    OMG LOL Rebecca, I hadn’t thought it would be possible for someone to be able to guest-spot in such a Lisa-esque way – you have set the record straight on that tho…

    “Maybe they’re too busy getting actual results for their clients than trying to greedily slurp up more followers to their already bloated accounts.”

    I <3 u 4 sayin that.

    And uh, if lookin at Heidi is uh, what u said about Satans… well, I guess I like lookin where the sun don’t shine then!

  • Alex Lim

    Well said, the portfolio speaks more of a marketer than followers. People shouldn’t be blinded with the figures they are seeing, what isn’t seen is relevant. Past work experience and feedback from it resonates the value of marketer or rather see other metrics to consider. There are things that can be manipulated so look for the ones that cannot be. ss

  • Tim Staines

    No fair! You didn’t even tell us who the brilliant SM tipster was. But seriously, there’s always someone spouting some BS they know very little about.
    We recently took an site from bottom of page 1 to #2 for a main KW within a few weeks, then some douche picked that site to “call out” as having a poorly optimized site because it was only in the 2 spot with the domain name being the keyword. First of all, we’ll be there in the next couple weeks. Second, the dude works for a company who ranks 5th for it’s exact match domain name.
    Do we suck for not being in the 1 spot? Or, are we doing our job by having moved it up 8 spots already, while working on a bunch of other things with the site? . . . Fine, we suck!
    The problem is, these people often get to clients and mislead them into a contract before the client finds a decent company to work with. As a result, SEO and Social Media gets a bad rap, and a growing proportion of our clients have had a craptastic SEO firm before they get to us . . . go figure.

  • Sergey Rusak

    Hey, I don’t have Twitter at all because I have no time. Also, I have only 100 close friends on Facebook. I hate when people bother me on social sites… At the same time I can “kick your competitor …” in pay-per-click, SEO, social media.

  • Michael D

    I’m still trying to figure out if that hat on Lisa is photoshopped or not. :D

  • Michael

    Satan has an asshole?

  • Miguel Salcido

    Hey there Rebecca! Good to see you still gittin around. :-)

    What would you say about SEO consultants and companies? Does it make sense to say that if they can rank themselves for difficult keywords then they can do the same for you? I have to pose this question because it is totally relevant to the conversation but is different because SMM and SEO are different.

  • rebecca

    @Tim Staines,

    I honestly don’t remember who the person was who tweeted that (I have an alert set up for “social media” and it was a random person I don’t know).

    @Michael D,

    You can’t tell because my PS skills are so damn good. :P

    @Miguel Salcido,

    That’s a tough question. I think that an SEO company with a proven track record of ranking for competitive keywords/phrases is a good indication of how good they are. I’m not saying that they need to rank #1 for “seo company” or “search engine optimization,” but they should at least have a site that is fairly well optimized.

  • Miguel Salcido

    Thanks Rebecca, I wanted to add that having a good track record of client results, and testimonials are unparalleled when it comes to proving your worth to a client or prospect. Industry authority (how well you are liked by your peers), fancy offices, large staff, none of these matter at the end of the day. But if you have a consistent track record of great client results it is good as gold!

  • Tiffany Patterson

    I completely agree size does not matter. I met someone a couple years back, she knew nothing about internet marketing, social marketing, or building websites. (I’ve been in the tech field for longer than i want to notate, b/c in my mind i’m still 21 forever). She is now part of the community and claiming to be an expert in the area, what a fucking joke. I guess there is that saying “Fake it ’til you make it”…applies here.

  • Patrice

    This is really true and very well explained.