July 20, 2011

Beware: 5 Ways to Spot the 'Social Media Douchebag' (or 'Guru')

1) They don't actually do anything.

I love my work and generally the people I work with are awesome. However, like with any industry, there are a fair share of douchebags out there. I often talk about how technology gives us tools to make our jobs easier and more fun to do. These "social media douchebags" (formerly "gurus") basically use these tools to try and take advantage and achieve success quickly with little work or effort. I hate this so much.

No matter what industry you are in, you need to work hard, make a name for yourself, establish relationships and connections, and use the tools to promote yourself. Be savvy. These guys (and they're almost always guys) call themselves "entrepreneurs" or whatever. They like to start or build things that never actually happen. They hide behind slick designs or appearances to impress or wow you (usually women).

Maybe they start "online magazines" with no content or writers. They have a lot of brands, but no actual product. Basically, they use the internet to hype themselves, their (non-existent) work and make them feel more important than they actually are. If you can't explain in two sentences vaguely what you do for a living, you do absolutely nothing.

2) The job title.

You are the founder/president/CEO/editor or whatever of a company you started, really? Come on.

Way too many kids throw around titles like "founder" and "president" far too liberally. To "found", "preside", or be CEO of something, you need actual things to be in charge of. I'm thinking partners, employees, clients, distribution, etc. You know, an actual business.

If you have a website and little else, I'm sorry but you haven't really done anything. Sometimes, I joke I'm the co-founder of RickChung.com.

3) Shortcuts to success.

These people try to use what little connections they have for personal gain. When there's a new trend, they jump on it: dating website, coupon deals, community blog, etc. Real entrepreneurs spot trends to enhance business and build communities.

Meetings where you pitch people who have actually done things and you try to hook them, is beyond misrepresentation. If you know me at all personally, you know how much I hate it when people misrepresent themselves.

These SMDGs start new Twitter, Facebook, and other social media accounts with every new half-baked venture or idea they have. After whatever little substance they offer, they get bored and move on. Social media is about investment, value return, and building personal relationships. I assure you, a decent to high Twitter following means nothing at all if all your followers are other eager SMDBs, especially when you got them through countless "retweet to win" or "like our page" contests (with seemingly no winners).

4) Answers, but no questions.

Anyone who claims to have answers about everything is a red flag. Social media is about questions, expanding knowledge, and moving forward. These jerks claim they are experts and want to be some sort of authority. If you are an expert of leading a movement in the community, your work speaks for itself. No one should claim to be an expert in anything. Show your work and explain what you do.

They are often slick (or trying to be) using buzz words and the latest tools, touting their own hollow "successes". If you tell yourself and whoever will listen, you are a somebody important, eventually enough dumb people will believe it and you'll believe it even more.

Actual professionals are too busy doing things to be constantly pitching, meeting, and soliciting other people or talk about themselves. Innovating is about asking questions and figuring out how things work. Offering solutions to customers without understanding industries, their problems, and how they work is an art of fallacy.

5) They stink.

These folks develop a "stink" quickly. Around Vancouver, I talk to my friends and colleagues about the same creeps who talk big and have little to show for it. They often have a decent following because they attract other douchebags looking to make it big or are good at creating false buzz. However, whenever I ask what you think of so-and-so, before a slight hesitation, there is the inevitable reply confirming their "douchiness".

You go to their company website or blog and look at there stuff and it becomes clear they are selling an idea and themselves with no tangible service. You quickly realize they're all show and no go. Ideas are just that without execution. If you say you doing something, actually do it. Show me. Six months of announcements, delays, and beta testing for something that will never launch is hardly anything.

Here's another clue, on their bio, they list a bunch of URLs. More than half of them redirect to another website or lead to a GoDaddy site registration expiration page. It's really easy to spot these D-bags.

Have a product, service, or proven track record of work and relationships. Please avoid going down the path of a social media douchebag. Work hard, make friends, and hopefully succeed.

Photo | Brian Smith

5 reactions:

Rick Chung said...

Hear, hear, Rick Chung.

Rick Chung said...

YES! Thank you for being audacious enough to say it out loud and say it so eloquently. As someone who firmly believes that a body of work speaks for itself, it pains me to see all the asshats who trumpet themselves as gurus and CEOs without actually having done anything. (Actually, a lot of your post reminded me of one guy who irritated me so much I stopped following him on Twitter.) 

Rick Chung said...

I think authenticity and humility is the key.  The reality is that when it comes to social media, nobody is an expert.  Some people might be a grade ahead but no one has graduated yet.  The medium continues to evolve daily.  Seeing people self-describe themselves as "experts" are usually not the ones innovating - the innovators are the humble ones who get excited by the fact that there is much more to learn as the media shift continues.  

Rick Chung said...

Love the post, Rick!

There are so many things that you talk about that resonate with me, not only from a social media perspective, but also generally in business and in many other aspects of life!

In terms of social media, I love this comment: "Social media is about questions, expanding knowledge, and moving forward." I also agree that asking questions and creating valuable relationships play a big rolewith innovation, learning, and growth.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences Rick!

Rick Chung said...

Thanks for this post. Some things need to be said! Staying humble and honest is the best way to deal with social media in general.

I've read somewhere that saying you're a social media guru means basically the same as saying you're a keyboard expert. Puts it in perspective (and gives you a chuckle!)

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