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5 Telltale Signs Your Digital "Expert" Might Not Be One After All

They've branded themselves as an "expert" on social media. They likely have thousands of followers. They talk a big game and make digital marketing look like only rockstars can do it. But what if they're not who they say they are?

In the past several months, I've come across digital marketing experts who are building reputations that are less than savory.

Each scenario below is based on a real life example.

5 telltale signs your digital "expert" isn't one:

1. They insist on having sole access to login information. This is a small thing that can make a huge, devastating difference. And I know what you're thinking: "Maree, this is SO obvious." But I've seen it happen too many times when companies have their social media accounts held hostage (for lack of a better term) by so-called marketers. If your digital expert can't provide community access to password and login information, or if they change it on you unexpectedly, this is a major red flag. All parties should be able to have administrator access to pages when they need. If you can't trust one another and be open with this information, the relationship is likely doomed from the start.

My advice: Use a program like Last Pass or other method of sharing passwords to sensitive accounts. Check passwords periodically to ensure the last one you have on record is the one that actually works. Protect your accounts and make sure you ALWAYS have access to them.

2. They provide recommendations without providing any real source as to where it's coming from. I don't care if you have 5 years of experience or 25+ years of experience, you need to be able to provide data or other third-party information for the recommendations you give to clients. And -- no -- your personal anecdotes don't count.

My advice: If you're unsure about a marketing recommendation someone gives, take 5-10 minutes and Google it or ask someone you trust. You might be surprised how much is pulled out of thin air or is recommended for other reasons besides "it's the right thing to do".

3. They just like to be spontaneous. There is NOTHING wrong with spontaneity. I've bought many pieces of clothing based on spontaneity alone. But when it comes to your business's reputation, you can't really hang your hat on it.

My advice: Insist on some kind of plan, even if it's a loose one. Read #4 very carefully to achieve some kind of balance here.

4. They over-plan and over-think! They want every detail planned out; they want every "t" crossed and every "i" dotted (but like in a really anal sort of way). There is often a v10 or v11 of the documents they send over for you to review.

My advice: There MUST be a balance to numbers 3 and 4. Yes, you should have a plan, but in today's digital climate, those plans CANNOT be concrete. Because things happen. Things go viral. And perfectly cemented plans can always be thrown out the window when they do. A real digital expert understand this.

5. They've never managed a community. I've often said that I don't trust people who have never worked retail nor waited tables, and the same kind of thing can be said about digital experts. Skill and knowledge are very important, but soft skills, empathy, and the ability to build human connections within digital space are just as important.

My advice: Find someone to work with who has followed their own advice. Find someone who can be conversational and connect with others through digital channels. If they don't practice what they preach, their expertise is null and void.

What do you think?

Are there any red flags you would add to this list?

Maree Jones is a PR, Social Media and Content specialist. Connect with Maree on social media at @MareeJones on most networks (like Twitter or Instagram). You can find her on LinkedIn at

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