I think there are two types of social media professionals today: the social media motivational speakers and the social media strategists (or consultants). We need both, but they serve very different roles within the social media space and within organizations.
The social media motivational speaker:
I won’t list out any names here because I don’t want anyone to get offended (even though they shouldn’t) but the social media motivational speaker’s role is to mainly get people and organizations excited about the use of social media. These are the guys that talk about the importance of social media and how it’s going to change the landscape of business. They are good at getting organizations pumped up and excited for social media and oftentimes you’ll find them giving keynote talks at large conferences. They usually focus on the higher level points of social media such as the importance of listening, tips for blogging, ways to build outposts, etc. The social media space would not be growing at such a rapid pace if it weren’t for these guys and we would definitely not see as many large brands experimenting with new media.
The social media consultant/strategist:
These are the guys that work within organizations to solve business challenges. They have a business background and speak the same language as executives and managers within an organization. They tackle things such as identifying ROI/Impact metrics, implementing social media across an organization, corporate culture, business/technology issues, etc. The social media consultants/strategists are the guys that come in and make things happen after the motivational speakers prime the pump (so to speak). It’s great to have motivational speakers but only the consultants/strategists are really able to deal with issues such as rolling out a social media strategy across franchise organizations (from the corporate to the franchise level), working with 1000+ employee companies on developing social media adoption plans, clearly identifying an organization audience, analyzing competitors, and really ingraining social media within an organization.
So just to recap the main distinction between social media motivational speakers and the social media consultants/strategists is that the motivational speakers get people excited about the space and the consultants/strategists really help take things to the next level with analysis and strategy. I like to consider myself more of a consultant/strategist who can also play the role of the motivational speaker but what I really enjoy is working on ideas/strategies for companies that are looking to get involved in the social media space. The motivational speakers and the consultants/strategists need to work more closely together because there is a lot that one can learn from the other.
Are you a social media motivational speaker or a consultant/strategist? Who would you put into each category?