Steve - College Kid

Steve, your hypothetical Internet Marketing Coordinator!

Something I’ve often come across over the past few years is a frustration with who’s in charge of a business’ digital media and marketing. Since it’s a relatively new industry, I understand the confusion on who’s qualified to help your business and who’s definitely not, with quite a bit of in-betweeners. As a common courtesy to my readers, I thought I’d give you a quick list on three individuals who definitely shouldn’t be spearheading your campaign into the digital abyss.

The General College Kid

Having graduated college within the past few years, I see this a lot: small businesses turn to the youngest employee because he’s “on the Twitter” and always “fixes the computer” when Microsoft Word won’t open a .docx file.

The problem is that while “Steve*”, your hypothetical employee, has a general understanding of social networking, he lacks the focus on results based marketing in these networks. Knowing how to interpret your analytics and assessing how effective social media is in achieving your goals, and then tweaking your efforts is essential.

Also, these networks are constantly changing and require quite a bit of attention. If their regular day-to-day tasks are keeping them away from a computer, odds are your impromptu IT guy shouldn’t also be your digital media professional.

Bob Romell aka Bob the Sales Guy aka WebMediaExpert aka SendSocialMedia

While I was doing research for my agency’s new social media monitoring platform, I came across Chicago’s own Sprout Social. I tweeted the CEO of Sprout Social to let him know how much a pleasure his sales staff was to work with, but came across this tweet in his stream:


I did a quick check on SendSocialMedia and found they have an automatic search feed that responds to anyone who’s tweeted for insight on Sprout Social or Hootsuite. Once this search is triggered, it issues an auto-responder with an attempt to entice them to look elsewhere for social media management– more specifically their service.

Poaching customers is always sketchy, regardless of industry, but in this case it’s even worse. Any coherent Internet marketing manager will tell you best practice in social media highly frowns upon an auto-responder. Social media is about engaging your audience and creating a relationship, not blasting them with a very impersonal message.


The instant you enter your business into directories across the net, you’ll start to receive companies and individuals guaranteeing the holy grails of the Internet– number one in Google searches, 10,000 Facebook likes, 20,000 followers, and a date with Kate Upton [Full disclosure: that last one might be an exaggeration.]

The problem with these guarantees? Well this is actually another blog post in the pipeline, but in short you’re probably scoring high in the keywords you’d be paying for, likes and followers are practically meaningless (audience engagement is what you should strive for), and Kate Upton won’t be going out with you. She’s taken. By me. [Full disclosure: also might be a bit of an exaggeration.]

Companies and individuals which work like this are a dime a dozen, so be weary of the promo emails and fliers you receive. They’ll try to weasel their way into your digital strategies with nothing innovative or unique to contribute to your business.

Did I miss any sub par examples of agencies/individuals you’ve encountered? If so, leave a comment or shoot me a message and let me know!

*All names appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Except for Bob Romell, he actually exists. Tweet him, he’ll probably autorespond.


  1. Mr. Nye says:

    Wow, couldn’t have hit home any better. It’s a shame and quite frankly kinda fraudulent that this sort of misrepresentation occurs. Watch 5 years from now how the mismanagement of a company’s online persona is the cause of their downfall.

  2. pete says:

    Also, ‘SendSocialMedia’ is just reselling a white labeled version of Sendible, they don’t have their own application.

  3. Thanks Mr. Nye. I’d say we’re well into a timeframe where a company’s online persona can be the cause of their downfall. Take a look at how social media accelerated the uprising in Egypt; on a smaller scale, it definitely could accelerate a businesses demise.

    Pete, thanks for the info. It’s been a pleasure using the Sprout Social app, keep it up!

  4. Stephanie says:

    I love Send Social Media. I think the auto responders are awesome. I was sick for a week! But thankfully I knew the “I” was able to be out there chatting with my fans and followers. Not literally, of course. But once I was able to get back up on my feet, or to my computer rather, I was able to back track and catch up on what I missed. Gotta love social media for taking care of the flu!

  5. I completely disagree, Stephanie. There’s a difference between scheduling general updates and setting up an auto-responder. Scheduling updates with a link, story, or piece of content is necessary (most people aren’t infront of their computer all day) but then it should always be followed up with to see your audiences reaction. Auto-responding to certain terms and keywords is annoying, spammy, and far from best practice. Especially when it’s customer poaching.

    In retail, it’s comparable to having a programmed voice say “Thank you for shopping, goodbye!” and a live person standing by the door to ask how your experience was. Which of these two would you think has a higher customer retention rate?

  6. Stephanie says:

    Well, Joe. I guess I just don’t agree with you and your slander towards people and their businesses.

  7. George says:

    I agree with Stephanie, this is slander

  8. Bob Romell says:

    I would hire me.

  9. Bob Romell says:

    Also, it was SendSocialMedia’s keyword notification that allowed me to find your comments. Our system works well!

    • I don’t doubt your system works well at all! I just don’t agree with the practice of auto-responders. But hey, if you’re making sales and your clients are happy, then who cares what I think.

      Thanks for the comments!

  10. Katie M says:

    There is a lot to be said about using a social platform to take a proactive approach to monitoring brand related keywords, or even competitor’s keywords, but the issue Joe is addressing is using that valuable information to auto-respond to a possible potential client/customer who did not solicit your information in the first place.

    Auto-responders are appropriate for emails if you are out of the office for a period of time, but because of the “real-time” fast moving nature of social media, there is no place for generic autobot responses. As someone who works in PR and marketing and has to advise clients on best practices for social sedia, I would never recommend they use an auto-responder. It is salesy, fake and gives off the impression that a customer is not worth the time for a real-life response.

    If a situation happens where you cannot respond because of something like the flu, then wait until you are back on your feet, use your platform to find out who has reached out to you and respond then. A personal response a few days late is worth so much more than an instant response from an e-robot!! But NEVER, EVER auto-respond to someone through social media who did not proactively solicit your information. To me, that’s a red flag, and I would most likely mark you as spam. It only takes one social media misstep to accidentally brand yourself in the industry as spammers. Which I’m sure no company wants.

    Every company makes mistakes, ones similar to this even… but this post should be a wake-up call to companies “doing it wrong”.

  11. Jon W says:

    Auto responding to a competitor’s name just seems like a way to label oneself “dysfunctional and desperate” to ‘net savvy folk IMHO.

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  15. Jim says:

    Found your blog on a search and after reading it I find it very funny that someone who feels entitled enough to be giving advice on “best social media practices” shows an obvious lack of blogging etiquette and character by taking a direct and obvious slam on a competitor. Even goes so far as to call out an exact person’s name. Who hired you? I really hope you are not writing blogs for them. I feel blogging is not your ideal career path….

    • Unfortunately Jim, no traffic came to my blog via search engines in the past two days.

      Coupling that information with the fact your IP address shows the posting location of your comment in Cincinnati (where #2 on the list happens to be located), forces me to believe you are associated with that agency, giving your comment absolutely zero credibility.

      If helping small businesses by providing them with my “entitled” advice on best practice, tips, and tools is wrong… then I don’t wanna be right!

  16. Shannon says:

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  17. David Filius says:

    yes promises that don’t deliver! i get 5 calls a day about guaranteeing the holy grails of the Internet ! Do it yourself!

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