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How to Distinguish Between Social Media And Social Marketing

September 27, 2010 By Carlos Miller in Miami: Local News  | 7 Comments


Hanging at the Burgies with my friends, whom I mostly met through social media. (Photo by Vanessa Montes)

A few months ago, one of our members posted a question on the forums, asking what makes a “social media expert,” which sparked a lengthy discussion into whether self-proclaimed social media experts were frauds or not.

Like many of the topics posted on Miami Beach 411, the conversation eventually turned sarcastic and it was determined that a true social media expert can more accurately be described as a social media whore.

At least in the case of the Burger Beast, who has turned his love of hamburgers and socializing into an annual schmoozefest he calls “The Burgies.”


The Burger Beast will tell you he is not a social media expert nor a whore for that matter, but the fact that he can organize an event by using his blog, Facebook and Twitter to attract more than 100 people shows he is doing something right.

Perhaps the Burger Beast is a little modest because at last count, there were more than 15,000 self-described social media experts whoring themselves on Twitter, which is what sparked the initial discussion.

Some of these self-grandiose gurus are based in South Florida, where Miami was recently ranked 20th most social media savvy city in the country, a surprising low ranking considering we’re a city that takes pride in whoring ourselves out.

According to Marc Girolemetti of Technorati, many people who describe themselves as social media experts are nothing more than modern-day snake oil salesmen who are capitalizing on the buzz term of the day.

And who can blame them considering that many companies these days are hiring social media managers, as a way to increase exposure and profits?

Girolometti explains:

As for those of us who have been in the online space prior to 2001, we all know that today’s Social Media Manager was yesterday’s Webmaster. Remember when everyone was pining to be a Webmaster and every company convinced themselves they needed one? Now I see an abundance of Social Media Manager openings. Like Webmasters, these positions have quickly become a commodity role and have no intrinsic value among internal senior staff and target young (AKA cheap) talent. However, since it’s the hot new title, people are climbing all over each other, like lobsters in a tank, for the job.

However, most “social media experts” are not Social Media Managers. They come from a variety of backgrounds and, though not scientifically proven, may base their expertise on simply joining Friendster, LinkedIn and Twitter prior to 2008. Dear “experts,” if you never joined Friendster, you don’t even qualify to give yourself the full-of-shit title. You haven’t lived social media unless you suffered through 20-minute photo uploads to Friendster.

Alex De Carvalho of Miami, considered by many to be a real social media expert, a man who even teaches a University of Miami class on social media, believes there are no social media experts.

“There are no social media experts because social media is still evolving,” he said.

He describes social media as the act of socializing using the tools of the internet.

“When people say they’re social media experts, they’re usually saying they’re experts in social media marketing,”

In other words, they’re spammers. Well maybe not quite because social media experts are skilled in not only promoting themselves, even if it is bombarding you with spam, they are skilled in receiving freebies, hence the term “whores.”

Conversation Marketing, a social media site, compiled a list of questions on how to evaluate a social media expert before hiring one.

  1. Do you have a blog?
  2. When did you start in social media?
  3. What is social media?
  4. What is a social media campaign?
  5. How do you monitor social media for a client?
  6. How do you measure ROI?
  7. How do you build an audience?
  8. Do you offer a guarantee?
  9. How did you learn all this stuff?
  10. How does social media impact SEO?

The Caffeinated Blog compiled a list of 10 signs to determine if you are a social media whore.

  1. Traffic to your site from social bookmarking sites crashes your server.
  2. You post links on niche social sites (that don’t relate to the content of the page you’re posting), just for the exposure. That’s like Paris Hilton doing an interview on the Food Network.
  3. You barter for Stumbles, Diggs, Sphinns, etc.
  4. You compete with your co-workers, friends, or family over who can build the largest LinkedIn network.
  5. You Tweet every time you get up from your computer…
  6. …which is maybe 3 times in a day…
  7. …although you tend to bring your handheld with you into the bathroom…
  8. …and it’s for that very reason that you’ve posted an impressive collection of photos you’ve taken of graffiti scrawled on public restroom walls.
  9. You have a Google Alert set up for the term “new social networking site”.
  10. You’ve created a social networking profile for your dog.

Make no mistake, I am a social media whore

I am far from a social media expert but I’ve been a journalist for years, meaning I’ve been known to whore my time out for free meals.

Most journalists frown upon receiving gifts or money in exchange for a story, but they will gladly accept a meal or drinks – as long as they can consume them while conducting their research.

So earlier this month when I was invited to the Lexus Safety Experience, an event where Lexus allowed us to race their cars through a lane of cones before slamming on the brakes in order to test the difference between anti-lock brakes and non-anti-lock brakes, I jumped on the opportunity.

After we test-drove several cars, we were treated to a catered lunch of chicken and pasta. They also gave us each a Lexus baseball cap, which is also acceptable because it’s really nothing but spam.

Would that event prompt me to buy a Lexus? Not on my social media whore salary, but it did prompt me to mention it in this article as well as include the following video.

In fact, Lexus is so in tune to the power of social media, that they are hosting another event tonight where they encourage people to catch a wine buzz before getting behind a wheel of the 2011 Lexus LFA.

It’s too late to RSVP, but a true social media whore can schmooze his way into any event.

Related Categories: Miami: Local News,

Carlos Miller is a featured writer at Miami Beach 411. He also operates Photography is Not a Crime, a blog about photographer rights, New Media and First Amendment issues.

See more articles by Carlos Miller.

See more articles by Carlos Miller

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7 Comments on

"How to Distinguish Between Social Media And Social Marketing"

The Dude Dean says:

You didn’t quote me on this one?  Come on now.

Posted on 09/27/2010 at 2:46 PM

Jeff Zelaya says:

Haha! Love the humor and the sincerity in it all. Great post.

Posted on 09/27/2010 at 3:10 PM

ryan teixeira says:

Some Social Media “experts” are now charging for their “seminars”. Is this new or am I just noticing?

Posted on 09/27/2010 at 3:23 PM

ines says:

Carlos…you always make me smile.  I **HEART** ALEX…said it at SFDB and will say it here….what a REAL dood! gotta love him!

Posted on 09/27/2010 at 10:23 PM

Mario says:

Carlos, you have to let us know ahead of time about these events, free wine and the chance to drive a Lexus!!

Posted on 09/27/2010 at 11:03 PM

Luke Scott says:

Your a sissy. You actually wrote that your a whore.

Posted on 09/28/2010 at 11:19 AM

UTS says:

My two year old will master this social media thing way before I do. It’s not like I’m really trying either. The issue though sparks just enough interest to dabble in it a bit.

Posted on 09/28/2010 at 7:33 PM

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