“Social media still matters very much,” said Adam Winters, one of 34 social-media consultant who attended last night’s Global Federation of Social Media Consultants (GFSMC) at the Airport Ramada in Newark, New Jersey.
The “Businesses Get Social” networking event, followed by a “meet and greet” at a nearby Denny’s, did not appear to attract clients or prospects. It was GFMSC’s first-annual event.
“The year before us, 2011, is what I’m calling “the Year of Social Media for Business Ventures,” said George Warrington, III, who began consulting when his 2-year Geek Squad career ended in October 2010 due to local Best Buy store closings. “It was perfect timing,” said Wilmington, whose independent film project’s $500 plea was not funded on KickStarter.
GFSMC’s founder, David Scheyd, launched his own consulting firm, “Cash In on Social Media 3.0,” from the basement of his uncle’s duplex. He and his girlfriend Terry (declined to provide last name) have plans to open an office, hire a virtual assistant and “sign on 10 lucky commission-only sales executives this week.”
Winters, Scheyd and Warrington are far from alone. The Record recently reported that many as 17% of full-time professionals are leaving their corporate roles to specialize in social-media consulting.
Like other slide-show presenters at what he called the “unconference,” Warrington received tempered applause from fellow consultants. Several took photos of his slides on their “smart phones” for their own uncredited use. Warrington, a former athletic trainer, provided the event’s keynote presentation titled: “Social Media: Can it Enable Businesses, Engage Customers, Increase Business Results, and Improve Shareholder Value?” His 64 Powerpoint slides displayed attention-grabbing quotes like “social media changes EVERYTHING,” and 2009 data from eMarketer. Warrington says he will take his firm global in March, and is considering a joint venture with some of the table companions he met last night. “I am probably going to focus on Asia because socia and business is very hot there,” he added.
During a lunch-time networking event, consultants shared business cards, personal histories, and “war stories” about difficult clients and prospects.
“Businesses just don’t get it,” said Roa Dasgupta-Banerjee, a former network engineer who last August turned social-media consultant. “If you don’t have Facebook, Twitter and things like that, how are you to be doing business in the future?” After a debate with those at his breakout table, Dasgupta-Banerjee departed the event in frustration, exclaiming, “if you don’t get it, you don’t get me.” He left behind a stack of perforated, inkjet-printed business cards. The cards provide his hotmail e-mail address and a custom AOL website that boasts “our management team: (coming soon).”
Debra Vantyme, founder of GetVerySocial-International.net!!, feels the market is “exploding like wildfire.” Her clients, which include two Harrison, NJ local restaurants, are “flocking to engage in web 2.0.”
“I’m having to turn away businesses, because demand is so strong for my ‘Get Social Business: Comprehensive Results!’ package,” says Vantyme, who left behind her stay-at-home telemarketing career to pursue what she calls the “new social media gold rush.”
“Both of my clients have different needs, so I customize my solutions to meet their individual situations,” says Vantyme. “For some, YouTube makes sense, and I take the hassle out of securing them a username, registering their account and confirming it via secure, password encrypted e-mail. Other businesses may benefit more from MySpace or Friendster.”
Vantyme’s “Get Social Business: Comprehensive Results!” program, which she offers for $65-$95, is a “turnkey” solution, and it provides clients a premium Facebook account, unique Twitter username and a “secure and registered” Gmail account. She also offers long-term retainer solutions, which includes “Get Monitoring Now!” a series of bi-weekly reports she administers using Google Alerts and SocialMention.com, a free monitoring service.
Like many of the attendees, Vantyme was enthusiastic about a “Big Dreams for a Small Business: Social Media Consultant” article that was photocopied and distributed by Robert L. Louderton, the event’s c0-chair. Louderton said he left his successful career in multi-level marketing late last year, and has attended four “Social Business Tweet-Ups” since Christmas. During these events, strangers from Twitter meet to discuss the emerging medium and financial implications. A recent event took Louderton to Trenton, NJ, which is more than an hour from his shared apartment in Central Ward.
Scheiro, who has published three eBooks, says he fires clients who don’t adhere to his “no-nonsense” process for “businesses looking for business success in social-media.”
- “First, you’ve got to commit senior leadership to changing everything they do to focus on the ROI of social media,” he says.
- Louderton recommends clients put aside sales and operation efforts for the first 8 weeks to “completely engage” in the new medium.
- Schiero provides “executive coaching” to clients using his trademarked “Social Business Roadmap,” as well as virtual-meeting rooms, eRooms, threaded discussions, instant chat and online communities.
“I’ve never been so exited about the forthcoming potential opportunities ahead of us as I am now today,” said Vantyme. “The future is what you make it to be, and the sky is the limit for businesses who are prepared to take advantage of social media to make lots and lots of money and ROI.”