Consultants – do we need them?

I ran across an interesting post today titled “Why you don’t need Social Media Consultants” on the Brains on Fire Blog.  The main thesis of the post is: “social media consultants provide little value…they do nothing more than you already know how to do so you don’t need them”.

In the article, Spike Jones says:

If you listen REALLY closely to their [social media consultant’s] advice, you start to realize that most of it you already know. Because you have all the basic tools you need: Your humanity. Your ability to communicate with people around you. And your intuition. Because when you think about it, using social media is just a natural extension of yourself. Asking questions. Listening. Responding. And remember, social media apps are tactics. And tactics are tools. Sure, you might need some guidance on how to use that bandsaw, but you picked up a hammer and pretty much got the gist after you hit your thumb a few times.

In other words, we’re getting all worked up about (wait for it, wait for it) common sense. Common courtesy. And the best way to find that is to take off your marketing hat and use the hat you were born with – being a person.

Emphasis mine.

I have an issue with this statement.  Most organizations don’t know how to be human anymore.

Before I continue…I wholeheartedly agree with the premise of Spike’s argument (i.e., we already know how to be human) but I would argue that most companies have removed much of humanity from business.  Many organizations have been built to remove the human side of the business and have replaced it with processes and management…I’ve written about this before in a post titled Humanity and Business“…jump over and read that post for more on the subject of bringing humanity back to business.

Take a look at Jay Baer’s comment on the above article.  In the comment, Jay makes a few valid points…one of them is:

What social media consultants do best – at least those focused on tactical agnosticism – is to help companies connect the dots, align internal resources, and understand not that social media is about more than tools and pressing buttons, but about a cultural shift that manifests itself up and down the organization.

Amen.  Re-read that (and Jay’s entire comment)….did you catch the powerful stuff there?

A good social media consultant should help an organization bring about cultural change. That’s exactly what any good consultant should do….help the organization understand how to change to adapt to new realities. Whether that reality is purchasing a new software platform or using social media to build relationships with clients.

Back to my original question: Do you need consultants? Hell yes you do.

Why?  Here’s a few reasons:

  • Consultants bring an external view
  • Consultants bring experience
  • Consultants bring expertise
  • Consultants bring relevance
  • Consultants bring authority

Whether you like it or not, consultants are a necessity.   Perhaps most organizations don’t need a social media consultant…but most organizations do need help understanding how to be more human.

That’s what a good consultant (social media or otherwise) sh0uld bring to the table.   A good SM consultant should help organizations understand how to be more human while building relationships with their clients.  A good IT consultant should help organizations bring humanity back to the IT organization by helping the organization understand that IT is more than processes, workflows and reasons ‘not to’.

Do you need consultants – yes you do. If you’re looking for a consultant, find one that ignores the technology, buzzwords and tools (at the beginning) and talks about your organization, your needs and hopefully they will also talk about being more ‘human’.  Find a consultant that talks about ‘humanity and business’ and hire them on the spot.  You’ll not regret it.

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