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The Social Media Motivational Speakers and the Consultants/Strategists

Posted by on August 24, 2009


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?

  • I see a lot of truth in your thoughts on this subject, however, I'm curious to know how much good comes out of the work of a “social media motivational speaker” vs. a “social media consultant/strategist. I feel like in the case of the former, the results of these efforts, while playing a positive role in encouraging organizations to take the leap into social media, often lead to poor business practices and the negative consequences of rushing in and misusing social media tools and tactics. (Note: tactics, not strategies)

    I think it is best to be, as you say you are yourself, someone who can talk the talk when necessary, but can follow it up with real, actionable, sustainable practices that will outlast that initial high received from the great social media pep talk and help organizations transform their business practices for the better with concrete strategies and internal education.

    • Hi Justin,

      You make a good point but this is why I think the consultants and speakers need to work more closely together. Companies need to realize who the speakers are and who the strategists are. Without these speakers I think we would see a much slower adoption rate of companies using social media. I agree that it would be best to be both a speaker and a strategist but unfortunately that's not what we are seeing. Companies at this point are naive and still don't know what to look for.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • ikonn

    Hey Jacob,

    I believe it is important to play both roles being a motivational speaker and a strategist. You have to be a social media motivational speaker when pitching to a client and to really get them excited as you've mentioned. And you have to be a strategist in order to put all the talk in to action.

    However, you can transform yourself into being just a social media motivational speaker if got the success stories and great endorsements behind you.

    I believe all of us really have to be able to walk the talk and not just talk the talk.

    Alex “50/50” Ikonn

    • Hi Alex,

      Definitely agree and in the next year those that can't walk the talk aren't going to succeed.

      Thanks for the comment

  • Dan

    You missed the point of social media entirely. I am surprised that someone of your “thought leadership” would endeavor to elevate yourself by bringing down another class of professionals. There is no way to responsibly generalize these two populations as you have without a sanctioned survey. Your segmentation of social media speaker and strategist – or whatever – is baseless. No references, no citations, no definitions – very dangerous.

    There are many great motivational speakers that came out of trenches. What about the Gals? Consider revision.

    Also found typos on your “About” page.

    • Perhaps you can enlighten me with some of your social media wisdom?

  • I like to think that I'm a consultant/strategist. I do know that no one pays me to “inspire”. They pay me to “deliver”.

    Just my two cents.

  • jameshutto

    Great thoughts, Jacob- I really enjoyed this. I am seeing a lot of the Motivational Speakers lately, and not as many people who are actually involved in implementation and execution.

    Forget about having to have a survey- this was about your perception of the players in the social media space, and I, for one, agree with you. Its been interesting to see they guys who are so involved in the academic aspect and “talking” about social media, that it doesn't seem that they are doing any actual work.

    I do feel that it's important to have some kind of a balance, but that's just me personally. I find that by doing some of the motivational part, it brings about the opportunities to work as the consultant.

    • Hi James,

      The speaking does bring about the consulting gigs provided that you can actually deliver. There are some folks out there that I just don't think can deal with complex business issues, yet they make for kick ass speakers!

  • virtualpm

    Good article because you make a very important distinction. As a Project Manager I know the importance of identifying the roles and then allocating the right people to the required roles. That way you get quality work done on time and within budget. It is the same principle that applies here. Both SM Motivational speaker and SM consultant have important roles to play in this Social Media revolution ensuring that companies entering the Social Media realm do so with the right motives and strategies in place.

    • Thanks for the comment. Both are definitely important and I'm hoping in the future both can also work closer together.

  • I must say that I am a social media consultant/strategist.

  • recware

    Thanks for contributing your knowledge about this useful information. Less than 20% of online adults don’t use social tools. I think all of us should use social tools.

    Thanks & Regards
    Ashley Brooks

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  • VirginiaAMckinney

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  • kimsmith79

    Bert Martinez is an award winning motivational speaker, entrepreneur and trainer who amazes audiences, and transforms businesses. He does presentation skills training, sales training courses, improving negotiating skills, employee motivation by Improving people Skills, and enhancing your business leadership skills. Check out

  • What is going on in the present world is very well brought out …and also the awareness of the social media in reality is is explained clearly….

  • milenaregos

    Thank you for the post. I think you bring in an interesting point about the people who speak. Some of them are entirely consumed with speaking engagements and have little time to practice what they preach. My respect goes to people who are constantly practicing social media in the real world and take the time to educate on their findings and lessons learned.