Does your company suffer from Outside Expert Syndrome?


I was in a meeting this morning with some of SAS’ most active social media marketers: a solid group of smart folks who understand the value of social media and are integrating social into their campaigns in practical, measurable ways that add real value. It’s always an exhilirating discussion.

We’re planning a half-day social media session for all of SAS Americas marketing, to be held in August, so we’re working on the agenda and looking at survey results to see what our colleagues most want to know. (Sneak peek: people are still very eager to learn about how to use Twitter more effectively).

As part of the larger two-day meeting, we’re considering bringing in an outside speaker to get the group energized and thinking about new possibilities. As one person in the meeting put it, “We talk about this stuff all the time. It’s always good to hear from someone outside the company.”

I agree completely. But it’s also a bit ironic. Most of the people in that room are active, engaged and enthusiastic users of social media and are learning - even developing - practical ways to use it. So why do we need someone to come in from the outside?

Call it the Outside Expert Syndrome. I know I’m not the first person to notice it, or perhaps name it. Sometimes we just need the validation from someone outside our company that We’re Doing it Right.

So here’s my proposal. Let’s create the Outside Expert Network. We’ll send someone to your company to tell your colleagues what you’ve been saying for months. And you can come here and tell our colleagues what we’ve been saying for months.

Everybody wins!


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  1. Brian McDonald on

    Great points and I agree many of your co-workers are social media experts. The strategy you mention is one of the reasons why I'm involved in the Triangle AMA so much. Our special interest groups allow professionals from all businesses to get together and discuss what works as well as what fails from time to time. Also it allows you to go beyond the meeting and ask the person if you could take them to lunch and learn more about how and where they've developed their expertise in a specific subject. We don't always need outside experts to come in and confirm what we're already doing.

  2. As an outsider to your company, I agree completely. If you're ever passing through DC, you have carte blanche to stop by and confirm for us any time.
    But there are always fine points we can pick up from others as well as share with them. Social media is in constant flux and adapts to many different situations in many different ways. I was at a meeting with social media directors of the American Red Cross and Environmental Defense Fund -- folks at the top of the nonprofit comms world. We validated a whole lot for each other, but there was considerable cross-pollination too.
    I also find that validation from outside experts helps in situations when you're surrounded by measurement-conscious executives who don't fully understand social media but are anxious to showcase value at every turn to their boards and peers.

  3. I agree that validation from outside experts can help especially if the people around you doesn't fully understand social media.

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    Excellent point. It is possible that people in your own company may not know of how exactly social media works. Having outside experts can be a way of helping them.

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    Outside experts can be very helpful to people in a company who doesn't know how exactly social media works.

  6. In my former life in news, I always thought it was weird to bring in consultants to tell us stuff we already knew. There was a reason that everyone whispered "insultants," and frankly it hardly ever translated into real changes in the newsroom.
    In the case of social media, though, I think you're right; using social media for marketing purposes is new to a LOT of people, and getting validation that the plan you're rolling out is a good one can help bolster the people just getting on board. Like Doug said, it also helps "prove" value to people who are still wary of the entire idea of social media in business.
    And after reading comments 3, 4 and 5 -- I'm going to go start my diet! (sorry, I just read your other blog post and couldn't resist)

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    Its a good option to have outsiders to point out somethings like social media in a company. not all knew about the relevance of this.
    you are right chris, reading comments 3-5 makes me think twice of my diet.

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    There are times that outside experts brings more information regarding social media than any of us in our company.

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