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Everyone has an opinion, but not everyone has a clue

Posted on August 10, 2017

 

I recently saw a post in a PR and marketing Facebook group from a lady asking for advice on running a Facebook Page. She wanted to know how to do something that was, frankly, quite easy to do and something that anyone proficient with running Facebook campaigns would be aware of.

Now, before you think me a bit of a snob for suggesting she should know how to do this just because I do, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with her asking this question in the group. It’s what the group is for, and you should always ask for help if you’re unsure on how to do something. For any advice to do with Facebook, it’s always better to ask than to Google it too, as most published help and guides online are usually out of date because of how quickly Facebook changes the way things work. In truth, most of Facebook’s own help section is out of date too and references pages and tools that are no longer there. So, asking is the best policy.

However, this lady wasn’t asking for herself – she was asking for a friend, and not in the ‘asking for a friend’ way that people do when they’re trying to conceal an embarrassing secret about themselves. No, she was asking as she’d offered her advice and assistance to someone else who needed help with their Facebook Page.

This is where I take issue.

Firstly, why would you accept help and advice from someone who clearly doesn’t know what they’re doing, or talking about, and, secondly, why would you even offer your assistance when you don’t know what you’re doing?

This frustrates me so much. If someone said to me they were having trouble getting their car started, I wouldn’t offer to take a look. I know nothing about cars. I wouldn’t offer legal advice to someone who had run into problems with the law, and I certainly wouldn’t try and diagnose someone’s ailments. If you have a problem, or need help, speak to someone who knows what they’re doing.

The problem with the internet is that everyone thinks they’re experts at everything after reading one post, one blog or one comment on a forum or group. I’ve seen this happen for over 20 years, and it doesn’t look like it’ll ever change.

For example, around 2007 I used to frequent an online marketing forum where people would post their questions and get advice from experts, but in order to be seen as experts, people would offer their advice based on the strength of what they had read from others. I saw someone ask a question, and have it answered, only to offer their ‘expert’ advice to someone else on the same subject a few days later.

What qualified them to give advice? They’d read a post from someone else a few days earlier, that’s what.

Where it was once common on forums it’s now common on Facebook in groups. I’m a member of, and run, several groups on Facebook on different topics and every day I see people offering their expert advice on subjects they either know nothing about or they’ve seen someone else comment on. One such group is called Beat the Bailiffs and Banks, and the subject of recording phone calls often crops up. Can you record them? Do you have to tell the person you’re talking to?

These questions are met with dozens of conflicting answers from people who clearly have no idea what they’re talking about. They’re still happy to offer their advice though. In offering the wrong advice, they’re merely arming someone else with incorrect facts to spread about when the next person asks the same question. That’s how these inaccuracies spread.

The answer, by the way, is ‘yes’. You can record a phone conversation in the UK and no you do not need to ask permission from the person you’re talking with, nor do you even need to tell them. You can’t, however, share that recording with anyone else.

If you ask this question on Facebook, you’ll get numerous different ‘expert’ answers though.

Let’s get back to this woman and her question about a Facebook Page. Some business owner needed help with their Facebook marketing and, instead of going to an expert, they asked someone who didn’t know how to do it but was willing to have a go anyway. Is that how you want to run your business? Did this business owner do what was right for their business?

It’s the same with online marketing, web design and any form of social media. There are thousands of people out there who offer these services without the first clue on how to do it. You only need to ask in a Facebook group about needing a website and you’ll get hundreds of replies from people saying they can do it, mentioning things like Wix, Squarespace and WordPress templates. I saw one woman this week saying she’d never pay more than £200 for a website.

Really, £200? An expert website designer would be expected to charge a minimum of £50 per hour for their experience and skillset. £200 is just four hours’ work, not including overheads or taxes, such as VAT or corporation tax. If a website bashed out in four hours is what you’re after, good on you. You can, of course, use Wix and have a website for free. Or you could find someone on Facebook who will ‘have a go’ but they don’t really know what they’re doing.

The internet is littered with websites built by people who ‘had a go’. Guess how many of them are successful websites generating hundreds of leads and sales for their owners?

The point of all of this is quite simple. If you want something done, you’ll always find someone who can do it cheap, or for free in exchange for the experience. You’ll find someone who will offer you advice based on their learnings, or opinions. The trick is in finding someone who actually knows what they’re talking about, and there’s not quite as many of them around.

 

Darren Jamieson

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 15 years’ experience in these fields.

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