Is this an underhanded way to find a social media expert? | Convertiv

Is this an underhanded way to find a social media expert?

Wait I shouldn’t say “expert” I should say people who are really hungry for a job and willing to be exploited in order to get it. (That is a tad long for a blog title.)

Before I go into my little rant I want to say that finding qualified people with experience in social media is hard. You have people who can really create numbers through various programs but have no ability to target or strategically use social media. You know the types, they can get your site to the front page of but when you look at your traffic you notice that the average time people were spending on your site was four seconds.

Then you have another group of people who can talk about social media conceptually but have no ability to actually execute a plan and have no real understanding of the nuts and bolts of strategy.

Because of this I totally get it when people want you to “show them” things you have done for yourself, past clients, or past employers. Examples help potential employers and clients understand what you do, what you can do for them, and some sort of expected results. This is all well and good.

What I am seeing from Vidli though is absolutely disgusting. Basically for their “social media expert” position they are running their application process it like a competition. Whoever can drive the most traffic to their site using a link that they create for them gets a crack at the job. So basically, if this goes according to their plan, they will get a ton of people promoting their site in order to get a job. They would be building a user base off the back of people who desperately either want to break into social media, need a job, or are pretty needy.

I don’t find it clever at all. I find it to be pretty exploitative and to be frank about it, a total asshole move. (Even the guy in the video comes off as used car salesman.)

I understand that they are doing this for publicity and I know I fell into the trap and gave it to them along with a link. (Hey I at least I made it no follow.) Right now the economy is bad, we all know it and a lot of people have it pretty bad. Preying on people’s desperation in order for your company to garner some attention isn’t a “cool” or “hip” marketing technique.

What do you think?

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24 thoughts on “Is this an underhanded way to find a social media expert?

  1. It sounds like an interesting way to get measurable results for a position that is as you said, hard to measure. There are few out there that are social media experts.

    I completely agree that it goes against the grain, but even in a good economy – creativity like this is often looked at with varying opinion.

    If someone can prove their expertise beyond a resume, I say good for them.

    • It is measurable because people clicked on a link but it doesn’t show anyone knows anything about social media.

      That is a number that can be gamed, easily. Does that show a person can create a sound campaign over the long term of a position or just juice numbers by leveraging a personal network that has no interest in the site or their product?

      It is creative in the fact that they are going to get people to do free work in promoting a site for a modestly paid position. (Putting in a ton of effort before you get anything out of it.)

  2. Hey Kevin,

    I’m the used car sales man. Where I come from that’s more like a compliment. So thank you, sir.

    We’re using Omniture’s SiteCatalyst to track this competition. So when you say “absolutely disgusting” you must be referring to the totally sick level of granularity we’re able to get on this. I guarantee we’ll know whether or not someone knows something about social media.

    A “total asshole move” is a pretty big statement since my company is creating jobs in this economy. What are you doing? Bashing startups for “exploitation.” What?!? Two Big Booby flippers down for you pardner…

    We’re looking for the best of the best. For some that might mean a single well placed link on a blog (hardly a monumental effort). For others that might mean telling their friends on Facebook (hardly a monumental effort). Maybe, just maybe, you care enough to pay-it-forward to land an incredible job. I’ve looked at so many resumes I’m blue in the face. This is about RESULTS. Period.

    And yes. This helps us. We need to get the word out before we launch. News flash…we’re a startup. We don’t have a mega-budget to waste on frivolous advertising and things that “might” deliver results.

    I see you did a hideous job ripping our logo from the site. If you would like me to send you a high resolution image I would be glad to accommodate such a request.

    It’s not to late to apply. Even though you have called me bad names and made slanderous accusation of exploitation we can still be friends. I just hit you up on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. I’m curious to see if you accept my friendship.

    ~ Sean

    • Hey Sean thanks for the reply.

      I actually have hired two new people, I guess I’m doing something right for the economy. (Of course I didn’t ask them to do work for me for free before they started, maybe that was a wrong move on my part.) I would throw my hat in the ring but really you guys couldn’t afford me. :)

      See my comment above about this bringing in the best of the best. Something like this doesn’t demonstrate the ability to create a larger campaign and strategy. I have a client that is a startup and there is a huge difference between sending page views and getting customers. Sure this is ending up as a branding play. So congrats that you guys are going to be known as the startup that used people desperate for a job to get some sort of user base.

      While I agree a resume doesn’t display what people have done getting free labor out of people that are a bit desperate isn’t the most ethical thing in the world. Granted you only had like 19 people enter so it isn’t a big deal but if you had a few hundred or thousand enter it is flat out exploitation. This is the equivalent of asking a web designer to do spec work, any that are worth their salt are going to see it the same way I see this campaign as someone that works in social media.

      I accepted all the invites. I don’t dislike you personally just what you guys are doing.

      As far as the logo goes, I really just took the image available in a Google image search. I really didn’t put a lot of thought in grabbing the logo, kind of like you guys didn’t put a lot of thought in the morality of your application process…. Err… I mean contest.

  3. Kevin,

    We are now official friends. Hooray!

    You have spun this into a “morality” issue. Bravo, my new friend. However, any logical analysis would show your beef with us totally assumes people applying to this position are “desperate.” It totally assumes people “worth their salt” don’t want the job. What if they’re not desperate? What if they just want to land a kick ass job that allows them the opportunity to get in on a start up with unlimited potential? Well then your argument falls flat on it’s face.

    However, in respect of your position and your moral bugaboo I will add a disclaimer to the job position to address anyone who might be “desperate.” I will let them know this is not the position for them and that some believe their desperation may get “exploited” if they choose (by their free will) to apply and proceed.

    It’s also abundantly clear to me you’re not familiar with SiteCatalyst. Otherwise you would realize this isn’t about page views or creating a user base (of people that aren’t potential customers) or the ability to architect a massive social media campaign. It’s about someone demonstrating the ability to create online conversions. It’s a simple metric we believe predicts future success on our team – more so than a “resume” – especially in social media. In this case the conversion is a registration on our splash page. This should be more clear on the job posting as well. So I will update that too.

    Thank you for your help and feedback. I mean that. This is all about being stewards of integrity and social media together.

    ~ Sean

    PS – But… we can afford you. I’ll be sure to tell our development team of talented code artists and UX designers you think you’re all that to throw down such a statement. They will get a good laugh.

    PPS – It makes me sad you think Dan Cook is “untalented.” 2 booby flippers down again…

    • How is this situation not a morality issue? You are exploiting a labor force to get free work with the golden carrot at the end being a single job for one person. It isn’t spinning anything it is a fact. Let’s take away the desperation idea, I will concede that not everyone is desperate for a job. But a kick ass job? It seems to me that you are a startup that doesn’t have the money to create a buzz so you are using cheap tactics and free labor to do so. Not a company a lot of people would want to work for. I’d love to see the quality of applicants taking you up on this challenge.

      I am well aware of SiteCatalyst from Omniture and how it tracks and segments where people are coming from. If people are really starting all these conversations and busting their ass for this job than what you are doing is even more sad and desperate.

      Like I said before, you couldn’t afford me. You list what the job pays, I wouldn’t get out of bed for that much. But this isn’t about me or my skill level. (Where did I say I do UX design or coding?)

      The debate has nothing to do with me though, I am not sure why you keep trying to turn it into that it is all about the morality (or lack thereof) of what you are doing.

      P.S.- Dane… not Dan Cook does suck. He steals jokes from Louis CK who is a much better comedian. But then again I am not shocked that you are into a guy that takes the fast track. You probably think Mind of Mencia is genius.

  4. I agree it seems like this is a free way to get people to do something for nothing. I’m no Social freak but I do know people all over the world with my profession. Most of which I met from Facebook or MySpace in its day.

    I feel you will get your company off with a bang due to more people knowing about you at the most. Good luck in finding this Social Freak of Nature!

  5. Kevin, quick FYI – we’ve had some great applicants apply the last week to the competition…Lots of measurable results and positive feedback… I was thinking of you when I read this article.

    From the article: “the self-proclaimed experts range from legions of wannabes, many of them refugees from the real estate bust, to industry superstars…”

    Measurable results ensure we do not hire social media snake oil or someone from the legion of wannabes.

    Yeah Boobies!

    • You are totally missing the point and attempting to spin the debate, like you set out to use this to hire the most qualified candidate. (And your original pay structure wasn’t going to be attractive to anyone with any real experience… And you know that. That is why you changed it.) It has nothing to do with it being measurable. It has everything to do with you guys getting free work out of people hungry for a job.

      What the hell do you care? You get attention for it. Yeah exploitation!

      • Thanks for posting this.
        I had some of the mixed emotions. To be honest, as a concept, the contest seems like a pretty cool idea.
        But how will it play out in practice?
        Im not out to get Vidly. I had no opinion one way or the other.
        In fact, I even signed up for the contest.
        But…this is how things seem after 30 minutes of web searches…

        The Vidly blog is an interesting place that seems to value white suits and short skirts over substance and product value, and will slander anyone who doest “get on board” with the hype.

        I also find the thinly veiled threats in Sean Murphys comments
        very very revealing as to the nature of Vidly’s internal culture. Cut Throat is the term I think.

        I cant find any technicals on how they will be offering something new. Yes they have HD, which is pretty cool. Yes its easy to link to twitter, and the interface is pretty nice. Kudos to the guys who actually wrote the code.
        You know the truth is, I actually want to like them. They are trying something new. And I love that. But they also seem to be missing the importance of good relationships.

        The only conclusion I can come to after searching WITHOUT and agenda, is that the product is not all that innovative, and they are using hype and manipulation to try to fill in the gaps.
        With as intelligent as Sean Murphy seems to be judging from some of his posts on 42topics, im surprised that all this seems to be the case. But then this is probably all about money, and not about people. And that is when things get really really ugly.
        I could be wrong, but that’s how it seems.

        • You know what else these guys did?
          They used the “Job Contest” to get “HUNDREDS” of falsified votes on the Vator splash, and the Keiretsu Forum Competitions.

          The joined the Vator site in early December and blew past EVERYONE in a matter of weeks with over 400 votes, twice the amount from the closets competitor.

          All this without a working product! I hope the investors don’t fall for their snake oil! Or the “Budd Bundy” look alkies sales crap.

  6. ( never mind it magically showed up! here is what I wrote originally )

    I have to admit this is a funny thread boobies and all! :P

    btw: Update on the “social media expert job” still remains at 65 k! Wooooohhoo!

    I applied and don’t expect to get a response back from them BUT IF I DO I shall reveal my identity :P two can play at this!

    So my “attitude” and “bias” might turn up or down rapidly here after this post lol … but my initial take is this. You BOTH got points!

    Who wudda thunk it! ??

    First, off anyone who is looking for a “social media expert” know’s the first rule in Social Media is NOT to attack your dissenters! Rule #1 in the Social Media Handbook Mr. Murphy! ALWAYS *LISTEN* and respond as if he the end user is right! Is this how Vidli run’s it’s social brand on the internet? If so it’s off to a very bad start IMHO .

    Sooooooo +10 points for this social media expert right here! ME ME ! haha ….

    I’m sort bias also in the fact I’ve been exploited by internet company’s in the past- ConsumerTrack is spamming craigslist with job postings as we speak- I interviewed with them along with half the city ( 10 other people in a room!together ) they asked each of us to tell us what they would do for SEO to a problem they had and e-mail it to them and let us go on our merry way….. CAN YOU SAY EXPLOITATION! I e-mailed them and told them if I ever see them post on CL again I’m flagging and reporting them to the BBB ! they cont. to this day ….

    So obviously, I’ve been there and done that so got a little irk’d by reading this ….

    Now, in order to keep myself in the running toward’s Mr. Murphy fabulous and glorious position! and wouldn’t be awesome to TWEET ALL DAY FOR 65,000 smackers! wow wow wow …..

    BUT let’s get realistic NOBODY worth that much to tweet even Mr. Palmer haha … so it comes down to the old metrics.

    I’ve only heard of the site catalyst/omniture today – someone recruiter on the phone mentioned it and I was like huh . So good to know there are metrics on social media because far as I know there are really no good metrics for this. Except maybe to set goals i.e conversions for a campaign to achieve. The only thing going on right now is Ford has a community manager who listen’s and engages his or her following on twitter …with the hope to keep retention with the by product being new customer’s!

    did I get any of this , right Mr. Murphy?

    I’m not going to get into bashing , I think social media has it’s place and both of you are correct in your thinking!

    Great conversation and great blog!

    Somebody Haha …

    • This dialog could be case study. Both Murphy and Palmer make good points re social marketing, a new and disruptive phenomenon that challenges perceptions of right and wrong. Kudos.

      The request for candidates’ ‘proof of ability’ by Vidle would certainly eliminate all but the true social networkers, whose friends lists likely run in the thousands (compared to my own humble, double-digits).

      On the other hand, if Vidle profits from a task given its candidates, Vidle then owes the candidates compensation. Appropriating value from one person is cause for a lawsuit; appropriating from many people is a class action lawsuit.

      We all need to be careful that our perception of right and wrong coincides with the law, or at least does not violate the law. I am not a lawyer, but I would love to hear Vidle’s argument that it did not profit from using its candidates’ work to boost its own status in the social networking market.

      On the other hand, we need to push the envelope. I would want to work for a company that needs me rather than the company that hires me to fill a seat.
      So why shouldn’t I show off my skills?

      Vidle wants someone who can hustle a hundred registrations overnight and keep a steady flow going. If they get someone who can hustle a thousand names and keep it going, they’ll pay him or her any price they want.

      Employers can’t handle the “many-to-one” resume process, especially with today’s online applications coming in by hundreds every day. But they can look at the results of a competition.

      If the results of a competition for work are kept private and secure – and not used for profit – it could be a whole new medium for job seekers! Get on it, guys: compete for work dot com.

  7. A hoi hoi Kevin,

    Sad and desperate? Really? I have been competing in the Vidli job search, and I have to say I have never once in my 25 years been called sad and desperate- however, relentless and passionate are in the top five.
    I digress …

    I see where you are coming from in thinking, who the hell are these people? They bust onto the scene as a start up, luring the promise of employment to a bunch of helpless saps willing to bite. I get it, I can see where you are coming from. However, your jaded mentality only proves you really don’t know much about social media.

    Social media was built on the premise of the more you give, the more you get. I have been competing in this competition not out of desperation (because business is hardly suffering in new media) but because this is my passion. I don’t even need to compete with other people to prove my worth, I know my market price.

    I see both sides, but as someone who is in the middle – what I’ll walk away from with this competition is hopefully a job, but if not I can say with the UTMOST amount of sincerity that I have had such a blast competing. Met some very cool web 2.0 artists, and loved every minute of the #Vidli crew.

    For someone with such a skewed perspective, are you sure you’re in the right field Kevin?

    Just sayin …

    #NerdsUnite – where you will find more Vidli love =)

    • In your case it might be young and naive but I don’t want to make this personal with you. Check out the IDC, read up about labor distribution within social media… You know get an academic base to your knowledge beyond whatever marketing book or blog you read this week.

      I’m glad that you freely used your time up even though business has been booming for you to participate in a competition that you may or may not win. I hope the 5,10,25 hours you invested serves your other clients and interests well. I’m passionate about social media but I also am passionate about people leveraging it in a fair way not in a exploitative way.

      Also you aren’t someone in the middle you are applying for the job and openly pimping them, I think you are the one that has a very skewed perspective. You have something to lose or gain in this debate, I don’t have anything invested at all. I am not jaded and I don’t have a skewed perspective… I have an academic background in studying labor dynamics and online media along with over five years experience consulting in social media. I am just calling it like I see it.

  8. I’m disappointed in the tone of both Mr. Palmer and Mr. Murphy. The back and forth sounds like a case of playground “I GOT YOU LAST!”

    This is the first and last time I will visit this blog AND vidli. Nice job turning off your potential clients.

  9. You you should change the webpage subject title Vidli exploits social media job seekers | Social Media Answers to more catching for your webpage you write. I loved the blog post even sononetheless.

  10. What do you think Hackfests are? Outright exploitation to get Other People’s Projects and Companies built!!! But yeah, spec work is for suckers.

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