10 tips to determine if a sports social media consultant is a fraud

In the past couple of years, multiple consulting companies have suddenly appeared on the scene to claim they are sports social media experts, gurus, leaders, trainers, etc… These firms are pitching colleges and universities to hire them to monitor their student-athletes’ Tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos, and/or to “educate” student-athletes, coaches, administrators, etc… about social media matters.

To claim one is a sports social media consultant the barrier to entry is very low. From looking at the lack of credentials from most of those selling themselves as social media experts it appears that the only tools needed are: Internet and phone access, and a Slideshare account. With these three things you can create a free or low cost website and/or a free blog, open a free Twitter account, and create social media presentations based upon the work of others. Some of these “self anointed social media experts” may also buy a software package or create an application to track the online activities of student-athletes that may create tremendous legal problems for the schools that utilize these programs.

The Tweets, blog posts, and presentations of these self-called experts may appear to indicate that these consultants are the real McCoy. However, once due diligence is performed on these “social media experts” it becomes evident that almost none of them have any bona fide credentials or knowledge that demonstrates they should be advising NCAA schools, student-athletes, coaches, administrators, etc… on social media and/or any issues pertaining to college athletics.

To ensure that NCAA schools do not fall victim to these self-anointed experts who do not have the best interests of schools, athletic departments, and student-athletes in mind, below is a list of characteristics to help determine if a self described NCAA social media consultant, expert, guru, trainer, leader, etc… is a fraud:

1) The consultant advises schools to buy his social media monitoring software to track and/or archive student-athletes’ password and/or non-password protected online activity.

2) The consultant advises schools to request or require students to register their social media user names and/or passwords with athletic departments and/or third parties.

3) The consultant advises schools to request or require that student-athletes Facebook Friend schools and/or third parties.

4) The consultant has no verifiable professional social media and/or sports experience before starting his sports social media consulting company.
5) The consultant incorrectly predicted how the NCAA’s social media monitoring allegation against the University of North Carolina would be resolved.

6) The consultant follows more people on his professional Twitter account than are following him back.

7) The consultant’s social media credentials appear too good to be true which may indicate social media credential fraud.

8) The consultant claims that schools that utilize his social media monitoring program will not be violating any current/future laws or creating the potential for tremendous legal liability.

9) The consultant has no verifiable professional social media experience prior to 2011.

10) The consultant has public Twitter conversations that may be better suited via direct message and/or another more discreet format.

If a social media consultant approaches an NCAA institution and has more than one of these characteristics it most likely indicates that the consultant is not the expert, leader, guru, etc… that he claims to be but a fraud whose advice may put the safety of a university and/or its students at risk and may create tremendous legal liability for universities, coaches, athletic department administrators, and/or student-athletes.

To learn more about these issues you may contact me at www.shearlaw.com.

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