Wil Wheaton recently tweeted something interesting (Yes, I am reading tweets now. Sue me.). He sent along a message that social media consultants are a waste of money and passed along this article as proof. I actually do know someone who works for a PR company that does this, teaching companies how to use different types of social media to promote their businesses. I think that she actually works in graphic design, but her employer has a full-time Twitter guy just to send out tweets.
Is that a great idea? On one hand, there is a lot to be said for social media and its role in marketing. It's become a very, very effective tool to use if it's done correctly. But, do businesses really need a social media consultant to help them to do it? No offense to the lovely young lady I know who works for the aforedescribed company, but I don't think it's necessary.
Social media is something that is pretty simple to pick up. Chances are, most of the people who work for a given company are probably using Facebook, Twitter or both to communicate with friends and relatives or just to communicate with the world at large. Those employees can probably be used to send out the occasional message to promote their business, particularly since it will take no extra training or expense for them to do so and they already have a vested interest in promoting the company they work for.
And, if you read the article that acting ensign Wil Wheaton posted, the use of social media for marketing purposes is usually pretty transparent. Social media messages aren't articles. The messages are more personal and are used to connect rather than simply to broadcast. As the co-founder of Reddit stated in the article, a genuine message is a lot more likely to connect with an audience than one that is is directed by a guru.