Social Media ‘Gurus’ – The Puffin Poo Won’t Go Away – Updated 13/10/2010 16:53


Update – 13/10/2010 21:20 Nigel Botterill, the owner of MYSMB has kindly entered the debate, read his response and join the debate here

Back in July I blogged about my disdain for so called social media  ‘gurus’. It caused quite a stir and spread rapidly across the social web. People agreed with me whilst others doubted that there were actually people out there masquerading as social media experts (there are!). It is a subject that I think about a lot and also one that continues to really really rile me. I thought that the bullshit may start to dwindle as the general understanding and adoption of social media increases. It has not. Here we go again…

The following things do not make you an expert, consultant or indeed a ‘guru’

  • Tweeting 300 times a day, mainly about your feelings and your sandwich choice (that’s a tweet every 1.6 minutes in a working day of 8 hours)
  • Attending as many social media and tech events or meet-ups as physically possible (these can be beneficial, but don’t think just being there is enough)
  • Having a blog that does very little other that regurgitate the content from the leading blogs but in your own words
  • Having a high klout score or basing your knowledge on your  twitter follower numbers
  • Owning ‘Social Media for Dummies’

What have you actually done Mr Consultant?

I don’t understand how people can put themselves out there as consultants without having a track record of either working in social media or actually having any clients, both in the past and presently. There are a massive amount of blogs and websites owned by so called consultants or experts that are strangely lacking evidence of any actual social media strategy work being carried out for anyone other than the work they do themselves to drive people to their site in an attempt to hoodwink some poor bugger in to paying them an inflated fee for their ‘knowledge and guidance’. I can pretty much guarantee that said knowledge and guidance is about as in-depth and useful as a sandwich related tweet. To me, you quite simply cannot truly offer worthwhile social media services unless you have been at the coal face, creating strategies, implementing, managing, measuring and reporting. Anyone can talk a good game after reading the latest post from Mashable, but having the nouse to actually deliver is a whole different ball game.

That leads me nicely on to this complete aberration…




A Complete Joke - (click image to expand)


The above is a service that trains stay at home Mum types to be ‘social media managers’. Basically, the poor people who fall for it, pay £497 to receive a number of modules that claim to ‘train you to be a social media manager, a role that could earn you thousands of pounds a month’. Oh dear lord. So these people complete a set of modules (I would imagine that all of the included info is readily available online and for free) and all of a sudden they are super freakin awesome experts. Bollocks. But the madness does not stop there, what MYSMB then do is approach businesses to offer them the services of these new ‘social media managers’.  So the local Purple Widget company pays what I would imagine to be a high fee to MYSMB who then get Mrs Smith to tweet on their behalf, in between Jeremy Kyle and changing nappies. No no no!!! Jesus wept.  Do you think that these businesses are told the true nature of the people that will be acting as their social media ‘manager’? Doubtful.

MYSMB is run by a man who calls himself  a ‘serial entrepreneur’ (is that a business murderer?)  and a quick Google search on his name returns  a number of frankly awful sites on which he sells his various pyramid scheme type offerings. Other results include a number of articles that alert us to the fact that many of them are scams. This cannot offer any real value to the businesses that use it, having somebody that is so far removed from your brand acting as your social voice is just plain wrong. This ‘serial entrepreneur’  is the only person who is truly gaining anything from it and that is just pure hard cash. As for the people who become the ‘managers’ well I can’t really fault them as such, after-all they are merely trying to make some money. I just hope the businesses that use the service and then have to deal with the inevitable fall-out can’t beat a path to their door.

As a passionate digital marketer this type of nonsense really makes my blood boil and to me will only serve to potentially damage the image of the many hard working, genuinely clued up social media people and agencies out there.

Stop the bullshit people, get out there and bust a gut until you have earned the right to be classed as an expert. Do some actual social media work then maybe you can call yourself a ‘social media consultant’. Just don’t do it the other way round.

Update 13/10/2010 – Nigel Morgan has echoed my sentiments and delved a little deeper in to the way MYSMB works in his blog post here

Update – 13/10/2010 16:53 – One of the MYSMB ‘social media managers’ has responded to this and a number of other negative blog posts, read it here


Cut It!

Cut It! (image cred


And if you meet a ‘guru’, give them a Chinese burn from me.


About Mike McGrail

Mike McGrail is the owner of The Social Penguin Blog. He is the MD of Velocity Digital. He likes scotch and leather-bound books. Follow Mike's ramblings on Twitter. He also resides on Google Plus here.

  • Steven Hope

    Well said Mike, not too harsh at all. MySMB pissed me off so I can only imagine how it made you feel. Developing industries have always been vulnerable to abuse by cowboys, and it really is the industry that suffers as it’s held back from progressing at a really critical point in it’s history. How to solve it? – Persistent client training I think and eventually the problems will be ironed out. Keep up the good fight!

    • Mike McGrail

      Thanks for the comment Steven. Totally agree that training is key to ensuring things like MYSMB do not have the negative effects that I almost dread. Luckily I think there are enough people out there talking sense.

  • Angela Higgins

    It amazes me that a company would actually fall for this kind of ‘scam’ though. Do they?… really?
    It would be like a girl (who may be a little past her best) giving a dodgy ‘model agent’ they’ve met in a town centre over £500 for a portfolio without ever having been near a camera! Dumb.

    • Mike McGrail

      Hi Angela, unfortunately I think some companies will fall for it due to a- they are feared of the Soc med world and this may seem like an easy option and b – it may actually seem like good value to them.

  • Andrew Burnett

    The raft of Johnny come latelies and charlatans in social media is something that has concerned me for a couple of years now, though the more prominent the industry becomes the more are crawling out of the compost.

    The great Mike Coulter once said to me:

    Clients deserve the agencies they hire”

    It initially did little to allay my concerns, but it is actually very true. Essentially it is a process of due diligence and I’d advise anyone, on either side of the client / consultant equation to make these enquiries. After all it is your reputation that is on the line.

    • Mike McGrail

      Hi Andrew, thanks for reading and your comment. Totally agree, anybody looking for an agency of any type should take the time to do a number of checks, have face to face meetings and use their network to gather opinion before agreeing any work.

  • Jennifer Jones

    My only problem with this post is the attack on stay at home mums. “Parent” is probably a better choice of words so not to lose credibility in your argument.

    • Mike McGrail

      Hello Jennifer,

      Thanks for reading. I take your point, can I say that ‘stay at home Mums’ was not used in any negative way and apologies if it came across that way. In the post I do not attack the people that may actually pay the money to become one of these ‘managers’ - “As for the people who become the ‘managers’ well I can’t really fault them as such, after-all they are merely trying to make some money” and I would actually tip my hat to them for taking what could be seen as initiative (even if the service they will become a part of is a joke). If we are being PC then yes I should have used ‘parent’ so as not to exclude ‘stay at home Dads’ and again if my use of words displayed any sexist connotations, I apologise.


  • Iain Brown

    Where is Esther Rantzen when you need her, too many charlatans these days, the internet makes it too easy to have low cost schemes such as these.

    Go on gumtree sometime and look at the job ads, which are I’m sure for schemes very similar to this and prey on the lower qualified, lower income members of society.

    This is no different, and people like the guy behind this, should be exposed. By the way his ‘story’ doesn’t make sense. He is a snake oil salesman plain and simple. Is social media the new snake oil?

    • Mike McGrail

      Hi Iain,

      Thanks for reading.

      There are many similar schemes in place which really does not help things at all. In terms of snake oil, well that is a term we are hearing more and more alongside social media. I guess all industries have them. How do we combat it?

  • Kelly Forbes

    Thank goodness for Dave and Mike being on the side of justice!

    Companies like MYSMB really worry me, not from the perspective of getting a poor service but from the potential for exploitation. With the recession, so many people being laid off and a lack of jobs; people looking for employment become desperate and will often turn to places like this in the hope of getting work at the end.

    These shysters take advantage of people who really can’t afford to be utterly shafted, in both cash and self esteem, and I’m glad someone is at least drawing attention to it.

    • Mike McGrail

      Thanks Kelly! We all need to make a hell of a lot of noise in the hope that services such as MYSMB fool as few people as possible. Not easy but we have to try.

  • Matt Owen

    Hi Mike – really good post.

    Thanks very much for pointing out MYSMB here. Many companies do leap into social without really taking time to understand the medium, and it’s here that apointing a respected agency to help with strategy becomes really valuable. Strategic goals need to be set and businesses need to consider what they want to accomplish from a social media presence and what return they expect, then decide on appropriate metrics to accomplish this.

    Social media should be based on long-term engagement with the customer, rather than simply shouting about your product or service.

    I do worry that businesses like MYSMB take advantage of companies who feel that social media is simply a broadcast channel that can be fully automated -If you are in a long term relationship with a company then this works well, but I do see examples of businesses that simply want a social media guru/ninja/maven to rid in, set up services and then disappear, or those who’ve had vague promises made by dodgy dealers and have no real idea what their Twitter stream is doing or saying.

    And of course-it’s important to point out the charlatans and snake-oilers when they appear, so good work again!

    If you’re interested, I’m currently working on some posts that detail what social media professionals should be doing day-to-day, which hopefully will allow businesses to see through the smoke and find a cost-effective manager or agency and carry out successful campaigns :

    Many thanks,


    • Mike McGrail

      Hi Matt,

      Thanks very much for commenting.

      Great to see we are on the same page, MYSMB and other nonsense ‘services’ have the potential to be very harmful for the people that can offer truly authentic social media services, the digital marketing industry in general and of course the businesses that use the service. How do we combat their ilk? Well making as much noise as possible about them can only help!



  • katieandersonblogs

    Completely. Totally. Agreed.

    I have heard so many stories of businesses (and charities!) being ripped off by so-called social media gurus. Amounts of money that would make you cringe are being handed over in good faith – often to do something as simple as to create a Facebook fan page!

    Besides anything else ‘businesses’ like MYSMB are giving those of us who are running genuine social media businesses a bad name. I only hope that those who are looking for assistance with social media are able to look past the MYSMB social media ‘gurus’ and find an authentic social media consultant instead.

    I’ll cross my fingers.

    • Mike McGrail

      I really hope so too! People like you have genuine and intelligent services to offer and things like MySMB quite rightly make blood boil!

  • Pete Gronland

    I could not agree more with this post but would say that the entire online industry is awash with so many so called experts/gurus etc, that lack any real kind of substance.

    However, this shameless self promotion seems to work for most….so who are the real fools? They’re not behaving this way for no reason, it pays off.

    Great post cheers

    • Mike McGrail

      Hi Pete,

      Thanks for reading. Totally agree that online is full of them, I just feel that social media based examples are very prominent at this time. If people are paying these ‘gurus’ without doing the background checks etc then they are crazy, however that still doesn’t make it right.



  • Nigel Botterill

    Hi Mike

    Thought I’d drop you a note, as you’ve been good enough to mention me in your post, although I’ve had more favourable write-ups!

    Please humour me while I defend myself a little, nobody likes to be torn apart by someone they’ve never met…

    I am a UK business owner, based in Solihull. I own 6 different successful businesses, the biggest of which is ‘thebestof’ – which is a marketing franchise that has been going for over 5 years.

    My business, N5, doesn’t sell snake oil. We sell franchises, business opportunities, marketing expertise, and also high-level coaching and mentoring programmes for other business owners.

    The business is a multi-million pound operation. I employ around 30 staff, have over 300 franchisees and work with over 1000 business owners.

    N5 is a completely legitimate, well-respected, award-winning business. Among our various awards in recent years was a 3rd place listing in The Sunday Times/Microsoft ‘Tech Track 100′. I can assure you that those guys did a more comprehensive job than the “quick Google search” that you’ve done while researching this post!

    With regard to our newest business – My Social Media Business – we simply spotted an opportunity in the market and created a product to fill it. I can understand why some people (especially existing social media consultants watching a couple of hundred new businesses enter the market) might be a little up tight about it, but you don’t need me to tell you that social media is a big and growing industry with room for many. I suspect that existing social media managers that have got good relationships with their clients, track-records of success and thriving businesses, couldn’t give two hoots about these new entrants, because they’re confident of their own value.

    The only people who are going to be worried about this new influx are second-rate so-called ‘experts’, who’ve got a few hundred twitter followers and think that’s enough to launch a new business selling their services to unsuspecting customers. It isn’t.

    The training that’s provided as part of the MySMB package is very thorough. I researched, wrote and recorded it myself. I guarantee you won’t find a better training package available. Of course, most of the included info IS probably available online and for free – if you can afford to spend days hunting it down and knowing which sources you can trust. Exactly the same can be said about almost everything though, the web is a big place.

    The bottom line here is that My Social Media Business is not, as you kindly put it, ‘a complete joke’. It is a good opportunity for many people to learn how to use social media, and how to create a business using that knowledge. What they do with the information is up to them, this isn’t a franchise, but the opportunity is there.

    To finish off here. I’d just like to point out that I know my way around social media myself. In fact, so far this year I’ve generated over £70,000 of business directly from social media. I still wouldn’t class myself as one of those ‘experts’, but I’m well enough qualified to stand behind this new business, and hand-on-heart, say that it will deliver everything it sets out to.

    If you’d like to discuss this further Mike, please give me a call, I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding a number for me.

    All the best


    • Mike McGrail

      Hi Nigel,

      Thanks very much for your response, after-all, social media has a strong rooting in conversation and I am glad this has now become a dialogue. You are clearly a successful business person, whether I agree with your methods is perhaps by the by.

      The fact is that I fundamentally disagree with the MYSMB model and the messages it sends out regarding the field of social media marketing. The debate rages whether an outside party can truly create an engaging and successful SM strategy for a brand, I for one believe it is possible with the right people with the right skills and experience working very very closely with the brand. I can’t help but feel that your service is just a cash suck that offers the businesses that use it little other than a very basic profile set up and content deployment service. The reason for this thinking is that your sales videos for MYSMB state that ‘social media is easy’ and can be learned in a matter of weeks. Anybody can chuck an image on a twitter profile, send a few tweets and add sone followers, that is easy, the strategy, goal setting, creativity, writing, integration, measurement, reporting, assessment, tactics and delivery are not and unless your course is the absolute muts nuts, then I doubt people that use your training with no prior experience are capable of delivering truly valuable social media services. Why anybody who actually has any real experience would use your scheme is beyond me. Your claim that your course is the best around is also a little rich for me.

      I would like to clarify that I am not attacking the people that have paid for your training, I can understand why they may have seen it is a great way to earn some cash and I’m sure your training makes them believe they are all of a sudden capable of delivering truly beneficial social media services to businesses. While I do not hold any bad thoughts towards them, I do feel bad for the businesses that may pay for the services and believe they are receiving the guidance of truly experienced social media practitioners.

      I have been talking to one of your trainees today and they do seem to understand my and many others concerns. He seems to be be fairly knowledgable about the field. He does have past experience and I can’t help but think that this is where the grasp has come from. Putting his name to MYSMB instead of branching out under his own steam may even be his only mistake.

      Once again thanks for taking the time to respond.

      Kind regards,

      Mike McGrail

    • Katie Anderson

      Nigel, you say – “The only people who are going to be worried about this new influx are second-rate so-called ‘experts’, who’ve got a few hundred twitter followers and think that’s enough to launch a new business selling their services to unsuspecting customers. It isn’t.”

      And yet, the tagline of MYSMB is “so easy a 12 year old can do it.”

      Do you not see the discrepancy between these two comments?!

    • Clumsie560

      Nigel you are a conman, what about the quickie franchisees you took over a million care to comment on this in public, think not as you never do.

      • Mike McGrail

        I find it interesting that every day we can over 10 searches landing on our blog from the keywords ‘Nigel Botterill scam’.

    • conmanchaser

      what about the quickie franchise or my little wrapper. Innocent people lost thousands because of Nigel;

    • Richie

      Dear Nigel, you sold me a bestof franchise after receiving a letter from the local council telling you they and the businesses in there area would not deal with thebestof due to previous franchisee, you also told me the area was 120,000 and after I had signed it went down to 60 because you had drawn imaginary lines to try and sell it to someone else.

      I met all the criteria for your so called 3K guarantee, yet when I met up with your rottweiler Michelle, she just said no, because it is not a legitimate offer. The training was piss poor at best with no detail just wishy washy BS.

      It is now my firm belief you are the snake oil sales man who has no real interest in making the businesses successful, but to simply collect franchise fees. You also took on a franchisee with 4 convictions for obtaining money by deception John Prendergast. thebestof model is old antiquated and not competitive.

      There are lots of back handers and dodgy deals going on to con people looking for a genuine opportunity into parting with there hard earned cash like paying franchises to come talk to potential new franchisees – This seems highly immoral. All of the social media advice is quite frankly hippocritcal when thebestofs own FB page is about as popular as Ebola.

      I will be writing to you along with a letter before action to retrieve the moneys owed to me alongside a caviat with pressing charge for obtaining money by deception due to the lies I can prove and the guarantees terms and conditions being met yet not being honored.

  • Morgan

    What an insecure lot you people are! How did you learn your expert social media skills? Years of trial and error? Lots of mistakes on the way?
    Does putting in the time making these slow mistakes give you the social media character to sneer at these upstarts who dare to bypass your path by getting a bespoke training package?
    So if they study hard and learn only the correct way of doing things, how long does it take to become an expert? Is really THAT complicated?
    Are stay-at-home mums lacking the fine skills in communication and engagement required to socialise online? (like the guests on Jeremy Kyle..)

    Don’t be scared of franchises. There are only 200 sold on this island of 60+ million people and not even all of them will actually start businesses instead just buying them for the training value. (As time is a more valuable commodity then money, it’s possible a better option than using the free info that’s on the net).

    The whole idea of a franchise was slated when it was first invented and got the name calling of being a con, a rip off, unethical etc. Guess that times change but people don’t.

    MySMB seems to be aimed at people helping local business owners utilise social media to market their business. If you run a business, then learning how to best use social media takes time that you havn’t got, as does keeping it updated. Are there enough vastly experienced social media gurus out there to help them all? No? Then what do they do?

    A MySMB manager will have the training to make a big difference to these people and as it’s a from a proven social marketing and franchiser expert, it’s got a certain pedigree.
    If you want a pizza from pizza hut, do you demand to see the resume of the chef and want to know how long the branch has been trading etc? Or would a person know that a good system works if delivered by people following the system they’ve been trained in?

    I for one have more faith in Nigel Botterill due to his easily researchable track record then I have in a load of whiny ‘experts’ who have not even given these upstarts a chance before slagging them off. Are you that desperate to see people fail and say ‘told you so!’?

    Oh no. I’ve been dragged into the realm of the keyboard warrior!! AHH!!
    Shame on me.

    • Mike McGrail

      Hello Morgan,

      Thanks for reading the blog and thanks for your comment.

      You ask how I gained my skills in social media? Pretty much through hard work, learning and hands on experience. I am a marketeer with varied experience across many channels. Social media is just another channel, however it needs to be deeply understood in order to offer the best outcomes for businesses (of any size). It has to be intertwined with the needs of the business and of course, the overall marketing aims. Can somebody gain the required understanding from a £495 course? I (and many others) have deep doubts about that. These courses are promoted with tag lines such as ‘so easy a 12 year old could do it’. Really? Maybe they could take this course and learn how to use twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other outlets, but are they capable of the strategy, tactics, monitoring and evaluation? All skills that only make up a part of the set required for successful and valuable social media work. Forget 12 year olds, I doubt anyone of any age can truly gain these skills from what amounts to a short correspondence course. Some of the examples of work by those who have taken the course prove that the channels are being used in a very shallow way.

      As I have said previously, there are people that have taken the course and do seem to understand the commitment and skills it takes to work with a business and truly represent their brand, products and services. Some of them have even admitted to thinking they perhaps should have taken a different path in the quest to be a ‘social media expert’ (the whole SM expert argument is one for another day). If the people that are ‘qualified’ via this course are working very closely with the business to ensure that the channel is being used for the right reasons, matching the needs of the business and creating an engaging platform for customers and prospects then power to them and I would wish the best of luck. Are the ‘social media managers’ taking the time to nurture and build relationships? Is relevant and useful content being created? Are the customers actually being served or is it just broadcast, broadcast and more broadcast? Are they even considering that the outlets they have been ‘trained’ to operate may not be suitable for the business? I can imagine a lot of businesses would use this service purely because they feel they have to be present on the key social media channels. Are the course graduates going to give them a reality check and take the time to explore where online that the businesses customer base are already present? Is the ‘manager’ capable of carrying out this research? If they discover that in fact they need to reach out to niche communities and that the big networks are not the best place for the business to be, are they capable of building a strategy that reaches out and creates value for the business, it’s customers and prospects? If they feel they are not, will they admit it like a good consultant would, or would they plow on with the usual suspects and bring in the pennies for themselves regardless?

      In relation to your comment about the pizza chain. Making a fat saturated pepperoni pizza by numbers is easy. There is no set model for social media strategy, of course there are guidelines and models but each case is different, unlike a medium Margerrita. Would you employ a plumber to install a new bathroom, or an electrician to rewire your home, whose only experience came from a £495 course? I doubt it. So why would a business put such an important function in the hands of one of these ‘managers’? Do the businesses know the level of training, knowledge and experience of the person they are about to pay to handle their social media strategy?

      Desperate to see people fail? Not at all. I’m desperate to see businesses achieve true value from their social media strategies and I don’t believe this route can deliver this. I fundamentally disagree with it, and that will not change.



  • Andy

    Talk about running scared Mr McGrail… :-)

    The likes of yourself, Morgan & Hodges should get on with life instead of constantly trying to undermine other people’s endeavours – as Mr Morgan wrote in another (‘I condemn MySMB’) blog post, there is plenty of business to go round – chill out and concentrate on your own business service…

    No matter how much you ‘waffle on’ about the ‘MySMB’ concept, it is here to stay – get over it!


    • Mike McGrail

      Hi Andy,

      That’s a particularly pointless comment, with no real substance or content. In fact it reminds me of the drivel being delivered by the vast majority of MySMB subscribers.

      Thanks for your time though. Nice email address too, a front for spam no doubt.

      All the best,


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  • John

    I’ve just read this by way of research, having received some spam in my mailbox for MYSMB and become curious.

    Firstly I’m interested Mike in the discinction you draw between people you feel are qualified to give advice on Social Media and those who aren’t. In my experience working in advertising, people who have spent years at the coalface are equally if not more able to talk a load of nonsense about the latest buzzwords, especially marketeers, without really understanding them in any depth.

    To say that social media of any kind requires experts to understand how to utilise it seems to me to undermine the whole premise of social media in the first place. The whole point is that social media are not peopled by experts, rather a concentrated group of peers who share their knowledge and experience. If anything traditional marketeers and consultants fear social media rather than embrace it because it puts all your jobs on the line – people don’t need clever marketing to make their purchasing decisions for them any more, because social media is now the means by which individuals to express themselves and share information – any information they need they can get from each other! This has been going on in the IT world, in one form or another, for years now. Any information worth having is in the public domain, peer generated, code thrown open, the market increasingly user led.

    Social media takes that to another level, effectively open source advertising – as powerful as word of mouth but infinitely more prolific and universal. Anybody who can engage with the users of a social media site on their level effectively is able to become a social media guru. It’s all about understanding your audience and how to engage with them on the level of their personal needs, and on the right platform. It’s understanding the distinction between their personal space (eg facebook) and public space (eg any content driven commercial webiste). And I’m sure you’ll take me to task over this, but I actually think MYSMB is right – anyone could do it. 12 year olds do actually do it – in fact 12 year olds probably utilise social media more effectively than any of us. It’s the 12 year olds we need to be learning from!

    Many companies use social media iteslf as their tools for feedback and analysis – what better way to understand what your customers want than to read what they are saying about you? And bringing me to the point, with something like MYSMB, how can any ‘professional’ gain more of an insight into local services and the best way of marketing them to a peer group than a member of that peer group themselves?

    Your post and many of the replies betray an arrogance rather than an understanding – ‘you haven’t been in the business long enough, darlings, you couldn’t possibly understand….’ That marketers don’t really know in all their might how to explit Social Media and by and large have failed to do so indicates precisely the opposite. It’s the democracy, the universal nature of the ability for online media to facilitate peer to peer communications that makes traditional marketing obselete and the traditional methods of quantifying the success of marketing campaigns sound so laughable when used in this context. The tools to monitor social media are all dead simple, and online…. and free!

    Also arrogant is your comment about how anybody who works part time could possibly understand this highest of high concepts. I know mothers/fathers eminently qualified to consult others and run their own business – just because you have children or choose not to work 9-5 (and believe me raising kids requires longer hours than that!) doesn’t remove your higher brain function, doesn’t detract from your ability to think strategically and understand your clients. Getting snobby about a £500 course seems a bit uppity when I doubt you’ve even looked at what it contains and are talking about the simplest of simple concepts in the first place. I’m surprised it costs that much to be honest.

    That is my problem with MYSMB – It’s selling a dream, praying on desperate peoples’ weaknesses and vulnerabilities and greed, and the language it uses seems a bit OTT. I don’t know though. All I know is I wouldn’t give them £500.

    At the same time, however, you’re guilty in your blog of exactly the same thing as they are – using language which elevates social media and understanding of social media to the level of some mysterious new and somehow exclusive club that only the worthy may join. In fact social media has been around for ages, in one form or another, and social media and everything that goes alongside it, including marketing, belongs to all of us.

    • Mike McGrail

      Hi John,

      Thanks for taking the time to read the blog and leave such an in-depth comment. Thought it wise to summarise what I feel are your key points:

      1 – That people who work in a certain field are more than capable of talking crap about it

      Yes of course they are and many are guilty of it. In social media terms that amount of this that goes on is staggering, people forget that SM is purely another channel in digital marketing/communication. However, there is language that people need to use in order to get across their thoughts on the subject, it’s the content they place around those words that counts and to me, many fail to do this in a constructive and useful manner.

      2 – Marketers are scared of social media as it puts their jobs on the line

      Many are and those that fail to embrace it as tool will fall by the wayside. I totally agree that the rapid emergence of social media has given real power to the consumer. Businesses/brands/whatever need to know how to harness this in order to ensure they making best use of this shift. That is what I do as part of my job (note ‘part’). If you read through this blog you will see articles that give advice on the processes, strategies and best practice that need to be considered when looking to use the social media channel, these are things that I believe many don’t understand the importance of.

      3 – Social media is about engaging with people in a way they want

      Absolutely can’t argue with that. MY*** may well be able to teach people how to deliver that in terms of actually on the various channels, but it won’t teach them everything I have alluded to earlier in this response and also throughout The Social Penguin Blog. My thoughts on MY*** are widely covered in this blog so I won’t dwell on it.

      4 – Social media is a great feedback/research/insight tool
      Yes it is and listening has to be a part of any digital strategy that uses social media.

      5 – ‘Arrogance’

      If anything I say comes across as arrogant then I can’t really help that, I use social media as part of digital campaigns for businesses of all shapes and sizes and believe that people need to have real knowledge of the field before any actions are taken. I have real experience of this and perhaps my confidence comes from that. I do not doubt that people who work part time can understand business etc, what I say is that MY*** cannot possibly teach this and that the people that it is aimed at will not be in a position similar to those that live and breath it.

      Social media is not some magic kool-aid, I get that, but it’s not an easy channel to use well. There are many who see it as an exclusive ‘club’, I don’t and I think my blog work shows that.



  • Anonymous

    Having had the misfortune of dealing with one of Mr Botterill’s MySMB ‘trainees’, I have to say I was shocked at the complete lack of both knowledge and experience- and the unsavoury practices that his course seems to encourage. These are people who in many cases had never even used Facebook, Twitter etc. prior to taking the course, who are encouraged to comment on each others hastily set-up blogs and profiles, to give the appearance of a well established online presence. Almost all of their content is stolen (generally without any attribution) from other sources, without even adding an opinion of their own. Its difficult to really be sympathetic to the people taken in by his promises, however this kind of ‘get rick quick’ scheme often seems to attract a certain type of person- and having experienced it first hand it’s easy to see it as basically a tax on idiots.

  • David Smith

    I share a lot of the concerns about MYSMB that have been listed here. Of course there will be people taking the lessons that just need a top-up to their skills in order to make a business, and I can’t say they won’t do a good job as they probably will.

    If you Google Nigel Botterill you’ll find a lot of info about him, mainly written by him. There is a reason for that.

    The turnover of franchisees in his businesses is phenomenal. His main one, thebestof, has been going just over six years, yet nearly every one of the 400 sites has changed hands at least once, some up to four times. The idea is good, but Nigel Bottrill’s methods have impoverished a great many people who believe his. The amounts of money that he claims site owners can earn is ridiculous, as I know only a few have come anywhere close if you extrapolated their very best months across several years. He also seems to have a problem telling the difference between turnover and profit, and costs are very high, contrary to what he claims on his website

    His other business, MyMag, really does target stay-at-home mum’s. It sells post-code areas for creating monthly A5 magazines. The information supplied is very poor quality, and with the amount of actual work required being four or five times what he claims, most give up within a few months. Then he can sell the postcode again.

    Nothing this man says can be taken at face value, absolutely nothing.

    • Mike McGrail

      Hi David,

      Thanks for your comment. No matter what anyone says, Mr B’s methods are far from transparent and he makes wonderfully in-authentic claims at every turn. He responded to this post originally and never came back to my response.

      Everyday searches land on this post from the following keywords – ‘nigel botterill scam’ ‘nigel botterill con’. Speaks volumes really…

      Thanks again David.

  • Dennis Taylor

    You’ve made my day. I thought I was the only one out there who had spotted MYSMB for who they really are. I cannot agree more with this post and I’ll be looking you up on twitter/facebook/linkedin etc as soon as I post this comment.
    NB and his team recently contacted me asking if I would be interested in MYSMB in Rossendale Lancs. I was initially interested, the websites are basic but don’t need to be flashy, then I got thinking, hang-on..this is social media out of a box! So I declined. However, less than a week later, one of NB’s phoned me back asking if I was interested in one of their BESTOF packages, erm… no thanks.
    I then spotted a gentleman who lives less than a mile away from myself who had a MYSMB website. Hmmm, 12 likes on his facebook page (all other MYSMB owners), 112 twitter followers (following 800 himself) and 3 blog posts (last updated nearly 6 months ago). I tried contacting him through facebook, twitter and reply. He has now bought a new franchise (not one of NB’s) selling mod-kit for cars!!!!! Social media experts = my arse.
    To be fair, out of the 100 or so MYSMB people I have found about 3 of them are doing it right. I have purposefully not included links to any individuals in this comment box, but I have tweeted the post and shared on my facebook page and profile in the hope that some of the ‘experts’ see this.
    I’ve recently blocked a few of them following me on my twitter account, I even have screen shots where they have retweeted my comments but cut me out claiming it as their own.
    Rant over, but good to see other people have noted NB and his social media ‘experts’ ;)

    • Mike McGrail

      Here here Ross!

      The coverage of MYSMB has been so negative and quite rightly so. There are a few as you say that are doing it well and have even stated remorse at going down this route. This marketing channel cannot be learned in a crappy course, of that I am sure. It takes knowledge of so many areas in order to be used effectively. A course can give a grounding for sure, but to go and then sell services to businesses based on that it is shocking.

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  • Mike McGrail

    Interesting that every day, this blog post receives over 10 searches with the keywords ‘Nigel Botteril con man’ or ‘Nigel Botteril scam’. Enough said.

  • Damian Corbet

    What can I say – 110% on the ‘Bullshit Detector’!

  • Ricky

    I think it was outstanding Nigel Botterill would take time to refute your allegations. Never bought any of his products myself so can’t comment on if it’s a scam or not. Which really is the core of the issue here.

    You lot seem pious and self righteous even though every comment I’ve seen on here is anecdotal and no-one has any real experience of using the products discussed. Second hand tittle tattle…

    You all need to get back to shouting at the news on the telly and tssk tssking at stories in the Daily Mail…really

    • Mike McGrail

      Thanks for your comment. This is a very old issue, and it would appear at that the product in question is now defunct. Thought that would happen. As for Nigel, the amount of searches that land on this post with his name and ‘conman’ or ‘scam’ alongside it are still at a strong level. Tells a story. I’ve never cast doubt on him, just the product.

  • Mike McGrail

    Thanks for filling us in here! I think our initial worries over this ‘service’ have pretty much come true. I just hope no damage has been done to any businesses out there.