How to evaluate expert advice

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I’ve grown professionally through expert advice. No doubt. I’ve learned from what others have done, and sometimes expert advice is not just a transfer of knowledge but also inspirational.

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But there’s a fine line between helpful expert advice and stuff that isn’t as easy as it sounds, and some strategies are outdated.

“You have to give people enough information and not just hype,” said marketing expert Tai Goodwin on “The Business Storytelling Show.” 

Take the example of social media strategy

Whenever people share expert advice on no longer doable strategies, we can’t learn this tactic because it no longer works.  That can be a frustrating experience.

This hit me when I listened to a great speaker about how they used a social media network to drive growth. But since they’ve done that, a lot has changed with that network. So literally, it’s not repeatable. Not even by them.

Why do you think so many sites make a living telling you the latest social media (and even digital marketing) updates? Because stuff changes. All the time. They never really run out of content.

This is especially a problem some conferences cause:

  • They ask for proposals months in advance. (A lot can happen)
  • They ask for “actionable steps.”

The actionable steps thing. I get it. We want to do it, but how can that be locked down months in advance if stuff changes? And seriously, you expect people to become experts after listening to a 30-minute talk?

What worked yesterday may no longer work today, but something else does. So we need to figure out what that new thing is and do it NOW!

And sometimes networks just shut down. Imagine if somebody was planning a talk about the now-defunct Vine or Blab. Who knows what will happen with other networks months in advance? Not me, and I work on this kind of thing daily.

When expert advice works well

Expert advice works well when it’s a thought partnership relationship. When the expert gives us a higher-level way of thinking about the issue or a very specific tip that can be implemented and tried now.

Some higher-level tips might include:

  • How to use live video. Even if networks change, live video will stay one way or another.
  • What are the best ways to answer our customer questions?
  • How to stay abreast of the currently best distribution strategies.

Of course, it can be difficult to figure out who is worth listening to and who isn’t. Tai said the people that say things like 25 leads in 25 minutes might have a good tagline, but how is that even possible – if it is?

Some of these hyped-up pieces of expert advice might even make it harder for the rest of us that work in the day-to-day of content strategy. Now, executives expect unrealistic results because they heard them somewhere.

Be criticial

So when we look at expert advice, consider:

  • Is this true?
  • How did they show that it’s true?
  • When was it done?
  • Is it still possible today?
  • Are they in a similar industry as you?

In other words, weigh the information without necessarily dismissing it. Don’t just say, “oh, but we are so different. That will never work.” But do consider some of these questions as you weigh the value of expert advice.

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