Lately we’re seeing an upsurge in the amount of social media consultants and service providers. You’ve probably run into a few of them online…heck, you may have evenbumped into one while waiting in line at Starbuck’s. They love working remotely,and we all know that the demands of being a social media doyenne can result in serious a caffeine deficiency (a concept I can certainly identify with).Recently I’ve even come across a few social media certification programs offeringto make you a social media expert in fairly short order. Just who is doing the certifying, you ask? That answer varies a bit; but, bear in mind that there is noformal body that can stand in front of you and anoint you a social media Jedi (although that would be awfully cool if they could. Put me down for a pink lightsaber, please).Social media is still evolving, and there are quite a few skeptics out there. Many corporations remain dubious of the benefits of social media, despite a wealthof examples that prove its relevance. Legitimate service providers, in additionto providing social media consulting services to their clients, also face an increasingly uphill battle when they find themselves lumped in with wand-waving social media sorcerers.When Seth Godin famously proclaimed, “everyone’s an expert,” somehow I don’t think thatwas what he had in mind.There are many wonderful, qualified service providers out there, and they are worth every penny that they are charging. So the question remains, how do you separate the genuine article from the so-called?Unfortunately, by the time you’ve realized what you thought was a Gucci® handbag isreally one that reads “Cucci,” that smooth-talking salesman has already packed up his kiosk and moved on.Spotting the FakesJust this week I was speaking with a new client that has been ruthlessly pillaged by various and sundry marketing folks. Truly, it isn’t his fault. To those who are not all that familiar with social media, being able to spot the posers can beas difficult as spotting a quality knockoff handbag. It may look the same — but looks can be deceiving. And, unfortunately, by the time you’ve realized what you thought was a Gucci® handbag is really one that reads “Cucci,” that smooth-talking salesman has already packed up his kiosk and moved on.To review, a snazzy title does not an expert make.Beware the CarpetbaggersAfter the Civil War, Northerners that came to the South were often referred to as carpetbaggers. Some came to do good, but most of them came to take advantage of the post-war aftermath. They came up with crooked and questionable ways to profit and place themselves in positions of power. Social media carpetbaggers preyon unsuspecting folks who are looking for help in boosting their social media profile. Instead of helping them, these hucksters toss around a few industry buzzwords, promise the moon, take the check and run.A real social media powerhouse will be able to cite specific results they’ve achieved for clients, as well as how they measure said results. Demand more than sparkling vocabulary. Ask for details — plans, metrics and references.Is it Social Media Sizzle or Steak?America’s most infamous salesman, Elmer Wheeler often spoke of “selling the sizzle,not the steak.” Selling the sizzle is great advice — so long as there is an actual steak to be served after the sale.