[quote]What troubles me so much about these supposed thought leaders clogging the social media superhighway - many of them I believe, are charlatans.[/quote] By Peter Prodromou By now we're all familiar with the super users in social media. Our colleagues and friends with zillions of followers and the capacity to tweet and post content prolifically throughout the day.  They are the bulwark of the distributed network - the high volume (notice I said volume, not influence) users with distribution networks that, if tapped correctly, can be leveraged to drive a [caption id="attachment_2256" align="alignright" width="150"]Peter Prodromou Peter Prodromou[/caption] message - whether corporate, political or personal - far and wide. While we have all matured in our consideration of social, recognizing that it must be leveraged strategically for results, there is still a fascination with accessing these super users. In reality, while many talk about having a more mature attitude and sophistication, use of social media hasn't really advanced significantly in the past few years.  The so-called super users represent, in many ways, what has the potential to undermine the true power of social.  Read their tweets and posts and much of it is either redistributing pieces of content they could easily have sent to a personalized email list, or posting personal opinions that nobody cares about. It's a well-known statistic that since the launch of Facebook, diagnoses of narcissistic personality disorder have risen by double digit percentages.  What did we really expect to happen after the launch of a global brag sheet/billboard? I'm a huge user of LinkedIn. I'm there multiple times daily looking at news, checking to see who has been viewing my profile and reaching out to prospective clients.  I post on Twitter regularly, and I make sure I provide value so the information I'm sharing would be interesting to me if I were a follower.  I maintain a strong presence in the blogosphere and publish thought leadership content every chance I get. I'm one of the people who comprise the six percent - yeah, you read it right, six percent - of the online retail market. Moreover, I counsel my clients, whether corporate or political, to leverage the full power of social to create communities, networks and the ability to activate people around products and issues.  In sum, I'm not only a believer, but an accomplished user. And that's what troubles me so much about these supposed thought leaders clogging the social media superhighway - many of them I believe, are charlatans.  They espouse the power of a medium they don't fully understand and mistake knowledge of products and network names as valuable counsel.  They substitute chatter for results.  They claim that social could take customers all the way down the sales funnel to the buy when, in fact, it has been consistently illustrated that social merely builds awareness and consideration (albeit more credible consideration in some cases), just like every other aspect of marketing. Am I writing an attack piece on social?  Not on your life.  I'm writing the first in many salvos aimed at taking social back from those who have misrepresented it, so serious players can work to more fully exploit the power of the medium.  I know it is a powerful medium that drives action and results.  I know in its most powerful incarnation it is part of a fully integrated, strategic approach to marketing with REAL measurement metrics attached.  And I want it back, so serious players can leverage it for what it was meant to be. Peter Prodromou is president of Racepoint Global. Photo credit: Mark Smiciklas