|Disclaimer: It was a challenge to write this without insulting anyone personally but I did my best which included going out of my way not to mention names. Mentioning Shel Israel though could not be avoided (as you'll see below).
In regards to that I can only say that I've never met him in person nor have I ever employed him as a consultant. I can only judge him by what I've seen publicly. He could very well be completely competent in real life and I absolutely wouldn't know.
Part of the problem with the blogosphere, or at least my place in the blogoshpere, is that the response isn't exactly evenly spread. Most posts won't get a response from other bloggers and then suddenly there are 30 people responding to one specific post and you can't keep up with it all. That said, I do try to read anyone who responds to a post I make and in doing that I found this post from Bill at The Measurement Standard...
I'm amazed at how many people love Loren Feldman's sock puppet satires of social media guy Shel Israel. And I notice a number of people respond very favorably to Drama 2.0's criticism of Shel and Jeremiah Owyang and Kami Huyse's rollercoaster research.
Is it just me, or is there some kind of backlash against social media? If the sock puppets are just satire, as Tom'sTechBlog claims, why is the satire so well received? Are people responding to the over-hyped world of 2.0 by being just a little too hard on some of its promulgators? --Bill Paarlberg
First let me say that I don't think there's a backlash against Social Media. The backlash here, it seems to me, is against bad consultants.
You see, there are two kinds of consultants.
The "Type 1" consultants are the good guys. They have backgrounds in a serious discipline like statistics or anthropology and they painstakingly go over tons of data so they know what they're talking about. Those guys are worth paying because they can tell you not just how to use technology but how to get the desired result.
"Type 2" are the guys who act like knowing what technology is and using it yourself makes you qualified to consult on it. These are the modern day con men whose success is related almost entirely to their charm. They buddy up to companies that are completely clueless and convince those companies to pay money to be taught how to use technology. An education that most Jr. High students could probably provide.
The difference between these two types is simple.
The Type 1's will be able to give you solid estimates as to what using technology will accomplish while the Type 2's will simply tell say you need to use it. So while Type 2's say things like "use Twitter because its the way of the future" I've actually met Type 1 consultants that could tell how much your sales would go up if you put a pretty girl in your commercial as opposed to a good looking guy.
The difference is all in being able to forecast some kind of result.
The Backlash is against the Type 2 Consultants
If you read the post entitled "Drama 2.0's criticism of Shel and Jeremiah Owyang", alluded to above, you'll see one basic sentiment repeated over and over which is "This guy doesn't know any more than I do"
THAT is what people are annoyed with and THAT is what people are lashing out at. Consultants who don't seem to know anything more than your average Internet user but who go around calling themselves "Social Media Experts". That is also why Loren Feldman strikes such a chord with his Shel-Puppet. Because the Shel-Puppet embodies what almost everyone is already thinking.
I wouldn't call myself an expert in Social Media, I don't think most other people would either. But on a basic level I think we know what Social Media is well enough to discredit would be experts.
The Truth about Social Media is that its about People not Technology
Social Media is essentially "marketing + feedback" which means being able to convince people of something and then interact with those people. In order to do that you need to be an expert at dealing with people which is where Shel Israel went wrong.
In regards to the whole Israel/Feldman incident try taking it off the Internet for a second. Say you are at a party with Shel Israel and Loren Feldman. Feldman makes fun of Israel and, rather than laughing it off, Israel storms out of the room and then tells everyone the next day that he's going to sue Feldman for mocking him.
At that point, even those who agree with him are going to think he's an idiot. Not knowing that shows some extremely poor people skills on his part and that's why there is a backlash against Mr. Israel. He discredited himself and by doing so made himself the poster child for bad consulting.
Which is sort of the point. If Mr. Israel was actually an expert in Social Media then a backlash against him would equate to a backlash against Social Media. But he's not which means the backlash is only against him and against the type of consultant he's perceived to be.
Social Media, at least for the moment, remains in the clear.