You Are Not A Social Media Expert

Originally posted 2015-01-19 11:35:07. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

We’ve always said that we’re not “social media experts”.

We’re not.  We try things, we experiment, and we have some moderate amount of success with certain things…but we’re not experts.

And there’s always been something that bothered me about that term – “social media expert” – but I could never really nail down what it was or why it nagged at me so much.

Now I can.

So now I can finally express why we’re not social media experts.

And I can also tell you why you’re not one, either…

what-my-friends-think-I-do-what-i-actually-do-social-media-expert-500x345At every casual networking event that we hold, the following two conversations each take place at least once:

The first:

Me: “What can I help you find?”

Random Recruiter: “I need geeks.”

Me: “Great.  That’s most of this room.  What can I help you find?”

Random Recruiter: “Developers.”

Me: “Great, quite a few of those floating around tonight, but you’re going to need to be more specific.  What kind of developers do you need?  And if you say ‘really good ones’, I will laugh at you.”

Random Recruiter: “Oh…ha ha…okay, I need a solid .Net developer that can write applications…”

Perfect.  Now we’re talking the same language.

The second:

Me: “What do you do?”

Other Person: “I.T. stuff”

Me: “Great.  So does everyone in this room.  What do you do?”

Other Person: “I’m a very experienced developer.”

Me: “Great.  Going to have to be a little bit more specific with this crowd.  What do you do?”

Other Person: “I write custom .Net apps for…”

There we go.  Now we’re on the same page and can get started.

And now I can play traffic cop appropriately, and make a connection between two people that are looking for each other.

Insert “eHarmony/” joke [here].

So you see, walking into a room and announcing that you’re an expert in a field that has become so widespread and generic doesn’t really do anyone much good.  It’s true for “developer” as much as it’s true for “social media” and other realms, too.

My in-laws are convinced I just “build websites”…because that’s all that they really have the capacity to understand.  They don’t “get” the differentiations between server, network and application architecture.  That’s just not in their zone…which is fine.  I don’t understand the intricate workings of my father in law’s 1948 Harley Davidson that has something called a “shovelhead” in it, either…beyond the fact that it sounds like a horse galloping when it’s idling, which is cool.  I helped him figure out the math to extend the front end on another Harley, and even how to mount up a snowmobile engine and transmission into the sucker.  And he did all the work himself – welding, frame bending…hell, he’s got yet another bike that he basically build from scratch.

But if you ask him, he’s not “a motorcycle expert”.  He knows nothing of Hondas, or Buell’s, or any of the other random makes and models out there.

He’s not even “a Harley Davidson expert”…although I would challenge nearly anyone to prove they know more than he does about them.

So then I look at something like social media…and I realize there’s really no difference from “developer” or even “motorcycle guy”.

Social media has become so wide, so vast, so diffuse and spread out to mean so many different things…how can anyone possibly lay claim to being an “expert” at it all?

Great, you built a Facebook fan page that got 8,000 people to like it…but what about your Twitter handle that only has 14 followers and your Youtube videos that have gotten, at most, one view each?

Awesome, you built up a Twitter account that has 40,000 followers…but your Facebook page has 200 “likes”, and nobody can even find you on LinkedIn because you’re not there.

The 40 people you engage with on Path daily think you’re the greatest thing going…but those are also only the same 40 people that read your Facebook updates.  And your blog.  And your Tumblr account.  And on Google+.  And…

I think that’s what I’m calling for here…an end to the use of the term “social media expert”.  Or “wizard”.  Or “ninja”.  Or any of the other useless titles people are slapping on themselves these days…

…because they’re just not accurate.

You may be the T-Rex of Twitter, the Foreman of Facebook, the Brando of Blogging…

…but you are not a “social media expert”.

Now you’ll have to excuse me…these websites aren’t going to just build themselves, you know.

  1. Abby Elowsky says

    I prefer the term Social Media Coordinator because what folks really want in the end, is for someone to manage all this stuff for them and tell them which is best for their biz.

    The experts can keep writing books, the rest of us will get busy with the work…

  2. Gabe says

    –Sorry, this may be a tl;dr for some.

    Dave, I agree that the array of social media sites available these days makes it impossible for one to call himself a “social media expert.” Something that incenses me even more, however, is that most social media experts really are masters of the websites over which they claim domain, but, when hired by firms for consultation, fail to achieve the envisioned results.

    Of course, any “social media expert” will understand and articulate that their job pertains to marketing; they help companies gain prominence on Facebook/Twitter/Youtube/whatever because they are commonly untapped marketing resources. But, sadly, they don’t understand marketing (I’ve seen this problem to an infuriating degree with low-budget “social media experts” hired by small local companies). Exploiting the growing transmedial abilities of websites is not marketing. Gone are the days when embedding a video is a payable skill.

    What is marketing on social media? I won’t profess to be an expert. But if I were to hire someone to manage social media, they would be able not only to pull in high numbers of followers/likes/subscriptions (that is, POTENTIAL customers); they would be able to write well — and colorfully — to translate words on the timeline into action by patrons. This is a knack separate from simply mastering social media!

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