Isn’t it about time we stop ragging on “social media experts?” I understand the origin of the ridicule; there are marketers, authors and “professional” speakers who seek to leverage “first-to-market” advantage when new technologies, methodologies or processes are introduced, even when little is known about that in which they’re professing to be experts. When social media as a marketing discipline first emerged, many marketers were quick to add social media to their job titles and business cards. Others restructured their advertising businesses to focus on the practice and still others wrote articles, started blogs or published books to establish themselves as subject-matter experts.
The Social Media “Expert” title – along with all its derivatives: guru, ninja, chief people talker, ant colony foreman, etc. – was quickly called out as smoke and mirrors and scorned by most in the profession. How could anyone be an expert in something that’s still evolving, still undefined? Yet, there were many who believed these snake oil salesmen and hired the self-proclaimed experts, read their blogs and bought their books. To be fair, in many cases, expert status (and ridicule) was imposed on some individuals because they dared to be early adopters and share their initial insights and beliefs, even though they never claimed the status. Unfortunately, criticism was levied against those who claimed to be an expert and those who were called experts by others with equal disdain. It’s become a national pastime and fodder for many blogs.
I agree that the notion of a social media expert – at that time – was ridiculous. If the definition of an expert is someone who has more knowledge or experience than another person on a particular subject, then I guess the criticisms were off-base and we’re all an expert in something. However, that’s not the definition of expert.
Noun: A person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.
Adjective: Having or involving such knowledge or skill.
Fast forward to today and criticisms of Social Media Experts are still hurled fast and furious across the socialsphere. Those deemed experts are still the butt of jokes whispered at marketing conferences across the country. Given the true definition of an expert, isn’t it time we gave up our routine of scorning those who have real expertise? How long does someone have to be involved in the medium before he or she can be considered an expert? Certainly, there are individuals today who have the requisite experience and results to be classified experts. I can name a handful of marketing and PR professionals who I believe are truly experts in social media. Experts like Danny Brown, Gini Dietrich or Ric Dragon are just a few that come to mind; they’re people that I would hire without hesitation based on what I classify an expert to be.
Let’s give credit where credit is due and not, as the saying goes, “throw the baby out with the bath water.” It may not yet be acceptable to call oneself a social media expert but they certainly exist today.
Who do you believe is a true social media expert? Share your thoughts below or, if you believe there’s truly no such thing let us know why.
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