Friday, February 15, 2008

will the real social media expert please stand up?

I've been in several circumstances lately where the subject of social media expertise has bubbled to the surface of conversation. There appear to be some diverging opinions on this subject so I thought I'd pose the question to you, my loyal readers. But first a deep dive into the idea.

One of the facets of social media I find most fascinating is how many flavors there are to the concept. To some folks participating in social media simply means using an RSS feed to get their daily fix of news stories or other content they've chosen as personally relevant from an aggregate of sources. Others take it a step further by posting their own MySpace page, Facebook profile, LinkedIn profile, or some combination thereof. Some--and this number continues to grow steadily--take it even further and become *gasp* bloggers themselves.

Being a blogger personally--yet arguably far from an expert on the subject--I will say that blogging alone doesn't necessarily deliver a deeper familiarity with social media, other than experience using blogging tools like Blogger (which I use for this blog, obviously) and Wordpress (yes, I write another blog using that tool as well). But if the blogger is working diligently to increase his or her blog traffic, more than likely he or she is also taking one additional step to include every button or widget possible--tools like Technorati, Digg, Stumble--meant to drive the maximum traffic to their site.

So whom of these folks would win the coveted title in the battle to become a social media expert? To claim "guru" status in this growing field, would one need to be an avid blogger blogging about the social media movement while featuring their blog on their Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace pages which also include YouTube videos of them sitting and writing their blogs? In essence does just checking the box marked "all of the above" catapult you into the realm of virtual social media virtuoso? I can hear the collective exclaim of glee as all you bloggers start polishing your bios in hopes of starting that coveted career on the conference speaking cirtuit.

You want to know what I think? Probably not, but I'll tell you anyway. I think that it is virtually impossible to become an expert in a field that is as ever changing as Britney Spears' hair color. Sure someone can know a lot about what it takes to successfully drive site traffic through a well thought-out SEO, tagging, and linking strategy. And that same person could also be skilled at contriving creative concepts to ride the viral marketing waves that ebb and flow on Facebook. But to be an expert in a field that changes from one day to the next is akin to placing your hand in a running river; you can trap a small bit of water for the moment, but once you lift your hand again the river rushes on.

IMHO, there is a bit of a social media master in each of us. We all probably know more than we realize as we attempt to stay on top of concepts, software applications, and methods that are meant to make marketing "easier" by facilitating our ability to have deeper connections and conversations with our customers (a vague term that could mean readers, consumers of media, purchasers, etc.). Experts we may not be, but afficionados we probably are. And that's ok with me. Because as long as what I'm doing works at the moment, that's what counts. That is until "Whatever 3.0" comes along and the process--and my learning curve--begins all over again.


John said...

great post; I think that we are at the dawn of a paradigm that will take some iterations to prove who the experts are. Right now to me the experts are innovative and active folks who realize that mastery is in the iterations...

I agree social media takes on many forms for example conversations are media; media itself is social, reactions are social, commerce is becoming social.. it's social everthing everywhere..

social media changes the dynamics within networks, and those dynamics cause a 'conversion' or commerce.

i agree with you we won't really know who the experts are for some time..


John Anthony Hartman said...

Nice post.
If people want to know more about social media in portland they should check out- Social Media & Web 2.0 (WM316) @ PSU -

If you do not know Josh Bancroft he is an guru over at Intel and a good friend. From your twitter profile it sounds like we have many similar interest, I would enjoy chatting about these things over a coffee.

Rich said...


This is a very good post. My general rule of thumb when deciding who the real social media experts might be is to look for the ones who add insightful content without proclaiming themselves to be experts.

Often, and especially online, there doesn't seem to be such a thing.


johan32 said...

Yeah I know that real social media experts are needed in order to make your marketing campaigns successful otherwise you would only lose money as well as time. I never compromise with the quality of my online marketing campaigns and have hired the best SMM and seo company Los Angeles services. Highly satisfied with the results.