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.