Over the last several months, I've seen the debate about whether or not social media experts really exist, or if they're more like space aliens - a fun story that most people don't really believe.
I'd like to address the myth of the social media expert. This post is really a response to another article I read earlier today. In that post, it was posited that there are very, very few that can claim that title. I especially liked this part: "Is 'social media expert' a stupid thing to call yourself? On one level, of course it is. 'Social media expert' is like being an 'internet expert.' It’s too broad, therefore it’s meaningless."
Yep. it the nail on the head. But that's not the part that REALLY rang true to me. It was this gem:
"One of the main reasons for all the Haterade is that too many high-profile social media pundits...loathe business. They imagine that sales are something that magically show up when you make lots of friends."
And there you have it, friends! Most of the people I see touting themselves as 'experts' in social media rant on about things like followers and Likes and Klout and subscribers and check-ins and blah blah blah. That's all fine and well, but how does that help meet business objectives?
When I applied for my current position as a social media specialist, I didn't talk about social media much at all. I came from a marketing background, and I talked about social media as a part of the organization's overall communications plan, integrated and consistent in voice and message. Yes, I had to show I knew social media tools well enough to use them, and I did demonstrate past successful usage of those tools (primarily Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn). But it was my understanding of how social media played a part in meeting organizational goals that got me the job.
Now, as far as the part about being an expert in social media being too broad, there's one other aspect that needs to be cleared up. I think there ARE experts, but that needs qualifying. As stated above, social media is too broad to have experts that truly know a lot about everything, . But people can be experts in different areas of social media, or different functions of social media, or experts on the various tools of social media. I just think it would be extremely difficult to be experts in all areas.
For businesses, you can in fact find a social media expert to hire. The challenge lies in defining what you need, which tools will help you get there, and then finding the person with that right mix of real expertise in the midst of all the noise.
Anyone dare to disagree with my watertight reasoning? =)