Every day, I get a number of new followers on Twitter who all have something in common – they bill themselves as social media experts or gurus.
I’m here to tell you right now that you are not. Sorry to burst your bubble.
These “experts” come in a wide range of flavors, some worse than others. But one thing is certain…none of them are actually experts.
The Job Hunter
The first social media “expert” I see on Twitter is what I call the job hunter. These are people who have no real basis of calling themselves social media experts, but who, frankly, need work. So, they embrace social media, thinking that this is a job they can easily do at home to make money. They may have robust personal accounts, but rarely do they have any kind of professional experience with social media. They bill themselves as experts because they think social media is an easy way to make money.
Social media is a brand new avenue for traditional marketers, and I applaud those who are forward-thinking enough to embrace Twitter and other new media tools. That said, if you’re brand new to social media, you are not a social media expert, no matter how many years of experience you have in traditional marketing and advertising. These people are typically easy to pick out because they approach social media in a direct marketing type of way. They bill themselves as experts because they think social media is the same as traditional marketing tools that they use.
Also common on Twitter is the “professional.” Note: just because you are paid to do something doesn’t mean that you are an expert at it. I think this is the problem with more social media “experts.” Really, what makes you an expert? Because you do it all day? Because you are successful at it? Because people pay you for your help? I don’t know that any of those things makes anyone an expert. It does make you a professional – and that’s awesome!
But the term “expert” makes me think that you know all there is to know about a subject. Or at least pretty close.
I would argue that no one – not a single person out there – is a social media expert. The field is too new. Everything in this field is changing really, really quickly. Just when you think you’re an expert, the world of social media changes, and you have roughly a billion new things to learn. So you can be a professional…but are you an expert? In my mind, no.
Some Closing Thoughts
Bottom line, if you’re trying to make money giving other people social media advice, if you’re “the job hunter,” get some experience under your belt before you start charging people for your services. And if you’re “the marketer” – take some time to learn new types of media before you start dishing out advice that doesn’t make sense in this new world.
And if you’re “the professional”? Keep doing what you do…but be careful. By calling yourself an expert, you set up expectations in people’s minds, and it is hard to be an expert of any sort in an industry that is so new. When you call yourself an expert, it makes me afraid that you think you know everything, that you’re not going to make an effort to learn anymore.
Before I close out this post, I did want to make a few more points that I see a lot of “experts” from all three of the above categories making:
- You are not a social media expert if you follow me on Twitter and then unfollow me the next day, having never said anything to me at all, because I haven’t auto-followed you in return.
- You are not a social media expert if you only have a dozen followers.
- You are not a social media expert if you send me auto DMs about your services, your blog, or anything else – and you’re especially not a social media expert if you send me multiple auto DMs.
- You are not a social media expert if your stream is all automated links, with no RTs, @ replies, or personal tweets in any way.
And remember, calling yourself a social media expert doesn’t make you one. I would much rather see proof of your expertise – show me results in terms of numbers, give me testimonials from your clients, and use Twitter in a way that proves you know how to use it.