I’ve seen quite a few things recently written about “social media experts”. It’s my turn to chime in. Since social media itself is pretty new, the way it is being used is even newer and constantly changing.
In the traditional world, to become an expert you would go to school, earn a degree and have defined proof that you were able to master many of the nuances of a topic or field. With the lightening-speed arrival of the Internet and web 2.0, most people didn’t wait for a degree or for the curriculum to be built, they became experts by doing. This same concept applies to social media.
Since there are few standard to gage by, the rules are being made up as we go along. That has caused a few “self described” experts to take it upon themselves to create their own definitions. I find this a somewhat narrow point of view. Kind of like creating a club and then only inviting the people you want to it.
I was talking recently to a client. He said that he was approached by a social media company to help them manage their social media brand. He asked them what their company page was on Facebook. They replied that they had individual pages and client pages but not a company page. He dismissed them as “not experienced enough”.
Ok, so I understand that there are some different nuances to managing a corporate page on Facebook than a personal one. Some of the options do work differently. But why penalize a company for how they market themselves? Shouldn’t it be about what they do for their clients?
I guess it did hit a nerve with me. Does nxtConcepts have a Facebook page? Yup. Do we do much with it? Nope. I think because we frankly run out of steam when we get done updating all the other networks we are on such as: Twitter, Plaxo, Friendfeed, mySpace, Technorati, SecondLife, TripIt, TalkBizNow, Digg, Kiva, LinkedIn, Yahoo, YouTube, Zazzle, eBay, Reddit, Blogger, Twitpic, Flickr, Squidoo and others. Not to mention the work we do for clients in these and other spaces. The other point is that Facebook may be critical to many of the ski resorts and other clients we work with in a business to consumer relationship but frankly in a business to business situation it sucks. So, why devote considerable time there, when other social networks are more in-line with our corporate marketing strategy? Just to say we can?
Another writer says there are styles of social media experts including:
the “Power User” (someone that has built an established following over a long period of time),
the “Content Creator” (create and launch content tailored to the social world’s desires),
the “Salesman” (tout ways to make money or blatantly try to sell you something) and
the “Famous” (comfortable with the brand, the person or know of their accomplishments).
So that’s it? Is social media just a popularity contest? Is this why businesses have a hard time justifying a portion of their marketing budget to it? I believe it can be so much more. The goal for business is to engage with the people that are interested in what you do. Not to spend extraordinary amounts of time to interact with a world of uninterested people. That to me is what defines a social media expert — the person or team that can pinpoint who you need to engage, on what networks, and with what content. And, it is our job to keep expanding the definition and finding ways to make it work for our us and our clients.