Archive for April 22nd, 2010

Social Media Experts

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Where did this term come from? How does one become a “Social Media Expert.” What are the credentials or qualifications for such a thing? I keep hearing all these people who self-label as social media gurus and whatnot. They just seem to throw it out there like it’s nothing. I recently interviewed someone for an communications intern type position and she told me she was a social media expert and that she knows more about social media than most people in Canada. This is such a strange thing to say, because I think this doesn’t actually mean anything.

I feel like calling yourself a social media expert is akin to calling yourself a public transportation expert. Well, you know, I’ve been taking public transportation since 1997 and I am on there several times a day every single day! Yeah yeah, I’m great at getting on buses, getting off streetcars, meeting people on the subway, I can get myself anywhere, etc, just awesome! I know more about public trasportation than most people in Canada.

When you’re a child and don’t have any life experience or you’re from a small town or from the country with no access to public transportation and you’re from the early 20th century and you’ve never heard of buses or trains, you might hear someone say “Hey, I’m an expert on public transportation,” you would be very impressed! However, if you’ve grown up in present day and public transportation is such a part of every day life that you take it for granted and wouldn’t even imagine saying you’re an expert in something so ordinary and invisible. It’s also such a broad category of something to be an expert in and it is unclear. For example, maybe you are trying to say you are an expert at fixing streetcars, or you know all the different models of subways by sight, or you have a scam going on where you get on for free, you know? It’s not a valid claim and doesn’t actually mean anything of value to people who know how public transportation works.

That’s how I feel when someone says they are an expert in social media. It’s so vague, man. What does that even mean? You know about the various social media forms? You know how to send out a group text? You know how to create an event? You know how to “like” things? All users of this stuff know this already. You know how to read metrics and analytics? You know how to program apps? You are good at community building and interaction on brand? You can design a social media campaign? There are actual categories for that like, experience and interaction design, technologist, programmer, digital community coordinator, strategic planner, digital copywriter, etc, etc. No one who legitimately works in the media ever calls themselves a socal media expert in general terms. Do they? Maybe they do. They shouldn’t.

Whenever I hear anyone call themselves a social media expert I think that either they don’t fully understand what social media is and how to work in it or they are trying to fool someone who they think doesn’t know what social media is. Am I crazy? It’s seems like such a common label, but I suspect people are just making it up. Please feel free to argue with me.

And then I google image searched “public transportation expert.” I liked these:

11997-eating_public_transportation

shibuya-monkey-feb-2009-expert

joetransit_large1

Wendell cox podium 300pix