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Guest Blog Post: Which Social Media “Expert” are you?

Nov 13, 2009

Here’s a funny and informative post by our friend Bridget Forney titled “Which Social Media “Expert” Are You?”.  You can read more of Bridget on her blog or follow her on twitter @BridgetForney.

Which Social Media “Expert” are you?

These days, it’s not hard to find an expert on social media. Well, to rephrase, it’s not hard to find a self-proclaimed expert on social media. With the semi-recent craze for all things Twitter, Facebook and web 2.0, everyone seems to be coming out of the woodworks announcing their know-it-all status when it comes to online marketing and poking around the deep dark corners of networking websites. But how knowledgeable are these “experts”? What makes a social media expert to begin with? Which social media expert are you?

There are a few types of “experts” on the web that you may run into when looking for a professional in the social media world. Heck, you may very well be one of these social media experts. Read on to investigate the inner workings of online “specialists”…

The Twitter Expert
The Twitter Expert is one who has a Twitter account, and is probably an obsessive tweeter. They probably follow people in the thousands in an effort to increase their “follower” numbers. The people they’re following most likely will exceed their followers by a number in the hundreds at the least. This expert thinks they specialize in all things Twitter, but they’re likely the type of “I am clipping my toenails right now”-tweeter that you try to avoid. Follower quantity means more to them than follower quality and to credit their expertise, they’ll often boast about the number of followers they have – even though 80% of them are likely spammers. If you don’t follow the Twitter Expert back, they might shamelessly DM you to say, “Will you follow me back!?”

The Business Expert
The Business Expert is one who has an online presence for their business, either on Twitter, Facebook, both or other networking websites. This expert thinks their knowledge of social media is credible due to the fact that they use it for their business. This expert is about as much a social media connoisseur as the person who hands out teriyaki chicken samples in the food court at the mall is an expert at marketing Thai food. Just because you play the game, doesn’t mean you should be a coach.

The Local Expert
The Local Expert is a native to the area and may or may not be a shameless self-promoter. This expert promotes their credibility through the fact that they know the city, the town and what’s going on with the local culture, thus they probably tweet useful information often and may have a substantial and legitimate following. The only problem is, this expert probably learned everything they know from someone else. All of the information they give you is likely second hand knowledge and they may or may not take the credit for it. There is no disputing the fact that The Local Expert is experienced and familiar with using social media applications, but by no means are they social media specialists or should be offering their “services” to others.

The Unemployed Expert
The Unemployed Expert, it goes without saying, does not have a job. For this reason, they can spend unparalleled amounts of time online perfecting their social media expertise. They’re the people you see flooding your update column with useful, and sometimes controversial thoughts…ALL the time. Sparking a controversial conversation with an A-lister is probably the highlight of their jobless day. It’s okay though, because due to those particular conversations, they’re seen and virally heard by hundreds, sometimes millions. At the end of the day, sometimes it’s their social media presence that ends up getting them hired. The Unemployed Expert will likely know social media pretty well, but may or may not know the inner workings of strategic communications specifically for businesses. Ancient Chinese Proverb: He who can market himself, may not necessarily be capable of marketing others.

The Public Relations Expert
The Public Relations Expert is usually a professional in the marketing industry who first stumbled upon the beautiful world of social media in an effort to promote or advertise a client. These professionals were probably the first people online who immediately recognized the power of social media, harnessed its raging potential and used it to their advantage. Whether or not they do it effectively, however, is open to interpretation. The Public Relations, or PR, Expert accredits their expertise to the fact that they use social media for their client(s). This lucky expert has the ability to transfer their authoritative status in the marketing industry over to the world of social media. Some PR Experts can talk the talk, but not all can walk the walk.

The Salesman Expert
The Salesman Expert is generally someone who isn’t at all interested in joining a social conversation, and doesn’t really care about social media at all. This selfish social savant is only interested in selling their own product or service, and their updates will generally reflect that. These Internet marketers will sometimes boast about having the secret juice, the magic dust that will bring you followers. Don’t fall for it. Like a fat person trying to lose weight, the only way to gain followers is by doing it the good old-fashioned way: hard work and (metaphorical) exercise.

If you think your expertise has been questioned here, it probably has. Don’t get your panties in a bundle; it’s for good reason. Step back and ask yourself which social media expert are you? Are you a mixture of a few classifications? Should you REALLY be offering “services” to others on social media? The definition of a social media “expert” should not be open for interpretation. It’s not a grey issue. You either are or you aren’t.

If you’re not sure, a good rule of thumb is to wait until someone ELSE says you are. Otherwise, you’ve just been self-diagnosed. Where’s the credibility? You can tweet about being an expert and others can too; you may even have your own website, blog and newsletter, but the only thing that can qualify you as a REAL social media expert is a PROVEN track record of success. That means results.

I’ll leave you with this ancient Chinese proverb: Keep your broken arm inside your sleeve.
Go forth and tweet,
Bridget Marie

P.s. If you know of an Expert I didn’t list here, please leave me a comment and I’ll add it to the list!

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