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What’s the Difference Between Social Media Experts and Experienced Social Media Users

with 4 comments

Last month I wrote a post titled “Why Social Media Experts Keep Finding Jobs” that focused on social media gurus and why we don’t really need to hire them.  The post was based on an article by Peter Shankman that explained why he wouldn’t hire someone who used that kind of title when applying for jobs.  I certainly agree that you should avoid anyone branding themselves an expert at social media, I’m starting to feel someone listing experience with social media shouldn’t necessarily be avoided.

Soon after I published the original post, it was tied to another WordPress post by Marissa Gagnier titled ‘On being a Social Media “Guru”‘.  The post is in opposition to Shankman’s view and she elaborated on her duties and why she feels that social media is more than just a skill that anyone can pick up.

Today, Mashable posted an article about five strategies that business can use to create a better social media presence that isn’t bogged down by the usual red-tape that companies go through before sending a response to their customers. Their last two tips are to “ire qualified talent” and “learn from others.”  Both sections discuss hiring experienced social media and community managers as consultants to help educate experienced employees to use social media.  The idea is that the experienced employees already know enough about the products and processes of the companies that they can quickly respond to customers without having to go through the red-tape, or at least only go through a limited form of the usual channels to respond.

The major issue here is branding.  Shankman’s article is assertive about not wanting to hire someone who runs around calling themselves an expert, “a guru, rockstar or savant.”  The problem is that there’s no way to measure that kind of expertise when compared to other social media users. There’s no degree and no grading that says you’re better than everyone else, so why are you claiming the top?  It would be like claiming that you’re an expert phone answerer because you worked the phones at an office as your last job.  That doesn’t mean you’re an expert, it means you have experience, and it’s far more likely that the businesses sniffing you out for your social media skills are more interested in your experience and knowledge than how much of an expert you consider yourself.

Of course, there are probably still companies that are looking for social media experts, gurus, rockstars or what-have-you, so you should change your presentation to mirror their expectations.


Written by Christopher Siler

2011/07/05 at 20:27

4 Responses

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  1. Christopher,

    I love your explanation of titles vs. experience. I wrote my original blog post in a state of frustration, being judged by people BECAUSE of my title as opposed to being judged based on my experience. Because I handle Social Media on a professional level for a Global corporation, a title, is unfortunately, a must. And it was never destined to be something exciting like rockstar or guru. You are absolutely correct in your point about it being a branding problem. At the end of the day – you cannot prove what you cannot measure, and social media is a very difficult thing to measure indeed. I am no more qualified than anyone else based on my title – but my experience, and the things I can prove & measure will undoubtedly set me – and us apart from the rest of the self-proclaimed “Gurus”. Thank you for the follow-up post!



    Marissa Gagnier

    2011/07/05 at 21:49

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