Missing Piece of the Social Media Puzzle

I am NOT a Social Media “Expert”

I know an awful lot about Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and a myriad other social media sites, platforms and programs, but I don’t claim to be an expert. I live social media 16/7 (I do have to sleep sometime), both personally and professionally, but I don’t consider myself an “expert”. I spend hours each week researching new platforms, new management programs, new ideas, campaigns, case studies, formulas, analytics and infographics. I read articles, blogs, tweets, posts and e-newsletters. I converse with clients, friends and total strangers by Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, BranchOut, LinkedIn, Empire Avenue and even the occasional text message. I certainly have expertise in social media, but I am not an expert!

Why the rant today? The more time I spend on social media, the more often I find people who are calling themselves an expert, maven, diva, queen, king…what have you, but don’t seem to be doing what they think YOU should do!

I consider myself a social media “pro”. I am a professional social media marketer, a social media virtual assistant, a social media trainer and advisor. I am trained in Public Relations with a Bachelor of Public Relations from Mount Saint Vincent University. I can look at a client’s goals and determine pretty quickly where they should focus their marketing and PR efforts–and help them do that. And when they come to my website, fan page and Twitter account, I want them to see what I can do for them and get a feel for my style.


Missing Piece of the Social Media Puzzle

As a social media “expert”, leaving your own profiles unattended is like leaving out the last piece of a puzzle.

I came across the website of a competitor the other day…not the first one, but the one that sparked this blog post. This Twitter “expert” has a Twitter account with six posts in three months. The question of how often to tweet is hotly debated, but I can assure you that everyone in the industry agrees that twice a month is not enough. Another business I recently found listed a wide variety of clients, but as I checked out those client profiles I found more than a few that were seriously out of date. These two “experts” can not be inspiring confidence in their potential clients.

Would you hire a photographer that had terrible photos in their portfolio? Would you hire a business coach who’s clients had all gone out of business? Would you hire a plumber with leaky pipes at his last job? Of course not! So why would you hire a social media professional who can’t even keep their own accounts up to date?

So no, I am not a social media “expert”–I am a social media professional. There is MUCH more I can learn about social media. I have a sneaking suspicion I will never know everything there is to know about social media. I tweet and post daily. My profiles are full of useful information, conversations with other tweeters, recommendations and retweets–as are those of my clients. I “live” social media. And I LOVE social media…all of it!

If you are considering hiring a social media “expert” to help you with your social media, here are a few questions to get you thinking and to help you find the right social media “professional”.

  • Does this person have a personal or professional profile on the social media platforms you expect to use and are they well-kept?
  • Does this company’s clients have up-to-date profiles/pages?
  • Does the writing style of the person managing the profiles work for your business?
  • Does the background (training or experience) of the person match your business goals? (a graphic designer is not an SEO manager, is not a website developer, is not a writer, is not a photographer…and none are necessarily a good community manager)
  • Is this company simply going to tweet/post what you send them? Or will they research appropriate materials to tweet on your behalf? What are you comfortable with?
  • Is this person telling me to do more than I really think I need to do? Do they have solid reasons behind their recommendations?
  • Does this person understand how to integrate social media with other avenues of promotion you might be using (live events, newsletters, website, blog, or traditional advertising)?
  • What systems are in place for dealing with negative feedback, problems, spam or internet trolls on your accounts?
  • Will this company work to build your following? How will this be accomplished?
  • What commitment is required from you or your staff to implement the social media plan you are implementing.

I think the term “expert” is loaded. I shudder when it is used. Who determines your level of “expertise”? At what point in an ever-changing field do you become an expert? How do YOU define “expert”? Let me know in the comments.

Comments (3)

  • Shari Reply

    Great post. Makes a lot of great points.

    I think expertise comes with experience, practice and continuous learning. It requires an understanding of the entire process (whether that be social media or repairing an automobile), but you can then be an expert in a certain part of that process. Imagine trying to be a social media expert, but not knowing how the internet works.

    I also think it is up to consumers to do their research to see what qualifies someone as being an expert. Just because a company knows more than I do about a topic doesn’t make them an expert …. but that’s all it takes for some consumers!

    July 7, 2011 at 11:08 am
  • Linda Daley Reply

    All excellent points and, with your permission, I’d like to use your checklist as a contributed article in my next newsletter. I’ve been guilty of using the word ‘expert’ to describe myself and my clients from time to time. I’d like to think that I’ve used it ethically. Of course, at the heart of this is a discussion around perception. However, I do think that ‘professional’ (or even ‘specialist’) are perhaps more appropriate to many of us in the techie-type services these days. Sometimes it is more a matter of comparison – varying levels of expertise. I’m always amazed when people ask for my help with social media because it seems so obvious to me that I’m far from being an expert at that 😉

    July 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm
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