If there’s one word that’s derided – nay, spat on – by the social media community, it’s the term “social media expert”.
I guess I have to yell at the outset here, that this is not a blog about my own capacities or some search for approval. I’m just amused by the massive backlash against the term, such an obligatory backlash that one now feels obliged to loudly state at every meeting or every online encounter “I’m not an expert” or “don’t shoot me please .. I really really don’t know anything and besides, social media experts are the scum of the earth”.
[But if I’m not an expert, then why the hell should organisations pay me for advice? More on that in a future blog …]
“Social media expert” has a bad brand image, perhaps soiled through overuse by the entrepreneurial-yet-seedy-crowd. Here’s some reasons for why this may be:
- Social media is constantly evolving and it’s impossible for one individual to keep up with all the possibilities, emerging platforms and latest trends (nor should one be expected to, incidentally)
- The ‘social media craft’ is something that, realistically, anyone could learn from their laptop kitchen bench. (I mean, Zuckerberg created Facebook in his college dorm, for chrissakes, and Pete Cashmore started Mashable in his basement … we’re used to “non professionals” creating social media phenomenon that grow into monstrous organisations).
- Social media is still seen as frivolous by some, a fad for people “who don’t have a life” or the haunt of pimply teenagers. How could someone possibly be an expert in the field?
So, all over Twitter, you’ll see the bios of people vehemently denying they’re a “social media expert”. Or blogs pointing out how to avoid these outrageous charlatans.
But what does “expert” really mean? According to the Macquarie Dictionary, an expert is “a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field”. Wikipedia elaborates (as it does) by stating that “An expert is someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly, justly, or wisely is accorded authority and status by their peers or the public in a specific well-distinguished domain”.
Maybe people in the social media realm are wary of the mantle because they simply don’t want to wear it. It’s a lot of responsibility. If you’re at a party, and you admit you’re an electrician: you know you’re going to be asked to fit someone’s ceiling fan. Or if you announce you’re a doctor: someone will show you their skin rash.
But if you say you’re a social media expert, it’ll be even more excruciating, because your party crowd will be sure to say the following:
a) I don’t get Twitter
b) Why don’t you turn off the computer and get a real life?
c) People on Facebook get stalked and killed
d) Has anyone really made any money out of it?
Just console yourself that you can snap open your iPhone and tweet to the people who really get you … your fellow social media experts.