“Expert” is such a dodgy word to use especially when you try to link it in a title such as “social media marketing expert” and quite frankly should be banned when used in this context. Whenever I see anyone branding themselves as being an expert I am afraid I probably have the same reaction as many others -“You say you’re an expert? then prove it!” There are instances in many industries where experts are necessary and the title quite rightly give those with expert knowledge a status above others who do not.
However, when it comes to social media we all know that with technology developing at the rate that it is, it is very easy to dazzle our audiences with whizz kid pizzazz. We can create magical scenes with thousands of people doing ‘stuff’ online, painting a picture of our customers being able to make our millions just by some magic dust being sprinkled on our profiles and websites. But it is all potentially an illusion. There is no magic dust that will make you millions and there is really no such thing as a “social media marketing expert” – not yet anyway. But do you know the reasons why?
Being an internet marketing guru requires a whole lot more than an understanding of technology. Being an “expert” in how social media networking and social marketing work demands more than just a smidgen of comprehension of the software and tools being developed. Not to mention of course that you have to have nimble fingers and a quick mind to be able to get around the devices we now regularly use when we are interacting on the social networking platforms.
Even then, knowledge of these ingredients is NOWHERE near sufficient to cut it and make an impact on any of the social arenas. This is regardless of whether it is Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Ecademy, or any of the thousands of smaller lesser known communities or even a combination of a collection of them. You may even know how to link them all together to create a flow of data which feeds automatically and seamlessly from one platform to another. None of this is enough to really really be called a genuine expert. To really get Social Media especially when using it for marketing – you have got to ‘get’ people. You have to remain open-minded, tolerant, understanding, compassionate, and above all you have to be willing to listen. You can have all the magical tools in the world but if you don’t understand this fundamental element of online interaction then you will never be able to make it work for you.
Experts in “Social Networking” platforms and “Social Media Technology”, do they really know what “Social Media” is about?
One could argue that of course they do, they are re-inventing the tools and applications on a daily basis. On the other hand, ones who have a God-like understanding of the geeky machinery chuntering away behind the scenes, might not really comprehend the impact that these social platforms can have on people’s lives. And that is key. The Social Media world – is first and foremost about people. Genuine experts who can manipulate the machinery that powers the tools that communities use, could potentially have a tendency towards being rather mole like. I mean this in the kindest way of course, in that they are so passionate and absorbed in the cogs and wheels stuff that they don’t necessarily come up for light and air to party with people. I know that this is a stereotypical view and I only use it as an analogy to put forward a point. Knowing how stuff moves and how things link together is not enough to really get our social media to work for us – it helps but it is not everything.
Don’t underestimate the requirements in this particular aspect of dealing with the technological side of things. There are many choices to be made and some of them can be rather daunting. You may think that Facebook is just Facebook, or Twitter is just Twitter and so on. If you think it in these simple terms then you are going to fall short of expert status even before you have begun. There are not only the social networking sites themselves but a huge variety of types of platforms being used and the software can function in a variety of ways. Then there are the add-ons, tools and applications – each will show you some other way of using, measuring and connecting one site with another. If you are clever – you create the seamless flow but if not you can tie your audience up in a knot of total confusion. Worse still a loop which repeats itself like a very stuck record and no amount of kicking the devices will get it to skip a beat and move on. More likely you will make them feel like they are experiencing Ground Hog Day on Spaghetti Junction.
Then there are the devices. Which to use? How much do they cost? Are they going to suit the size and nimbleness of your digits? Will you comprehend the functions? Will they integrate with the sites you use? Are there suitable applications to knit things together? Will you still be able to talk to your friends and family if you break away from what you have all had before? Too many choices and very soon we suffer information overload and can’t decide what to do. I am happy to admit, short of knowing that I love my Mac, I am totally dependent on others for letting me know which are the devices that are most likely to suit me and my needs.
Who can show us the way to navigate the labyrinthine world of Social networking and people centric media interactions?
Personally I take a slightly different view to some – I believe that YOU are the best teacher YOU can have. There is no ‘one’ teacher, guru or expert who can show you the way but rather a series of people who have experiences that we can emulate and/or learn from. Word of warning though – NEVER copy anyone else’s style or methods – they never work the same. You must watch, listen and learn what others to do and take from that the things that might work for you and integrate them into your own way of doing things. If you take this approach then EVERYONE is your Social Media teacher. From your children to your executives – everyone can show you something about how social media can work for you.
Ultimately, you know your business better than anyone – well, you should anyway. You should know your customers and their buying habits and how they interact with you on a daily basis. What you know should be your first foundation stone for building your social media presence. You can join workshops, emulate competitors, listen to advice, study your niche, follow your heroes, attend courses, and so on. Everyone can be your mentor and your guide. Take the advice and tips you glean, digest and then be prepared to throw it away if you can’t see how you can make it work for you. There are people with more experience than you who you can ask to mentor you through the early stages but a good social media coach or mentor will get you to look to see what YOU can do and build on that first.
Can We Define A”Social Media marketing Expert”? Would you recognise someone with expertise in social media marketing if you saw them?
For me, the only way a person can be defined as a genuine “Social media Marketing Expert”, you have to be a people person and have an understanding of the technology we use. It is not about the technology first nor is it about the bottom line statistics that prove that you have made an impact on the market place. It is about building up relationships as one individual with another – one person at a time. Sometimes you have to have the patience of a saint and you will have to deal with the many people who have not yet understood what it is to really be human and play nicely online. Then there are the customers who are real technophobes who quiver in terror at the thought of pressing or clicking on anything online in case they get zapped into some black hole or other. With all of them you have to be able to put yourself in their shoes and learn to walk like they do – otherwise you do not stand a chance of being able to help them.
Above all the best social media gurus, experts or consultants will teach you how to listen. Listen to your network, listen to your audience, hear what they have to say, hear their troubles, pains and problems and listen to HOW they want to be helped to solve the challenges that you can. It is about experimentation, experience, using a multitude of skills and a variety of expertise, being exemplary and getting excited about connecting with inhabitants of the world. You may not know how that will translate into profits but if you listen hard enough and long enough you will find a way. Your return on investment needs to be measured in a different way – and it does need to be measured but to be successful you need to keep an open mind about what the important things are that need to be quantified – they may not be the ones that you would normally use in marketing terms. In reality the real “Social Media Marketing Experts” are your customers.
The question is – what qualities do you think that a genuine bone fide social media marketing expert should have to be called an expert in their field?
Coming soon – another blog letting you know what I am willing to be called with a little more about why I AM an expert.
If you are interested in hearing about my Social Media Marketing activities then perhaps you would like to join Judith Germain and I on 10th May 2010 when we will be running a workshop “How to leverage your reputation AND use social marketing to gain more business”
21st Century business development using Reputation, Attraction and Social Media Marketing.
I am likely to be telling you about how I became the official Morris Dancer stalker on Twitter. I might tell you how my social media activities made an impact which get the feature film the much needed distribution deal. It is also likely that I will mention one or two experiences in marketing luxury niche market products – what has worked well and what hasn’t. Essentially though I am not putting myself up as THE social media marketing expert but rather facilitating a discussion in which we can come up with ways and means to embrace this new era of connecting with our public.
More details of the workshop can be found in Marketplace – where all the salesy stuff is but essentially it is an all day thing and consists of two parts.
Part 1 – “How to leverage your reputation and demonstrate your expertise to gain more business.” – Judith Germain
Part 2 – “Connections, Conversations and Conversions: Finding your voice and learn how to use the new social marketing tools to promote your business.” – Georgina Lester.
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