Do Social Media Experts Exist?

This is a very simple question with a complex answer and I think there is real truth in all online discussions about this, even though there is inherent contradiction in comparing these answers.

I’ve been in online advertising for thirteen years and for the past three years much of my work with clients and/or managing a virtual team has involved concentration on baseline Social Media Marketing; i.e. Blog, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Bookmarking, Profile Development, Content Syndication, Analytics, etc.

Outliers are Experts

Would I claim to be an expert? I’m not sure but if you contrast my skill set (and my team’s) with what Malcom Gladwell has espoused in his Seminal Book “Outliers”.

I do have 10K (plus) hours of blood sweat and tears in online marketing, which certainly gives me a level of proficiency like tens of thousands of others who have helped to build the online advertising industry.

Social Media Moving at Warp Speed

I also agree with others, Social Media Marketing is moving at warp speed and it’s difficult to keep up with the tremendous advances in technology, processes, cross pollination/syndication, new platforms, companies, etc. Real Time Search is a good example of this - we are just now starting to understand how to factor this in to our marketing campaigns for clients.

Defining A Social Media Expert

Throwing up a Facebook, Twitter or Flickr accounts and sprinkling in Hub or Squidoo Pages is not a Social Media Expert in my book. The easy part in many cases is the Social Media Marketing - understanding how to quantify and complement this with Domain Strategy, SEO Best Practices, good solid Web Site Design, Content Development and Syndication, Blog Platform and Writing, PR, an understanding of Analytics and how to adjust Social Media & Online Marketing in real time ads significant value.

I think you have to dig below the surface to find real “experts” in the field and I disagree with Radian6 CEO’s recent statement about “there are no Social Media Experts.” That’s the wrong answer in response to the wrong question - many Social Media Experts are grizzled online advertising managers who were using CompuServe Accounts in the late 80′s and were on AOL when it was only a couple of hundred thousand users.

We all get lost in the sex and sizzle espoused by the latest PowerPoint presented at the hottest trade show and the herd rushes to embrace another discipline, platform, “expert” - etc. It’s the ongoing “celebrification” of Social Media Marketing, which is not a good thing.

What Companies Really Need

What companies really need are holistic digital practitioners who understand the big picture, have some technical skills and most importantly, can help a firm navigate through the choppy digital shark filled waters with a detailed marketing strategy that is flexible, customer driven and concentrates on such fundamental ROI measurements such as Leads, Traffic, Purchases, Downloads, Views, Newsletter Sign ups, etc.

Let’s not confuse motion with action - Social Media Marketing, whether it’s driven by “Experts” or anyone for that matter doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Yes, the field is new and there is no shortage of folks on Twitter claiming to be experts who aren’t - there are (again) tens of thousands of great marketers who have a good feel for the medium and more importantly, how to integrate Social Media with other disciplines.

In this challenging global economy we need marketers who can help companies define strategy and tactical implementation - enabling them to get to market with the right product at the right price through the right channels - let’s not get lost in terminology and finger pointing. Let’s help each other…….