Please don’t call me a “social media expert”

I recently did an interview with Corwin Christie for the Technology in the Arts blog. As you know, in June, I launched my e-book: Getting Started With Social Media for Artists and Arts Organizations. Since then, the good little marketer that I am, I’ve been exploring every avenue to promote it, so I was totally jazzed when Corwin found me and asked to do an interview with me.

I have to say, those were some some tough questions, but I like a challenge. You can read the final post here.

The back says "because this t-shirt says so"
The back says "because this t-shirt says so"

In the introduction to the post, Corwin rightly goes on to reflects on the term “social media expert”, which is a term that I have always felt uncomfortable applied to myself.

Really, anyone with a Twitter account can call themselves a social media expert. I mean, there’s nothing to stop them. There is no professional association of social media experts, no university or college certifications. Our world is so new, we are literally making it up as we go along.

What alarms me about the term “social media expert” is, people who are just jumping on the social media bandwagon may come across a self-professed “social media expert” and purchase services from them: a course, some consulting, or yes, an e-book. And it’s really buyer beware. Just because you call yourself a social media expert, doesn’t mean you are Gary Vanderchuck or Guy Kawasaki.

So, here’s  a couple of ways to tell if someone is really an expert or not.

  1. What are the numbers? Check out their profiles on Facebook and Twitter. How many friends do they have? What is their Twitter follower-to-followee ratio? Do they have a Facebook Fan page? And if so, how many fans? This point is about sheer quantity.
  2. Do they offer value? Check out their posts on Facebook and Twitter. Are they all personal? Are they all links to cute YouTube puppy videos? Or are they links of value, linking to their own blog, or someone elses’ about the latest and greatest in social media?
  3. Do they have a website? Is their website entirely dedicated to selling, or are there some freebies or useful information? Is there an about page so that you can get to know a little about them?
  4. Do they have a blog? How long have they been blogging for? Does their blog have an about page? A blogroll?
  5. Most importantly, are they interacting? I have sent tweets to folks who looked (on paper) like they were really serious about social media, but they never responded. This is likely because they had someone set up their twitter account for them and follow a bunch of people, and they schedule all of their tweets using SocialOoomph or Hootsuite. This is all about the quality of their presence online.

These are all useful criteria for judging expert status.

Personally, I’m uncomfortable with the term. I prefer to think of myself as someone who is learning about this stuff, but I’m just a little ahead of the curve. And maybe a couple of people along the way can benefit from my experience.

For a bit of fun (and some solid info) on the topic, check this out.

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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

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