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You Say You Are A Social Media Expert Or Guru. OK, Prove It

I swear (it seems literally and often lately) that if I see one more self professed Expert or Guru I am going to spontaneously combust. Which is to say, this would be me last Will and Testament because no doubt by the time I finish typing this I will have two new Guru followers.

So here goes... if you are such a person I hope you have a track record. You better be able to show some results.

Why? Besides the obvious your competition is now FIERCE:

Social Media Gurus And Experts

Self-Proclaimed Social Media Gurus on Twitter Multiplying Like Rabbits and the above graph are from a few weeks back about the crazy number of Social Media Experts and Social Media Gurus on Twitter and the exponential growth in the use of such terms. I used to think that an expert was in the top 5% or 2% of their industry.

Wow, we are so blessed to have so many talented people amongst us. (read with sarcasm)

I am now seeing job seekers using these phrases to describe themselves. HR and Recruiter friends too.

STOP STOP STOP doing this. You look like a fool.

I am going to start administering the following test so such self proclaimed individuals can prove their worth.

  • Show us the results on your blog. You do have one, right?
  • Where is the White Paper?
  • What groups have invited you to be a speaker?
  • What are some of your results?
  • List the articles you have been mentioned in
  • Name drop a few clients

It is not about how many followers (Spam victims) you have on Twitter (and for my HR and Recruiter friends LinkedIn connections), the number of Tweets you have been able to auto generate or your Facebook Fan Page. What have you done with it matters.

Memo to event organizers: you should copy some of my questions and make sure you are getting what was promised in a speaker.

No this is not my first rant about these people, here are my previous ramblings Validating Guru And Expert Status and Rant About “Experts” And “Gurus” Slinging Bull Shit. I have dedicated more posts to this than Gopher football in the past year so clearly I have and continue to be annoyed. Sure I need to get over it but it may take an intervention.

I followed a local conversation that included two people I have a lot of respect for, Arik Hanson (@ArikHanson) and Andrew Eklund (@aeklund).

Andrew had the following Tweets:

  • A social media expert has repeatedly created measurable value that align with organizational goals.
  • A social media practitioner knows how to use a variety of social media tools.
  • A social media persona is one who has cultivated a large personal following through wit, sharing, insights, and/or wisdom.
  • I'm just riffing here... Fact is there's no certifiable "expert" ranking for social media. So we have to make up our own filters.

Those are some good definitions.

Andrew has also written about this in the Minneapolis Star/Tribune Curiosity, Skepticism, and Rational Thinking: Basic Tenets of Digital Leadership and 5 Key Questions When Selecting a Social Media Firm

I wonder.... If one claims Expert or Guru status would they claim to be in the Big Leagues or an All Star if they were playing Class A baseball?

I bet they would.

Comments

Jeff Skrentny CERS

Thank you for your continued "rants." I hope you will continue to challenge both the buyers and the sellers of these services. Buyers to know what they are buying and prove that they are hiring themselves an expert. And sellers to answer the questions you list above. They have worked for years in many other service professions, no reason they shouldn't work here.

Joel Dahlin

Paul, I so feel the same way. The problem is, there are so many people that have no idea about social media. These people turn to "the experts" to educate them and get them on track.

I went to a social media presentation this past summer just to see what they had to say.

The entire audience of 40 people really had no idea about any social media channels. So they just ate up what the presenter had to say.

Sitting there and listening I could tell the presenter themself had only very minimal knowledge of social media. It was very frustrating sitting there. This person is traveling around the state charging $40 a head teaching something they know little about themself.

Afterwards I went home to see what the presenter was doing for social media for themself. They would post on twitter, linkedIn, and facebook once a day. So, posting on these three channels just once a day warranted the person the title of an expert????

Great post.

Jeff Nolan

Paul, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic. I too get annoyed by the constant flooding of people self-anointing themselves experts, in any category, let alone social media. You make very valid points about questions to ask a speaker or individual who claim to be an expert. Let ones peers and clients determine the validity of this so-called "expert badge".

One way I like to think about it, "Would you buy a BMW (pick your model) from a guy/girl who drove a Lexus?" Use what you sell and have a passion for it that is undeniable.

Karen Mattonen

thank you, thank you, thank you..

And let's not forget the "influencers" the ones who were considered HR and Recruiting Influencers on that Noted List.. the list the states less than 20% were even of the h.r and recruiting industry..

Are we that pathetic we can't influence ourselves?

Aye..well, guess it is all part of being Open, and Honest and Transparent..

Nicole Bodem

Oh Paul - Leave up to you to change my mood. I literally laughed out loud. In all seriousness though, this problem is just growing and its sad. Companies are being taken advantage of, the only way to get around this is by education. It’s important to know the right questions to ask that will help identify the real industry experts. Good for Andrew for writing the above article.

The reality though is the days of SEO and social media being separate are over. Social media is an integral element of a successful SEO campaign in the current recruiting landscape. So if you have a good SEO, they should also be familiar with the Social media landscape. In my opinion, an expert has to do more than just talk about these topics.

Nicole Bodem

Oh Paul - Leave up to you to change my mood. I literally laughed out loud. In all seriousness though, this problem is just growing and its sad. Companies are being taken advantage of, the only way to get around this is by education. It’s important to know the right questions to ask that will help identify the real industry experts. Good for Andrew for writing the above article.

The reality though is the days of SEO and social media being separate are over. Social media is an integral element of a successful SEO campaign in the current recruiting landscape. So if you have a good SEO, they should also be familiar with the Social media landscape. In my opinion, an expert has to do more than just talk about these topics.

twitter.com/aeklund

Paul - These are like the early days of web design when everyone and their brother's mother could design you a "web page." Getting up on Twitter or Facebook is not a social media strategy. Becoming the Mayor of your local coffeeshop on 4sq doesn't make you capable of driving business for that coffeeshop. Getting up in front a crowd and telling people all about the social web because you know how to use it personally but have no clients certainly doesn't make you a social media guru.

Your post is really all about people getting duped. And thank you for that.

Mitchell Hislop

Paul,
This is the post that I wanted to write. I am having many of the same feelings.
With some people, I just think they dont know better yet, and I do not want to look down on someone for wanting to learn. (which is where http://www.mitchellhislop.com/my-social-media-creed/ came from)

However, those that just annoint themselves really piss me off.

I have been asked to speak, been interviewed, and there is even a magazine article with me on the cover with the title "social media expert". I fought tooth and nail to not have it called that. I shy away from the term as much as possiable. Why?

Because there is no way to tell. There is no "expert" status. There are people doing cool things. There are people talking companies into paying them to sign up for twitter.

In both cases, they may call themselves experts.

What do I try and call myself? A thinker. A social media developer. (I am doing a few webapps built on social API's).

But mostly, I call myself Mitchell Hislop. I let my work, thoughts, and actions speak for themselves.

Kate-Madonna Hindes

Thank GOODNESS You're You.
You're not afraid to call it out as it is. You take the mud out of the slingshot and put in TRUTH- that is irreplaceable.

There are no experts in a changing world. What we can become, is experts in ourselves. That makes all the difference.

Thanks, Guy!

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