Social Media Experts. Do They Really Exist?
As I see it…
There seems to be some controversy brewing regarding whether one can actually be an expert in a field such as social media. After all, the field is evolving so rapidly that no one could possibly know everything about it. Since when has this been a requirement for being considered an expert in any field? Who in his right mind would claim to know everything about anything?
The only constant is change–the only difference from one field to another being the rate of change. If this were not true in every field there would not be a need for newsletters, journals, blogs, seminars and professional meetings, all of which seem to have proliferated exponentially in recent years.
In the late 1960’s, before the age of personal computers, there was great debate over the future of communications. Marshall McLuhan was pontificating that the medium was the message and that AT&T didn’t understand the telephone. While he was sometimes overly bombastic, he did predict an internet-like system decades before its creation and coined the term “global village.” He understood that a medium of communication has a life of its own that impacts society fully as much as does the content it carries. Nowhere has this been more true than in the burgeoning field of social media.
That said, then, what would constitute a social media “expert?” A dictionary definition of an expert is “a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field.” As usual, the dictionary definition, while accurate, is not particularly helpful. I would propose an operational definition–a social media expert is a person who has the skills and knowledge to help a potential user with the selection and application of appropriate applications and strategies to achieve the results desired by the user.
Many, if not most small businesses have web sites, but many who do not utilize social media to brand, market and track business would like to. They are in need of social media expertise. Few have the time to invest in learning it all through extensive research and trial and error. Fortunately there are media professionals (yes, “experts”) to help with the process. They may be specialists within full-service media firms or independent consultants, but they’re out there.
If you are thinking about taking the plunge, run a browser search for social media consultants in your area. Also, ask around at business and social events–personal recommendations are valuable in this area as they are in selecting any professional service. Find someone with whom you feel comfortable. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t feel pressured. If the fit doesn’t feel right, keep looking. You’re not buying a car–it’s more like a courtship. Just don’t be left standing on the dock when the ship has sailed.