and you can’t fail until you measure; and you can’t measure until you execute; and you can’t execute until you plan; and you can’t plan until you have a strategy. And when you do fail because you will at some point; it’s a great opportunity to learn, iterate, adapt, change and you might even lose your job. And even then, you are probably not an expert because the market changes, people change and the tools change every single day.
I have to admit that I was slightly irritated when @socialmediagod started to follow me on twitter. His profile is linked to the Google home page and states, “Social Media extraordinaire! I update you on the latest news in social media! The best social media advisor on the web is right here!” No name … no face … no blog … and no idea of the type of work he has done. I have exchanged messages with him in the past and he seemed to be decent; but the fact that he isn’t even disclosing his true identity leads me to believe that he is probably very new to this space since he doesn’t embrace the simple characteristic of transparency.
I would argue that most people who label themselves as social media experts aren’t really social media experts. In my humble opinion, a social media expert isn’t just someone who:
- blogs, twitters, facebooks all day long
- walks into a conference room, advises a company to start a blog, change the culture, integrate across the organization, get the employees to start using twitter; and then makes their way to the bank to cash in
- repeatedly says “social media is all about the conversation” and then quotes chapter after chapter from the Cluetrain Manifesto (And yes, I have done this before)
- talks about “transparency & disclosure” all day long; and then plays Monday morning quarterback by criticizing other companies when they screw up
- has thousands of twitter followers, RSS subscribers and blog comments; or someone who produces funny videos and link bait all day long
- who writes it in their profile(s)
I am sure there are more examples, too many to list. Geoff Livingston wrote a post that examines characteristics that a “good” social media consultant/agency should follow and they are quite awesome. As examples, he links to a few friends of mine, some of who I have worked on direct projects with (Lee Odden and Razorfish – current Intel agency) and others who I know personally and admire for their leadership in this space (Chris Brogan , Rohit Bhargava and Paul Cheney). The problem is that anyone can follow these “25 steps”, write about it in their blogs; twitter it all day long, add it to their list of marketing services and their pitch decks – and then … well a new social media expert blossoms. Until you actually do it, fail or succeed, do it again, learn, share, iterate, etc., you are not an expert. I am sorry. I echo my friend Brian Chappell in this video.
In case anyone is reading this, please don’t misinterpret my point.
I don’t consider myself an expert. I do have a lot of experience in this space and have executed multiple social media campaigns for two of my previous employers (Hewlett Packard and Yahoo! Communities) and now currently with Intel. I still have a lot to learn.
And by no means am I insinuating that “in-house” marketers are experts while consultants/agencies aren’t. In fact, we hired Ignite Social Media for two projects; outreach and social media support for Digital Drag Race and also for the creation of a CES aggregation site. Jim Tobin and his team “get it”. They understand the value of “conversations” – yes, I said it – but they also know how to execute and use social media to drive and influence web traffic. Rohit and the Ogilvy team continue to do awesome work for Intel as well.
I personally know a true social media expert and he works for Intel. His name is Bob Duffy. No, he doesn’t blog very often, use twitter that much or speak at every conference under the sun; but he does understand the tools, he can execute programs, he is VERY strategic, understands how to integrate various elements of social media; and more importantly, he can map social media back to the overall marketing goals and objectives set forth by Intel executive management.
He was influential in launching the Intel “Open Port” community and was also a part of the team that created the social media guidelines and training. He is a man that I often seek advice from.
And quite honestly, I am really getting sick of the term “social media”. Today, I tried counting how many times I heard or read it in one day. I stopped at 29 and it was only 9 am. I even tweeted this for the heck of it … just in case anyone was counting.
If you liked this post or disagree with my point of view about this matter, please follow me on Twitter and let’s hash it out.