Five minutes looking at marketing information on the internet or attending any tech conference will tell you that the latest craze in "instant gurus" is to title yourself a "social media expert." Anyone can do it. Just start using the term and vaguely talking about social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Maybe throw in some phrases like "leveraging your marketability" and "strategizing your networks" and... BAM! Instant Social Media Expert!
Then add the title to your business cards, get a bot or two to upsize your Twitter account with followers by the thousands (who cares if they're other bots?), and you're on the way to the top, baby! The bigger your numbers, the bigger your cred. One tech writer, on a blog called Pulse2, who has lost credibility with me, recently published a list of 100 Social Media Experts to follow on Twitter and even calls MC Hammer an expert? Even my account almost has sent as many tweets as him. If even those who are supposed to know about tech make outrageous claims like "follow these people -- they are social media experts," what are the rest of us to think?
That's the gist of how most social media experts build themselves. A few days or a couple of weeks of serious work and you can have everything the facade of a social media expert requires.
"That doesn't mean there aren't real social media folks to hire, of course," says Fort Lauderdale-based Murray Izenwasser. "Just don't take someone's business card or word as proof of their status. There is some great social media talent right here in Florida. Genuine ones, not fakers."
I'm not a social media expert and will never tell you that I am. I have a nice social network, I guess, but you won't hear me telling you how I'm leveraging my marketability or strategizing my networks. Mostly because I'm not even sure what those terms are supposed to mean, let alone how to do it. Is strategizing even a word?
I have met a few good people I would say are experts in social media, though. Gary Vaynerchuk, for instance, is an internet celebrity who hosts the online video blog "Wine Library TV." He is constantly tweeting. He's built the show, his ability to captivate audiences on social networks, and his very... uhh... robust personality into a huge phenomenon. Yours truly was a guest on one of Gary's episodes, actually. Talking about pizza, of course. Gary, however, wasn't social enough to respond to our email seeking a quote. @garyvee
Have you heard of Carina K? The singer, who has a new single she's releasing this month, is a social media expert and probably doesn't even know it. She has a huge online fan base, is almost always tweeting and posting to Facebook, and is very active with her fans.
"Well, I don't think I am an expert at social media," says Carina K. "But I do feel a responsibility to answer every post or question that people ask me, and people seem to respect that. Again and again, people say 'Wow, I never expected you to answer me back, none of the other singers/celebrities do.' When someone takes the time to ask me a question or make a comment to me, I feel it's the least I can do to give them a thoughtful answer back. Though, at times, there's no easy way to do it, because I have days where there are a thousand or more messages, I still reply from my computer, from my phone, at home, in the car when someone else is driving, watching TV, in between bites at dinner... @carinak
You may not have heard of Dean Perrone, but I bet one of your neighbors has. Not that I always agree with his methods, but living in Orlando, Dean is a marketing madman. His Twitter account isn't the biggest one on the planet, and his tweets aren't a constant stream. But you know what? He knows how to leverage and strategize. In real life, not just the faux world of the gurus.
Says Dean: "I think someone who is qualified to help in social media is someone who has it all. They have a presence on all the social sites." He adds: "Having a bunch of followers doesn't make someone an expert." @DeanPerrone
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Over in Tallahassee, there's a guy named Jesse Newhart. No doubt, you are a fan of his multimedia artistry. If you aren't, you will be soon enough. Talent plus the ability to interact well with people online makes you... yep, you guessed it: a social media expert. No bots, no pretending, no bulldookey business cards. @JesseNewHart
There are more experts than you think. Evan Sneider, who does public relations for a Miami-based website, told me, "Usually, if someone says they're an 'expert' at anything, they aren't. Most 'experts' have no idea that they're exceptionally good at whatever it is they're doing."
Of all people, shouldn't real social media "experts" know the benefit of getting their names mentioned in an article? You can decide for yourself who is and who isn't.
Feel free to tell me I'm an expert at something. Hurry -- the printer has my new biz cards on the press waiting for my update!