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Being an Expert Stinks
Posted on December 14th 2012
I don't understand why there are so many people out there with Twitter bios calling themselves social media gurus, experts or superstars. Being an old school girl, I believe that you take 10 years to hone a craft. While blogging has a slightly longer history (1990s), Friendster was launched in 1999, MySpace in 2003, Facebook in 2004, Twitter in 2006, Instagram in 2010 and Pinterest in 2010, how can anyone claim to be an expert in the field of social media? Furthermore, according to Blogging.org, there are 500,000 blog posts created on a daily basis and it seems like every other month introduces a new social media policy or government law regarding web 2.0. Is being an expert within social media a legitimate claim?
5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Call Yourself An Expert
Your Peers Will Hate You
Many social media practitioners out there, hate these arrogant terms, which means, you're making enemies with your community. Some practitioners such as Miss Coca will even term you a fraud as she did in 10 Ways To Spot A Social Media Fraud.
You Can't Know Everything
Nobody I know who works professionally in social media will claim to know everything. We are simply good at finding out information using digital skills or among our circle/team when faced with a challenging question about the tools of our trade.
I might be reasonably well-versed in specific areas of communications and increasingly so in new media law but whenever I face a technical topic, I tweet/buzz my community of social media practitioners for a quick answer or a fact check. Keeping a group of knowledgeable friends has much higher benefits than attempting to know it all.
It Makes You Complacent
When you think of yourself as an expert, you are likely to become complacent. However, when you are unsure of your knowledge, you are more motivated to read widely and reference credible sources, which makes your tweets, blog posts and FaceBook updates more richer reads.
On average, I read 500-1000 blog posts a month in order to feel secure about my social media knowledge. How much do you read?
Your Tips Become Irrelevant to the Masses
When you write for major social media or blogging sites, many of the readers do not work in social media as professionals, they are simply keen to learn about the basics of social media. If you think like an expert, over time, your articles become increasingly specialised and unless you are constantly able to attain freshly released news or statistics, your articles have increasingly diminished values for the mass audience. Of course you may choose to focus on a niche audience of practitioners but that might hamper your reach.
My technically awesome boss, Syed Balkhi, for example, started recommending plugins on WPBeginner in July 2009 only to realise 9 months later that many of his readers have no idea how to install a WordPress plugin, which he rectified in Step by Step Guide to Install a WordPress Plugin for Beginners.
Sometimes being too detached from your audience can hurt your business. Get down from your self constructed pedestal and engage on ground level.
It Puts Your Credibility on the Line
When you write as an expert, you are inclined to make bold claims. While opinionated controversies can help to accelerate your social media profile, a mistake can also ruin your credibility. In this fast changing field of social media, I am wary of practitioners who make arrogant statements about how to succeed in this field, because once your statement's published, there's no taking it back.
It's easy to claim expert status in the new world of social media, but that doesn't buy you much credibility. Why not focus on good content instead and wait for someone else to praise you and share that compliment with the world via a blog post or retweet instead?
Let's look at Erica Ayotte, who labels herself a social media strategist, a very respectable title within the field of marketing, public relations and social media. Instead of pompous claims, she focuses on generating results and engagement through humble sounding tweets, which makes her a very likeable person to follow. When Paula O'Connell wrote Social Media Gurus: Friends or Foes? Erica attains an expert status via the article compliment.
Often, true experts do not feel the need to label themselves with phoney titles and focus on their achievements instead. Labelling oneself an expert prematurely often brings about a backlash effect, suggesting the need to oversell due to the lack of quality.
Maybe I am too much of a greenhorn to understand the concept of being an expert. All I have is hard work, consistent research, honesty, my community of knowledgeable friends, valuable comments from my readers and a set of social media tools. Do my blog posts receive less shares as compared to the self-proclaimed experts? Do my non-expert articles contain less valuable? Do you think less of my works? Please let me know through your comments =)