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How to Spot A Social Media Expert


Some of you might get bent out of shape because I dare to suggest that a social media expert exists.

I understand that there is a healthy society of humble naysayers who scoff at social media expertise. So I will warn you in advance, this post will piss you off.

However I believe that there is such an animal as a social media expert.  In fact, we’ve hired our fair share at Fluency Media.  Look around and you’ll see that Job boards are packed with openings and almost every company is trying to either train or recruit an expert of their own.

Unless we’re all deluded, there are people out there that have the right mix of talent, drive, work ethic, and experience to lead social programs.

The hard part is spotting them.

After countless interviews, discussions, good-hires, and false-starts, I believe I can give you a few pointers:

Marketing Acumen:

A social media expert understands the relationship between advertising, marketing, and sales.  They are well grounded in the science of selecting targeting audiences and the art of winning hearts and minds. This doesn’t mean that your social media expert needs to come from the marketing department.  They just need a healthy respect for the role social media plays in the marketing process.


Anyone can tweet all day and call it a job.  However, the real social media expert realizes that their activities has to contribute to the company in a tangible way.  They have to “move the needle” and show how their activities are turning strangers into brand evangelists. Beware of people who stress conversations over profit and “likes” over accountability.  These folks will leave your business popular and bankrupt.

Social Scientist:

Social media is 80% psychology and 20% marketing.  The best social media experts are students of human nature. They are fascinated by group psychology and love “people watching”.  Social Media pros want to understand why certain people are influential and what makes them tick.  They also can’t resist engineering the perfect viral storm.

Content Marketing Savant:

A robust social media plan requires a constant infusion of smart, relevant, and entertaining content.  A social media maestro knows how to create and repurpose content like a managing editor at a tabloid magazine.  They aren’t afraid to publish and get nervous when they are not shipping.

Intensely Curious:

Social Media is a moving target. What you know today is old news tomorrow.  A capable social media expert stays tapped into the latest developments across all digital marketing channels including social media.  I’m not referring to passive reading. Instead, look for people who actively research and dig for new insights.


A Social Media program works best when every stakeholder contributes content, ideas, and support.  Effective Social Media managers aren’t afraid to persuade, beg, poke, and push for cooperation from every corner of the organization.  They know how to create relationships that result in a steady supply of fresh info to power content across multiple platforms.

What I Didn’t Mention

Tool Expertise:

The actual tools of the social media trade aren’t difficult to master. It takes about 1 week to be a proficient tweeter.  The same goes for navigating and manipulating Facebook, LinkedIn or upload a blog post.  Tools don’t make the social media expert, the social media expert uses tools to achieve their goals.

Introvert vs. Extrovert:

You don’t necessarily need to be a social butterfly in the RW (real world) to crush it online.  It helps but its not required.  I’ve watched intense introverts build communities, woo customers, and recruit brand evangelists.

A Personal Blog:

Although I would love for every social media professional to run a blog this isn’t a prerequisite.  Many experts are busy running their corporate blog and don’t have gas in the tank for their own gig. Instead, I look for results they were able to achieve for their company or clients.

Do you have any other criteria that you look for before you select an expert?

Join The Conversation

  • May 30 Posted 6 years ago Celeste Winders (not verified)

    Some interesting points but I would disagree that it is 80% psychology but rather 80% Sociology which studies group human behavior patterns. By understanding and being able to predict to a certain degree (there is always a margin of error as well as changes in group patterns) how the targeted group will react/respond you need to use sociological theory and technique rather than psychological.  Totally different area of study.  However I also think that experts happen to be people who talk a lot and do very little in the world of social media.  Those who are doing are not saying.   Just sayin'  ;-)

  • May 29 Posted 6 years ago Aaron Eden (not verified)

    With a lot of self-proclaimed social media guru's and experts nowadays, it is important to know all the tips and hints to spot the real experts in the field of Social media. Thanks for posting Stanford!

  • May 29 Posted 6 years ago Anita Wheeler (not verified)

    Well put Stanford.  I often take a look at the "social expert's" presence online.  Sometimes it is quite surprising. How can you be a Facebook expert and have a following of 42?

    We are still early in the game with Social Media and lots to learn.  Again, excellent article!


    Anita G. Wheeler

  • May 27 Posted 6 years ago Phil Lauterjung (not verified)

    Excellent post Stanford, it really made me think through the whole idea of a social media expert. I will admit I don't like the term, however I also understand the need to call people who fit your profile "something". Your profile did a very good job of outlining the elements which go into the making of a person who is adept in social media.

    I would humbly suggest adding one other element, and that would be a keen understanding of how social media can serve the overall company strategy. I have seen too many self-described "gurus" and "experts" treat social media as the be-all and end-all. You definitely had the strategic element implied, but I would have given it a little more overt emphasis...but of course it was your article, not mine. ;-) 

    Thanks for addressing the issue in a rational and reasoned way.

  • May 27 Posted 6 years ago Connie Sweet (not verified)

    Brilliant Stanford, I have passed the link along. (http://www.facebook.com/connectiongraphics) So many business owners want to get expert social media advice, throw money at the wall hoping for something to stick and they often end up feeling duped. These representatives give the impression we are all a bunch of charletons looking for our next victim and credibility is lost. This is a great guide for those who are "social media experts" and those wanna bes who can brush up on the areas they are lacking in. Thank you, this is much needed information, stay connected.

  • May 27 Posted 6 years ago Trevor (not verified)

    "Tools don’t make the social media expert", shame how pieces knowledge can be dangerous and when some folk master the tool, their belief is they have mastered social media!

  • @rupertbu's picture
    May 27 Posted 6 years ago @rupertbu

    Amongst "tools" I would say RSS is vital.

    Still so many sites coming onstream who fail to incorporate RSS feeds for subscription to, thus removing an easy route for third party distribution, which is one of the names of the game, isn't it?

  • May 27 Posted 6 years ago Karen Tanboor (not verified)

    I have to admit that you have changed my mind a bit. "Expert" is a hard word to swallow with a medium as new as Social Media. Expert is a big word implying years of experience. After 27 years in the graphic design industry working for advertising agencies and marketing companies there is always something new to learn. The point of being intense curious might be the most important part as long as curious can convert to implementation.

  • NealSchaffer's picture
    May 26 Posted 6 years ago NealSchaffer

    Brilliantly stated Stanford!

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