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So You're A Social Media Expert?

With the dawn of any new technology, there comes the inevitable after-birth of the expert. Those early adapters who have jumped on the bandwagon of a new way of doing business before the masses have a chance to really figure out what the heck the new thing is or how it works. With the evolution of web 2.0 marketing came the next logical thing: the social media expert. 

I'm not denying the existence of a real social media expert. There are some great minds in the realm of Web 2.0 that really know their stuff. They aren't just the Chris Brogans or Guy Kawasakis of the world. Individuals whose names you may have not even heard of that could be great strategists and know how to get the most out of digital marketing. These are people that know digital marketing involves more than just opening a Facebook Fan Page or Twitter account and putting a brand name on it. 

Are you one of these experts? If so, you really wouldn't have to tell me would you?

If you were really one of the social media "chosen few" your results would speak for themselves. I would have ran across one of your blogs by now. You wouldn't have a 9 follower to 10,000 following ratio. Your Twitter feed would be more than just links to your own stuff with the same repetitive content. Your conversation would include more than just throwing out words like Twitter and Facebook so much that they eventually lose their meaning. 

Really an expert? The automatic DMs tell me otherwise. The spam messages that clutter my inbox offering consulting services  also tell me a different story. Your answers on LinkedIn seem to contradict. The contribution you offer to the person asking a question on LinkedIn's platform about social media marketing isn't genuine. It's merely a way to pitch your brand. No relationship built. Just a quick way to a sales pitch and a link to your website. How has that helped the person asking the question at all? If you were really an expert, you would know that the direct sales pitch is one of the biggest "don'ts" in the unwritten social media code of conduct. 

There is a great need for great marketing minds. With companies struggling making sales projections in a struggling economy, that need is almost greater now than before. Social media minds aren't always great marketing minds. Will the social media expert just set up an account for you and run for $300/hour? Or are they going to contribute to your overall marketing efforts? If someone can't handle their own personal brand effectively, how is someone going to trust their brand in their hands. 

But you have your own website too? That's great! So does my 70 year old grandfather

As social media loses it's sleekness and becomes more practical, the public will become more savvy themselves on who is legit and who isn't. The smoke screens will eventually be lifted and the BS will be read through. 

So are you a social media expert? Or are you just trying to make an easy buck?

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  • Feb 13 Posted 6 years ago RLCOMM I Social... (not verified)

    Yes; there are many whose claiming that their and expert or guru.

    Best thing to do is to follow this person if he or she is really an

    expert. The achievement of a person can tell who really he/she is.

    Thank you for your article.


  • Gregory Stringer's picture
    Apr 30 Posted 7 years ago GregoryStringer @Jason, @Leonard: Well stated, good thoughts. Jason, I especially liked the paradigm of each particpant being both student and teacher. Leonard, you've bluntly dissected to the two most important parameters. Excellent efforts, gentlemen.
  • Apr 30 Posted 7 years ago LeonardWilliams Drew, nice article. In my book there are two core metrics (or things to be measured) in social media. The first is "Influence". What influence will look like will change depending on what social media platform (or channel) it's being applied to.

    In the case of Facebook - Influence is the number of friends one has.
    Twitter - Followers
    LinkedIn - Contacts

    and so...

    The second core metric is Engagement.

    Engagement asks the question: How effective are you at engaging those friends, followers and contacts in a socially acceptable way on your product, service or idea.

    Big clue here! Effective Engagement does not include direct selling. One does not sell, in social media marketing. One makes friends, followers and contacts (who come to know, like and trust you) who you then sell to.

    Leonard Williams
  • Apr 30 Posted 7 years ago earthling09 (not verified)

    Everyone wants to be important. Collective decision making works better than self interest. So working with others in our Internet activities is a good tactic. Some will be high quality interactions, some not so high quality.

    Profitability is an inherent attribute of sustainability. People need to earn a living, some of us want to use the Internet as a commercial platform.

    Let's work on getting the deception and fraud out the online marketplace, not people trying to sell their knowledge, talents and abilities.

  • JasonBaer's picture
    Apr 30 Posted 7 years ago JasonBaer Some people know more about social media than others. Does that make them an "expert"? I don't know. But what I do know is that everyone in social media is a teacher, and everyone is a student. The second you forget that - regardless of your "expertise" - you're dead. 
  • Apr 29 Posted 7 years ago Simon_Hamer (not verified) Thanks it made me smile. I blog rarely, it is just not my thing but ....I posted a blog called Social Media Suicide, I could not even find the experts on this site with so called social media experts, no pictures, no links, just hype.

    If I was asked I would class myself as a Social media addict. I just try and give service and have fun whilst I do it. Adore this media.

    Keep up the good work, keep our ego's trimmed .... LoL

    As ever, smiling

  • Gregory Stringer's picture
    Apr 29 Posted 7 years ago GregoryStringer

    In a word, out-freakin-standing!!!! What I wonder about is when I read "35 years experience", when Web 2.0 itself is only ten years old. Here's the kicker; read an ad willing to sell followers on Twitter. This is a bleeding edged post. Very well stated, sir. Looking forward to more. Thanks to you and SocialMediaToday.

    I would add that versus being an expert, I actually consider myself a student of the discipline, if there even is such an animal at this point. Working on AAS in Web design, BS in e-Business. Maybe I'll be an expert when I grow up... ;-)

  • DannySkarka's picture
    Apr 29 Posted 7 years ago DannySkarka Yikes. I teach social media as a professional tool. Wow, do I sound cool or what! Half the people I know can sing SEO until my head explodes, the other half want me to explain "Tweeter" to them. 

    That means I am a social media half the people I know. I hope this is not how the medical profession behaves. 

  • SueReddel's picture
    Apr 29 Posted 7 years ago SueReddel Drew, great post, you certainly hit on a volatile subject. I couldn't agree with you more. Like some of the other folks who have commented, I too have people ask me for help on social media. I often lend some friendly advice on how to set up accounts and get started. I am mortified at the number of "experts" and "consultants" who charge people money for these services and then leave their "clients" high and dry with no strategy on how to actually use social media for their business. The more these people are exposed for what they are the better.  Let's hope their days of fleecing the innocent are numbered.
  • DrewHawkins's picture
    Apr 26 Posted 7 years ago DrewHawkins Thanks everyone for the extremely generous comments. You all are super kind!

    Karima: I think you are on to something. There isn't a one-size-fits-all role for social media. You are right that there will be different roles for the different areas of managing social media. 

    Johan: More strongly than Chris? That's one of the highest compliments I've ever been paid. Thanks. 

    The post was more of a rant in nature. However I was challenged by one individual via Facebook to provide more "how to" do something than "how not to do." I think he was onto something so it's an avenue that I look to write more about in the future. I can point out what's wrong with social media, but I'm really doing nobody a favor in the long term if I don't also address good ways to leverage the new media opportunities. 

    Thanks again for all your comments! I appreciate every single one!

  • Apr 26 Posted 7 years ago PatrickCurl1 Great Post Drew, reminds me of one Chris Brogan wrote, w/ the jist of it saying that the wannabe's are the ones always saying 'look at me! look at me!' the TRUE social media greats are the ones that lift others up in the industry, share real stories, real testimonials, real statistics, and aren't always shining the light on themselves.  Sure twitter and facebook does have a bit of a 'look at me' slant..

     But really - I think of social media as new technology meets "How to win friends and influence people' by Dale Carnegie. Probably the best book I've ever read, and more true today than ever, I'd even say it is truly the first book on social media, or at least sets up some of the building blocks. Namely: don't focus on yourself, focus on your audience.

  • Apr 26 Posted 7 years ago karimagoundiam

    Hello Drew,

    Really good wake-up call kind of article. the issue is the ones that should read it, are not going to read it.

    The issue with social media, as a practice, because it is so new, it bring many types of people, expertise, skills, and needs. the ones hiring the consultants, barely can grasp what social media is, so how could they judge what is a good social media strategist?

    As time goes by, I expect a natural or forced correction occuring. A bit like when at the beginning of the dot.coms, everyone had a start-up. a fews years later, the bubble burst and only the ones who had experience, knowledge and skills stayed.

    The profession might also need to auto-organize it self to allow job categories. Not everyone is a strategist, some of us are more operational, other will be community managers, and others will be monitoring.

    what do you think?

  • Apr 26 Posted 7 years ago ScottEmpringham


    Great article.  First, let me state, I've cornerd the market on absolutly no guru-hood.  That being said, we've had phenomenal initial success on behalf of our clients with our social media efforts lately. And the key for us and our clients has been to create a unique and compelling opportunity for people to engage in a deep and meaningful way with our client brands. So, whether it's their love of California ,
    or desire to contribute to their community , or just a plain old itch to roadtrip to Vegas...while getting a chance to drift Mustangs and race F150's, we've found success in the simple idea of creating unique content, relevant to the group who we intend to attract and engage, always hold our client's brand in high esteem and creatively and thoughtfully integrate interesting and useful product knowledge. It's hard work...but if you check out the pages, you'll also see how it can be done.  Monetization is now our greatest push.  Quantifying the results of the fans, friends, subscribers, etc. can be tough.  Instead we're looking now to more interesting metrics like CTR's to client websites, lead conversion and working with manufacturers on sales matches.  Still very new.  And tons to learn. And while I suppose I'm considered by some an expert...truth is I'm struggling to learn and understand more every day.

    Thanks for calling it like it is.

    For more information on "The Best of California" check out:
    For more information on "We Love our Southwest Community" check out:
    For more information on "Desert Adventure" check out:

  • AmithaAmarasinghe's picture
    Apr 26 Posted 7 years ago AmithaAmarasinghe

    Hi Drew!


    When I first saw your title, I was saying to myself “oh not again! Rohit Bhargva wrote about this, Chris Brogan wrote about this, and I’ve read this “point” more than several times now”


    But interestingly, you have managed to “debunk” the “expert myth” more strongly than Rohit or Chris!


    Few more thoughts to add…. If we take a serious look at some of those “big names” in the list of “experts”, you might be surprised, they haven’t also delivered any  â€œtangible business result” (may be apart from writing a book or two) as such. They cleverly justify their inability with a claim “social media is hard to measure, so you have to change your mindset not to expect direct ROI”. In a way, they are making an emperor’s cloak out of social media.


    I agree with someone’s comment (here or on FB link) that, you can’t measure the expertise with Twitter follower ratio. People might blindly follow someone, just because he/she is a “hot brand” in the trade!




  • JoshCanHelp's picture
    Apr 26 Posted 7 years ago JoshCunningham Great post, Drew!

    @Jeannine: The "ninja" term is painful at this point. Could also do without "rockstar" indefinitely. 

  • Apr 26 Posted 7 years ago JeannineCrooks If I hear one more person claim to be a social media "ninja" or "guru", I'll scream!  You are exactly right about this.  My favorite experts are the ones who are so modest that they refuse to call themselves an "expert," but just say that they know something about the topic.
  • Apr 26 Posted 7 years ago KevinChamberlin

    Drew great post and well done, especially after what I ran into this weekend. Chris you are also so right on it. I have been in the business for 7 years and still do not think of myself as an expert. I enjoy talking and learning from others in the field but love it when they talk about and promote only a small portion of the opportunities out there and charge twice as much, and get it. I feel for those customers sucked in because they do not know and that is why they looked for such help. Drew will be looking for more of your post and Chris yours as well.

  • Apr 26 Posted 7 years ago chrishall2 Exactly my thoughts. I also wrote my own blog post on this very subject last week.

    Social Media has become a network of communities where many SM experts just spend time talking to each other. Let's improve them all by being focussed on what we can do for others and not back-slapping our own community.

    In essence we need to ensure as an industry, which includes many bright and intelligent people, we need to stop look internally and begin to look externally at the whole world of business out there; many of who need our help and advice.

  • Apr 26 Posted 7 years ago earthling09 (not verified)

    I'm interested in using social media to help bring the human race together. The United Nations is not perfect, but it is the greatest civilization that has ever existed on earth. Unite all the people of every nation, race and religion into one global federation of nations, one universal common wealth.

    That does not mean that I'm not interested in using social media for commercial purposes, just that I think the Internet and cell phone services, etc., are one of the most significant cultural phenomena in history.

  • Apr 25 Posted 7 years ago ClemensRettich I love this. The clue for me that snake oil is being sold is when I hear anything that connects social media with a promise of bigger audiences, better conversion, higher sales, and a better sex life. Yup, and a time share in swamp land too.

    It's called social media, not sales media.

    I look forward to the day we all stop being mesmerized by the 'friend odometer' that is as useless as the old hit counters in web 1.0 times. A 'friend' or follower online will buy from you for pretty much the same reason as a friend in your real life. The media are different but the rules that create great relationships haven't changed.

    I'm looking forward to more from you Drew!


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