Susan Hires a Boss

Just what is a social media expert?

The potshots flew this week as The NY Times named its first social media editor. Who got on Twitter and asked people just how the Times should be using Twitter.

Not an auspicious beginning.

But still, a beginning. We all started somewhere with social media tools. And from the looks of things, we’ve all arrived already. Because everyone signing up for Twitter these days seems to be a “social media expert”.

There have been cases made that calling yourself a social media expert is akin to saying you’re an expert faxer. And that taking a title as social media manager at a company is like being the telephone person. Social media is a tool, not the whole shebang. Without the strategic chops to back it up, you’re just a user, not an expert. And a definite backlash is arising against the posers who don’t get the overall strategic picture in which social media plays one part.

The way I see it, social media is a tool, but one that does require a certain amount of finesse and skill to deliver results. I can kick your butt from here to Sunday in using Word, but that doesn’t make me a better writer. And you might be able to do just about anything with a phone better than me (don’t ask!) but that doesn’t make you more pleasant in a sales call.

Being a social media “expert” is more than knowing all the technical aspects – like the difference between pages and groups at Facebook or what a hashtag is on Twitter or how to game lots of followers and fans. The expert part involves making the right kinds of connections and starting the right kinds of conversations and responding with the right kinds of answers.

If that sounds familiar, it should. It’s exactly what we communications people have been doing for decades. We just did it via letter, then telegraph, then phone, then typewriter, then computer, then email, then … social media.


posted on May 27, 2009 under


Clay said...

Good post, Susan. It seems like 80% of twitter-spam comes from self-proclaimed social media experts with.

Being good with a scalpel doesn't make you a brain surgeon, folks.

lewister said...

Yep. There's a big jump from being able to use the tool to being an expert in strategic application.