Are You a Social Media Expert?

I have to admit that seeing someone call themselves a “social media expert” is one of my biggest pet peeves. Finding the words rock star or guru in a profile gives me the shakes. Realizing that most of the people using these labels definitely don’t deserve them causes me to break out in hives. A child of fourteen is not a social media expert. A recent graduate who happened to take a course or three pertaining to social networking is not an expert. Someone who talks a lot on Twitter is not an expert. Simply knowing how to use the tools doesn’t mean a damn thing, y’all.

Becoming an expert at anything takes years of practice. You’ll make hundreds of mistakes and learn through trial and error. Simply mastering hashtags or knowing how to tag people on Facebook isn’t enough. I was greatly amused the other day to see the profile of a woman claiming to be one of these new-fangled social media gurus. She offers to give talks to help others learn her secrets. Said young lady has a grand total of forty-three followers. I’m not sure who – exactly – she’s even pitching her talks to. Every one of her followers is someone with less than 100 users keeping an eye on them, as well.

I noticed that a teenaged boy on Twitter recently changed his profile to claim he’s the premiere social media expert for teens. I couldn’t help but ask him what gave him the idea that he was “the one” other kids should go to. He replied that he has the most followers out of all of his friends – 61, to be exact. Thus, he has deemed himself an expert.

A true expert is one who would never dream of calling themselves that. They don’t care about titles – they care about the people whose lives they are changing. It doesn’t matter which platform is being used, nor what type of service, product or organization they are working with. The real movers and shakers are touching people’s lives day in and day out, sharing information and ideas, sparking imagination and passion and driving engagement beyond the boundaries we thought existed. They are connecting others and giving them the tools to go out and create change of their own.

Do yourself a favor: stop giving others a reason to dismiss you before they bother to read anything you’ve said. You may just have amazing ideas, but no one is going to listen when you come off sounding like a know-it-all. Calling yourself an expert without something to back it up is often nothing more than an ego trip and a pathetic attempt at getting people to think you’re important.

The problem is that it is backfiring in a very big way.

11 thoughts on “Are You a Social Media Expert?”

  1. Well said. I was suckered into the whole “make thousands a day by becoming a social media expert” gig a while back last year. One person made a good point that you become an “expert” to others around you if you know more than they do about a subject. (like if you know how to repair a PC and they don’t, they trust you as the “expert” in the situation) The problem is that all the “gurus” teach the same thing, that you can help others become rich by teaching them to be their own social media “experts,” and people will pay them to learn how to promote stuff online. I have one Twitter account that I created for the purpose of promoting a business, and it got flooded with followers who all had the same thing in common. They all wanted to teach me how to use social networking to make money, but I failed to ever find any proof that they were making any themselves. Basically you have a bunch of idiots running around out there who have no experience, but claim to have enough knowledge to teach others.

    I wholeheartedly believe in promoting a business or service through social media. It’s definitely the future of advertising. I just have a problem when every 2-bit Jack and Sally “social media guru” is trying to sell the lie that they are any better at using social media to make money than the rest of us. Build up slowly, silently become knowledgeable and accomplished with social media, then come out and offer people advice. When they see proof that you really are an expert, your success will steadily build. There’s nothing I hate worse than getting a message about being an expert from a follower who doesn’t even have a profile pick or original background.

    Good post Chris. Sorry to write my own little novel there, I just feel strongly about the topic.

  2. Now that I seem to have the hang of posting Disqus comments – your article hit the nail on the head. In addition to people calling themselves experts, and in things where expertese doesn’t really matter – I also find these competitions about most friends/followers to be a bunch of ego-swelling stupidity.

  3. How can anyone claim to be an expert let alone Guru (yuk) in an industry that is still in nappies!???? It is all an experiment and still many years till it is all really defined. IMHO!!!!

  4. Love this!  So funny, but so “spot on” at the same time.  I’m no rock star, expert, guru or ninja….  I’m always learning and will never know all there is to know about social.  Thanks for this great post, Chris!


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