Is Social Media Expertise a Real Thing?

Okay, so I have this shiny new blog. And I’ve been a regular contributor to another blog — one that generates business for my employer — for years. Because of that, I know a thing or two about SEO. I have a Twitter account. And LinkedIn, of course. I was on Facebook since back when it was a young, upstart social network trying to compete with MySpace. I even dabbled for a while on Google Plus. Does all that make me a social media expert? Um…I suppose, maybe, but I’d never describe myself as such.

Put another way: I know how to change a tire on a car. I’ve known how to change tires for close to 30 years, and I’ve done so on multiple occasions on different vehicles under all sorts of conditions. There’s a good chance you can make similar claims. Would you be able to promote yourself as a “Tire Changing Expert” with a straight face? If you could, there’s a good chance you have one of the 21 social media job titles described in this hilarious, yet depressingly true piece.

In fairness to the social media gurus, activationists, and evangelists out there, the recent trend of laughable job titles is a pox on society that goes way beyond the online world. Or so my Life Coach tells me.

And can I just go off on a tangent to say that describing anybody who is even vaguely skillful or accomplished in something as a “rock star” is getting pretty hackneyed. The facts that (1) I write a marketing blog and (2) you’re reading it are proof that neither you nor I will ever be rock stars, so just stop it. (Although I do sometimes feel I missed my true calling as a Spinal Tap drummer).

If you’re a social media expert, this is not you.

But seriously, perhaps I’m off-base, but my tire changing analogy is sort of how I view most self-proclaimed social media experts. Social media is incredibly useful. It’s made a tremendous impact on marketing in only about a decade’s time. But ultimately, social media is really a collection of user-friendly tools that don’t take much time to learn, nor much coaching to apply to marketing or incorporate into strategy — assuming, of course, one has an aptitude for marketing or strategy development in the first place.

I’ve been working in market research for a decade and a half, and by the time I retire from it there will still be so much to the discipline that I won’t have learned. Advertising, PR and any other number of other marketing fields have similar depth and breadth. But social media? It feels much, much more limited in scope. It’s like learning Microsoft Word — indispensable in today’s world, but ultimately you need a lot more than that to hang your consulting hat on. But don’t just take my word for it. In a recent Forbes piece called “20 Things 20-Year-Olds Don’t Get,” entrepreneur Jason Nazar wrote:

Social Media is Not a Career – These job titles won’t exist in 5 years. Social media is simply a function of marketing; it helps support branding, ROI or both.  Social media is a means to get more awareness, more users or more revenue.  It’s not an end in itself.

So, yeah. That.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and prepare myself for a counter-attack from the social media experts. It’s sure to be devastating, seeing as how they have ninjas and wizards among their ranks.


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