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The Myth of the Social Media Expert

As social media marketing has risen to prominence, it seems like a day doesn’t go by where I don’t come across a blog post or an article telling me how I need to use social media. Everyone thinks he or she is a social media expert. Honestly, I’m pretty sick of it.

Social MediaThe truth is there is no such thing as a social media expert. Are there people who have been successful leveraging social media to build brands? Sure. Are there people who know way more about social media marketing than I do? Of course. Are they “experts” and “gurus”? Most are far from it.

Here’s why:

  • Social media is new and constantly evolving – How can you be an expert in something that changes so frequently? One day Facebook is hot; the next Twitter is the big thing. Sure, there are certain basic principles that apply to all social media marketing, but the landscape is still growing, meaning there’s still a lot to be learned.
  • There is no right way to use social media – The whole point of social networks like Twitter and Facebook is that everyone gets to use the service in the best way they see fit. For some, that might mean posting constant updates about how their day is going, and for others, it means trying to drive traffic by posting blog links. No one way is better than another. Use it as you see fit.
  • What works for one may not work for another – Just because Zappos has been successful allowing all their employees to Tweet doesn’t mean the same tactic will work for you. Every situation is different, and every business has different goals and a different target audience.

With that being said, this doesn’t mean you have to figure everything out for yourself. The truth is there are some helpful guidelines you can use to develop your social media marketing campaign. Here are a few tips to help you find the best way to leverage social media for building your brand.

  • Know where your customers are – Do your customers even use Twitter? Or are they likelier to be on Facebook? Maybe even LinkedIn? Or they could just read blogs and not interact on social networks at all. You need to know where your target audience is. Once you find that out, that’s where you should focus on building a strong presence.
  • Set actual goals – One of the keys to building a successful social media campaign is to have clearly defined goals. What do you want to get out of your social media efforts? Are you looking to drive traffic to your website? Do you want to improve your reputation? Figure out what you want to accomplish, and everything you do from that point forward should lead to reaching this goal.
  • Don’t give up too early – Despite all the successful viral campaigns you’ve seen, the chances of you being an instant internet sensation are slim. True social media success takes time. You won’t reach your goals overnight, so don’t give up when things don’t go your way immediately. You have to be committed if you want to enjoy the benefits of social media marketing.
  • Be willing to experiment – Like I said earlier, what works for one company might not work for another. Social media is constantly changing, and there are always new things to be discovered. Try new things, and don’t be afraid to experiment and do things differently.

Am I the only one that’s tired of being told how I should use social media?

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download your free copy of 7 Cheap PR Tactics for Success in Any Economy here:

16 Responses

  1. thexebolud says:

    RT @ereleases: New blog post: The Myth of the Social Media Expert

  2. Oh Yeah! You had certainly made difference in briefing social media! I appreciate it! People are now concentrating more on social media marketing because it can easily dominate your market at little to no cost! I remember a statement :“Companies have no choice. This is where their customers are going,” reported USA Today on August 27, 2009.

  3. I totally agree with this and am so glad I am not the only one saying it. I blogged about it a few months ago and tell clients the same thing: there are no experts, there are no gurus! ~ Jules

  4. […] The Myth of the Social Media Expert […]

  5. Brian Nash says:

    Having just entered this world of social media marketing, I can tell you that I am totally frustrated and equally sick (as you say you are) of the barrage of so-called expert advice on this topic. It is all so generic that it is nothing short of pablum for the masses. Magazines laud the coming of the social network marketing craze. Hard copy advertising is dead. SEO is the way to go and social networking is the next coming-of-age way to SEO and on and on.
    What is the key? Who knows. Some of your suggestions are equally generic but they have a truer sound that many others – experiment, hang-in there,set goals, etc. Isn’t this advice given in all marketing approaches? Of course, that was a rhetorical question. Are there any real ‘experts’ in the use of these evolving media networks? How does one really find the right person or company to guide you through this process.
    So one writes a pretty good blog and goes viral through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – those 5 – 10 minutes of exposure to whomever – what are they really doing to ‘drive traffic to your website’ or improve your relevance for SEO positioning?
    When and if I EVER find the right person to address these issues, I’ll be much happier.
    As we say in my field of law – many people we see on a witness stand purport to be an ‘expert.’ Determining who the ones are who are worth listening to is a whole different story.

  6. Mickie,

    Right on! As a social media consultant myself, I see new social media “experts” coming out of the woodwork every day! While some are very intelligent, have a deep understanding of social media, and have actual business experience that they can utilize to help their customers, many are just jumping on the bandwagon because there is a perceived need for their services.

    I expect that as the economy picks up, and as social media matures, there will be a “weeding out” process where those social media “experts” who can’t find business will turn to the next new thing. In the meantime, I am sure that a lot of sensible business people will be following the advice that you outline in this article and tune out the noise.


  7. Good advice. It might be worth noting that whilst there are no “right ways” to use social media, there are plenty of wrong ways.

    Scraped content, over-promotion, refusal to interact, being just plain boring – that’s what social media marketers need to avoid.

  8. Peter says:

    Just because you’ve read Seth Godin or ‘The Tipping Point’ it doesn’t mean you’re a social media expert.I think about 90% of social media is hot air. It can be an incredibly powerful communication tool but people really have to be careful of the evangelists and the gurus out there.

  9. SEM Freak says:

    @Peter – Seth just loves to be controversial – he leaves trackbacks but disallows comments, a deliberate mixed message on engagement.

    @Andy – Yep, Social Media is about engagement pure and simple.

    @Neal – Too true. Too many corporates ticking boxes, “Yes, we need Social Media. Sally has a Facebook account and talks loads about her 1,000 Twitter followers. She should do the Social Media stuff. She’s young, grew up with Social Media and loves to talk to people.”

    @Brian – In the field of law you are the expert. Maybe you just need a tactician?

    @Mickie – Great post. However, I disagree with one of your points. There is a right way to use Social Media – engage with your audience (especially in the comments field of blogs – it’s where I get most of my customers).

  10. A great post! In my line of work, a critical “filter” in differentiating levels of talent is determining strategic capability vs tactical execution. Ask a Social Media candidate questions regarding the strategic approach to a specific project or brand/marketing challenge, and the cream quickly rises to the top! If you truly want to be a guru in the space, make sure you can think strategically in the space first! Remember, tactics by nature can never be wrong; however, they can be misapplied based on incorrect strategy! (Michael Adams)

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  12. pluggduk says:

    Everyone claims to be social media expert this days. You are quite right. What works for a particular brand might not work for the other. You just have to test the waters.

  13. Isn’t an expert someone who knows 1% more than the other party sitting on the other end of the table ?

    That’s at least how I approach it. Next to that, it’s the clients you work for and the people who work with you (or tweet with you, in a virtual metaphor) who decide your “expert” status. Never proclaim it yourself, not even when someone else calls you that way… Basic rule in social media anyway 😉

  14. […] “As social media marketing has risen to prominence, it seems like a day doesn’t go by where I don’t come across a blog post or an article telling me how I need to use social media. Everyone thinks he or she is a social media expert. Honestly, I’m pretty sick of it.” Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases […]

  15. […] Don’t be intimidated. If somebody tells you they’re a social media expert just nod and walk away. We’re all just learning this new and exciting way to market your […]

  16. I agree completely with your suggestion to prospects to check out what former clients have to say about your work. I make it a point to include a print-out of my LinkedIn recommendations with my C3 business materials for prospective clients. Many people don’t realize that LinkedIn gives you the ability from within your profile to print out a beautifully formatted PDF document. Set print to start on the page that begins the recos; print on your company stock paper and you have a nice document for clients to refer to and look at live on the site.

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