You Are Not A Social Media Guru, Ninja, Expert, Master, (Enter Title Here)

Let me preface this blog post with saying that nor am I, nor have I ever claimed to be, however I do know enough to be able to implement workable, results driven social media plans and have had some success doing so.  However there are thousands of individuals across the interweb claiming they are.  From old school marketers simply updating their titles to stay with the times, to recent graduates who know how to use Twitter or Facebook.  Just take a look at how many Twitter users “claim” their authority on the subject.

I’m not saying that there aren’t any very knowledgeable people on the subject, but this has gotten so out of hand, that it’s hurting the credibility of those that can actually provide real value with social media consulting and marketing services.  I’ve talked with many small businesses that are so out of the loop, that I could easily see them being “wowed” by anyone armed with just basic knowledge of how to get around the major social network channels.

So how can we filter out all the pretenders?  Social media marketing certainly could use some certification to start with.  But really, it falls on those that really want to make a career out of social media marketing through learning the craft, and getting familiar with as many tools as possible.  Dive deep into each channel and understand their differences so that you can make informed decisions about what makes the most sense for a particular business or cause.

I’ve found getting familiar with reporting tools such as Radian 6 and Social Radar a good start.  However those can be expensive tools to get access to.  An alternative to start with is simply using free tools like SocialMention.com or Google Analytics.  Dig in and try to really understand social media metrics and how that data can be leveraged to help businesses understand the value of a strong social media plan.

Social Media is not a new concept.  People have been connecting, sharing, and communicating since the beginning of time.  What’s changed is HOW we do these things.  The Facebooks and Twitters of the world are simply giving us new technologies to do these things more easily then ever and at enormous scale.

Quite frankly, I would steer clear of anyone that ever uses words like “guru” or “ninja” when describing themselves.  Chances are they are quite the opposite.

What do you think?  Too many unqualified cooks in the kitchen?

9 comments

  • certification? to me, certificatio is the enabling of a bureauracy who creates standardized tests and charges you money so you can put something on your business card that shows you can pass standardized tests and pay them money every year for continuing education credits.

    I've generally found that certification has very little real-world correlation wth someone being good at doing the task; paying fees and passing tests designed to be passed (otherwise, they won't pay the fees!) doesn't really prove you know how to do something….

  • I just discovered your blog, and im glad I did. Your post made me laugh! I've never heard anyone call themselves a social media NINJA…some terrifying “marketers” out there!

  • I agree that certification can often be just a means to raise a few bucks, but I don't think that applies all the time. In this case I think something would be better then nothing, and would help weed out some of the pretenders.

  • Jason,

    Good post and good topic. I'm not sure that I agree that certification is the way to go because almost anyone can take a class, study for a test and have an “academic” understanding of Social Media. But Social Media isn't like getting cert that says you can set up a Network which requires knowledge but is a much more “mechanical” exercise. There is more “art” and less technical in Social Media and I think it's a talent that can only be developed through experience. To be clear, there are plenty of mechanics to Social Media but that is really the easy stuff and all a lot of the so-called experts are basing their “expertise” on.
    Instead, I would look at other things like track record, what a so called expert actually does on their own social media channels and a host of other things that are more informative than someone with another set of initials after their name.

    More thoughts at : http://www.vsellis.com/social-media/what-is-a-s

  • Good points. I definitely agree with track record. The challenge there is because SM marketing is so new, there are lots of small businesses that don't know what to look for in a seasoned SM marketer. They can be “fooled” quite easily by someone who has just built a large following.

  • Not sure certification is the answer. As you stated, social media is not new, but how we are connecting is constantly evolving. Self education is important and will set you a part from the pretenders. Thank you for the shout out!

    Lauren Vargas
    Community Manager at Radian6
    @VargasL

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