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The So-Called “Social Media Expert”

June 8, 2009

So I have a Facebook page, Myspace page, StumbleUpon page; I tweet. You’re on LinkedIn, rate on Technorati, and we blog religiously. Does that make us social media experts? There are some people that tend to boast the title “expert” behind the newly generated industry of digital media. I believe it’s gone too far.  I recently read a book by Tim Ferris, called the 4-Hour Workweek. Tim wrote a statement that I completely agree with.  Paraphrasing, he says to be an expert in today’s age means to read three books, prepare a presentation for a group of college students and write of few articles and BOOM, you’re an expert, essentially undermining a true definition of an expert. If that were the case, anyone can be an expert.  In fact utilizing what I have seen, I can argue that, yes indeed, anyone that utilizes those tools can call themselves an “expert”…That’s about most of Gen X and Gen Y. Unfortunately, for most, I will not utilize that terminology.

Perhaps, I am still in the scientific frame of mind. Not to toot my own horn, but having completed undergrad with two degrees in Biological sciences, and Psychology, formed my own concentration in neuroscience, came close to getting a minor in chemistry, working as a research assistant in both department, and after doing all of that I was nowhere near being an expert in the scientific field. The scientific community would laugh at me if I published a book on neuroscience and the publishing company wouldn’t  risk the venture. I’m not up for the embarrassment at this moment in time.

Nowadays, the market is saturated with these self-proclaimed experts that have not proven anything other than they can fill out a profile, and add updates to it, and link to other sites. It is imperative that we define the common qualifications that define an expert in any industry.  In my school of thought and in layman’s terms (not into flowery language—just straight and to the point), an expert is one who has successfully shown (not proven) with reproducible results that their method is the way to go. I think we are totally, undermining what an expert truly is. So unless one can dramatically turn around a failing system or discover an untapped market, using social media, more than once…with different clients…across industries… he or she is a true expert, and you should buy every book and mark-up every e-book written.

So beware those who say you can exponentially increase your Twitter followers (for $49.99….per month). If you get that tweet, click un-follow, quick. Bail!

Beware those who say you can blog your way to riches unless they can reproduce the results and have real and legitimate case studies to back up their claim, and especially if the only way to find out how is to buy their e-book for $24.95.

And Beware those who say that social media alone can increase your revenues.  The old methods still  work to some extent, but the approach today is what has changed—getting it in front of the right people(not mass marketing, either).   As Seth Godin eloquently states in Purple Cow, create a remarkable product that the right people seek out (paraphrasing).

In sum, beware those who say they are experts. They are simply social media users. I admire those who try to capitalize on new tools, however, let’s keep the high standards that have truly defined an expert; cyberworld would be a better place, and you’d be a happier social media user.

So I have a Facebook page, Myspace page, StumbleUpon page; I tweet. You’re on LinkedIn, rate on Technorati, and we blog religiously. Does that make us social media experts? There are some people that tend to boast the title “expert” behind the newly generated industry of digital media. I believe it’s gone too far. I recently read a book by Tim Ferris, called the 4-Hour Workweek. Tim wrote a statement that I completely agree with. Paraphrasing, he says to be an expert in today’s age means to read three books, prepare a presentation for a group of college students and write of few articles and BOOM, you’re an expert, essentially undermining a true definition of an expert. If that were the case, anyone can be an expert. In fact utilizing what I have seen, I can argue that, yes indeed, anyone that utilizes those tools can call themselves an “expert”…That’s about most of Gen X and Gen Y. Unfortunately, for most, I will not utilize that terminology!

Perhaps, I am still in the scientific frame of mind. Not to toot my own horn, but having completed undergrad with two degrees in Biological sciences, and Psychology, formed my own concentration in neuroscience, came close to getting a minor in chemistry, working as a research assistant, and after doing all of that I was nowhere near being an expert in the scientific field. The scientific community would laugh at me if I published a book on neuroscience and the publishing company wouldn’t risk the venture. I’m not up for the embarrassment at this moment in time.

Nowadays, the market is saturated with these self-proclaimed experts that have not proven anything other than they can fill out a profile, and add updates to it. It is imperative that we define the common qualifications that define an expert in any industry. In my school of thought and in layman’s terms (not into flowery language—just straight and to the point), an expert is one who has successfully shown (not proven) with reproducible results that their method is the way to go. I think we are totally, undermining what an expert truly is. So unless one can dramatically turn around a failing system or discover an untapped market, using social media, more than once…with different clients…across industries… he or she is a true expert, and you should buy every book and mark-up every e-book written.

So beware those who say you can exponentially increase your Twitter followers (for $49.99….per month). If you get that tweet, click un-follow, quick. Bail!

Beware those who say you can blog your way to riches unless they can reproduce the results and have real and legitimate case studies to back up their claim, and especially if the only way to find out how is to buy their e-book for $24.95.

And Beware those who say that social media alone can increase your revenues. The old methods still work to some extent, but the approach today is what has changed—getting it in front of the right people(not mass marketing, either). As Seth Godin eloquently states in Purple Cow, create a remarkable product that the right people seek out (paraphrasing).

In sum, beware those who say they are experts. They are simply social media users. Let’s keep the high standards that have truly defined an expert; cyberworld would be a better place, and you’d be a happier social media user.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 1, 2009 6:57 am

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with this post and you’re so right. In the digital age there are those that try to capitalize on everything because most everyone comes to the internet to get rich quick and truly believe that they can.

    Most of the VAs that I worked with believed they could call them selves a VA or provide the services of a virtual assistant because they have a computer, mouse and keyboard, but regardless of what you’re doing online, business wise, still requires a little bit of business sense along with some common sense.

    Seth Godin also said that you should set yourself up as an expert and that every one is an expert in something. The way that I went about that was to never call myself an expert but allow others to see my knowledge, skill set and drive and make that determination for themselves.

    But I’ll also be the first to tell you that when I grow up I want to be the person that Josh and Steve at CI think I am.

    Great post… and great blog. I should probably be working but I’m poking around here… ssh… don’t tell… 😀

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