Should Social Media Experts Die In A Fire?
Social media entrepreneur Peter Shankman’s tirade on social media “experts” Friday morning struck a nerve with a lot of people:

I Will Never Hire a “Social Media Expert,” and Neither Should You

I was going to call this article “All “Social Media Experts” need to go die in a fire,” but I figured I should be nicer than that.

But my title stands. If you call yourself a “Social Media Expert,” don’t even bother sending me your resume.

No business in the world should want a “Social Media Expert” on their team. They shouldn’t want a guru, rock-star, or savant, either. If you have a “Social Media Expert” on your payroll, you’re wasting your money.

Being an expert in Social Media is like being an expert at taking the bread out of the refrigerator. You might be the best bread-taker-outer in the world, but you know what? The goal is to make an amazing sandwich, and you can’t do that if all you’ve done in your life is taken the bread out of the fridge.

Social Media is just another facet of marketing and customer service. Say it with me. Repeat it until you know it by heart. Bind it as a sign upon your hands and upon thy gates. Social Media, by itself, will not help you.

I first read this Friday morning and had one of those “yep” and move on kind of moments. But then people in my circles started tweeting and emailing it around. Shankman makes an absolutely important point about people who call themselves social media experts or “gurus.” I cringed every time the chieftain of the Perry campaign organization called me a “social media maven” over the past couple of years. I think Peter Shankman’s rant (if I had to guess) was likely borne from some recent encounter he had with some spammy, self-promoting idiot calling himself a social media “expert.” I encounter these people far too often for my liking.
Really, it’s not about there being one social media person who takes care of business in a compartmentalized way, it’s about buy-in from the top-down and incorporating facets of social media into every person’s traditional roles.
Social media is also not a magic pill, panacea, or something you can just check off a list and be done with it. It’s just another set of tools, just like any other in the past. They once, long, long ago, had a job called “typist” (and maybe they still do somewhere). Today, everyone types their own stuff. Same idea with social media. Good social media people aren’t just proverbial typists, they’re creative, good at writing, good at research, clever/quick-witted, organized, persistent, good at customer service, good at seeing the big picture, and have good judgment. Just like any employee, anywhere in any organization.
The most “expert” (self-styled) people I’ve ever met in social media have few of those qualities.
In a perfect world, everyone would individually be able to “do this stuff” without any help or guidance. In reality, there’s actually a lot to it, and a lot of people are overwhelmed or feel they just don’t have time to engage the way they need to to make it worthwhile.
I’ve made many similar rants to the one Shankman made this morning. There are probably thousands of terrible, worse-than-worthless books out there by “social media experts,” and countless more social media hacks trying to collect clients for the sake of collecting clients, and, while I might not go so far as to say that they need to all go and die in a fire, I will say it’s pretty easy to sort out the pure self promoting social media “experts” from the folks who are are– first and foremost– great at other actual stuff but who also just so happen to also be literate in social media.

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