Your Guide to Social Media Enlightenment – From Trending Topics to Innovative Startups
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Who Invented the Social Media Guru?

Social Media Guru	| Social Media BlogDo you call yourself a social media ninja, guru or rockstar? Are you looking to hire a social media… well, fill in the blank with another grandiose title or ill-suited fictional character of choice. Are self-proclaimed titles such as these professional? No. You usually don’t hear about human resource mavericks or accountant kings.

What might seem harmless enough can be fertile grounds for losing credibility in the social media scene. Listen up, professionals are mocking you. Don’t believe me. Just search for “Social Media Guru” in YouTube and you will find videos such as I’m a Social Media Guru  and The Social Media Guru.

Where does that leave you? You could call yourself a social media expert; however, I caution you to use this title sparingly. Firstly, a negative association exists with this title. The second and third points to my argument are well articulated by Christopher Penn, professor of social media marketing, by stating that what entails a social media expert is not agreed upon and social media has not been around long enough to assert such a label. Read the editorial note to access a great article about who should be considered a social media expert. Thank you Stan!!

Terms such as social media marketer and community manager have entered the stage, perhaps to legitimize the position and tone down larger than life job titles; however, these titles mean different things to different people, i.e., day-to-day tasks versus overall strategic decisions.

Many social media gurus have thrown out big words such as engagement and transparency and without sufficient experience and knowledge have left companies bitter because they were once caught up in the fairytale about a social media utopia, where zero investments could result in a flood of revenue only to wake up sober and dehydrated, left licking their wounds as they realize effective social media activities are not free and wonder what they have accomplished through their social media efforts.

Here’s my stance. Social media doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There are certain basic activities such as a company blog that all employees can participate in with a day’s worth of training and a solid policy / procedures manual. The heavy lifting in social media should be left to marketers that use traditional marketing methods where appropriate in addition to online activities or at the very least have a social media person that works in tandem with the marketing department. Social media is only one part of a fully-integrated marketing communications strategy. When this is done incorrectly, social media efforts can actually hurt your brand / company. For example, offline media and online media can result in different brand associations and confuse consumers.

An angry Mark Shaeffer wrote How to save your butt when the social media bubble bursts. Sift through the emotionally charged language to uncover a gem of an argument, that social media needs to be measured to rationalize its existence, Marketing 101. This is becoming increasingly important as companies invest more of their time and other resources towards social media activities. There are a wide range of tools that measure the effectiveness of social media efforts. For example, perhaps you are using social media to improve brand awareness. A survey can be conducted before and after the campaign to measure its level of success. You might find Social Mention useful in tracking customer sentiment and the list goes on and on.

As a side note, the world of social media is in a constant state of flux, so regardless of what people in social media call themselves, at a bare minimum they should follow Mashable, TechCrunch and Social Media Examiner to maximize the potential of their efforts.

In summary, don’t embarrass yourself and hurt your credibility by calling yourself a social media rock star. Recognize that companies are disenfranchised because of unrealistic expectations and employees that do not provide value to their company through their social media efforts. So now what? Social media efforts must be measured to rationalize their existence. Social media marketing is one piece of a fully-integrated marketing communications strategy. Let marketers that have experience in the social media sphere do the heavy lifting. Regardless of what you call yourself, you need to constantly be learning and experimenting.

Editor’s note: the questions remains, how do you spot someone is credible in social media and can help your company. Stan does a  good job of it here: http://pushingsocial.com/how-to-spot-a-social-media-expert. Enjoy!

What is your option about how terms such as social media guru has come about? Who should be responsible for social media activities?

Photo credit: Agent-X-Comics

5 Responses to this post.

  1. huffygirl's Gravatar

    Posted by huffygirl on 24.05.11 at 6:32 am

    What an insightful post! I’m devoid of business savy, so I’ll leave further discussion on this to others. My take is that self-proclamation as “guru” may be problematic for many in a number of ways.

  2. lauraleewalker's Gravatar

    Posted by lauraleewalker on 24.05.11 at 6:32 am

    Thank you so much!! That feels good to hear. Also, thank you for visiting again. Great to see a familiar face.

  3. MonMorong's Gravatar

    Posted by MonMorong on 24.05.11 at 6:32 am

    One word Laura-Lee: WOW. What an excellent article. Key things that resonated: social media must be part of an integrated marketing communications strategy and brand awareness should be measured pre and post social media campaign. This is exactly what I’ve been educating the small biz owners I’ve starting working with who want to get into the new media space. I really feel on the same page as you when it comes to the social media hype! The titles are definitely overrated – when hiring a social media “expert” one should definitely look at the person’s skills, work history, case studies, education and references/testimonials at the very minimum.

  4. lauraleewalker's Gravatar

    Posted by lauraleewalker on 24.05.11 at 6:32 am

    Hi Monica, thank you for reading my post! It’s great that you can relate. These bigger than life titles that people in social media have given themselves gets to me because they are really just shooting themselves in the foot and negatively contributing to how business professionals view people working in social media as a whole.

  5. When experts are experts in name only | New Media and Marketing's Gravatar

    Posted by When experts are experts in name only | New Media and Marketing on 24.05.11 at 6:32 am

    [...] Who Invented the Social Media Guru? (lauraleewalker.com) [...]

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