Go do a search on Google for the term “social media expert” without the quotes and you’ll find that Google has indexed 83 million pages that it believes could be relevant to your search
Think about that for a minute, 1.2 million.
That is a whole lot of “expertise.” Especially in a field that is only, at best, a couple of decades old (10 years is really even a stretch). To really make you go, “hmm” search for either “marketing expert” or “advertising expert.” Before you actually do, though, take a guess at the results you’ll have returned to you. Do you think they will be more or less than the social media variant?
Go do the searches (in a new tab/window of course). I’ll wait here.
What did you find out? You most likely were shocked at the extreme variance between so-called “social media experts” and “marketing/advertising experts.” I know I was a little surprised.
With so many people claiming to be the expert when it comes to social media, it begs the question: how do I know who to trust to help me learn how to apply all of this social media stuff to my business, my life, or whatever. The truthful answer is this: you don’t. The reality is, no one really, truly knows how this whole “social media thing” really is going to work in the future. No one really knows how it will actually exist (if at all) in 10, 5, heck, 1 year down the road.
Remember MySpace? That dinosaur of a social network? It’s hanging on for dear life, and it gained peak popularity no more than a few years ago. Twitter has already exploded and leveled off – no one in the media really seems to care anymore. It’s reached the same level of recognition as Facebook, but only a few people actually use it.
So, back to the point:
Who do you trust to help you learn more about social media and how it applies to you?
Well, think about this. If no one really knows what the right answer is, then logically, no one really knows what the wrong answer is either. Take comfort in that.
Granted, there are plenty of things that have been done by people that are considered “wrong,” just like there are plenty of things that people have done that are considered “right” when it comes to social media. The answer to knowing who to trust is to observe and learn from the people that seem to never do those “wrong” things. Or, if they do, they have the humanity to own them, learn from them, teach/share with the world (since sharing really is what social media is all about), and move on.
Use common sense; use good judgment; ask yourself if you think some of the stuff these so-called experts are trying to sell/teach you makes sense. And if you are thinking about paying one of these people to help you with your own social media efforts, ask for and actually check their references.
If you’d like a head start on people that I think know what they are talking about and are doing it as right as possible when it comes to social media, check out some of these people:
- Chris Brogan (Twitter, Site)
- Ed Shahzade (Twitter, Site)
- Calvin Lee (Twitter, Site)
- Ann Handley (Twitter, Site)
- Scott Stratten (Twitter, Site)
- Lauren Fernandez (Twitter, Site)
- David Spinks (Twitter, Site)
- DJ Waldow (Twitter, Site)
There are plenty of others that I’m sure I have noticed are doing it “mostly right,” but I can’t remember them right now. For some really good questions and some amusing reactions to the wrong answers for interviewing and potentially working with social media experts, take a look at this “10 Questions to Evaluate a Social Media ‘Expert‘” post by Ian Lurie.
The moral of the story?
Be careful who you trust to teach you about social media. There are literally millions of people that claim the title, but only a select few that have earned the title (oh, and here’s a hint: most of the people that have earned the title and deserve the respect to be called social media experts, don’t call themselves social media experts).