I’m a Social Media Expert

How many times have you seen people call themselves a social media “expert”, “guru”, “maven”, etc?

Really?!? Have you ever wondered how many hours someone has to put in before they’re an expert? How about before they’re a guru? The point is there is no standard. There is no credential or qualification that a person can hang on their wall that says they’re a guru.

I’m not suggesting that no one can be a guru because there is no “social media guru” credential. There are people who I view as gurus. Mari Smith, Jeremiah Owyang and Scott Stratten to name a few.

So how does someone become a guru or expert in social media – or any field for that matter?

To answer that question, think to yourself about someone you view as an expert in their field. Now, why do you view them as an expert? Here are few things that might crossed your mind:

  • They’ve demonstrated they know what they are talking about through practical experience.
  • When listening to them speak, they seem confident and knowledgeable in their field.
  • Someone you know referenced them as an expert.

Probably no where on your mental list was “they call themselves an expert.”

In Scott Stratten’s book, UnMarketing, he indicates that you cannot call yourself an expert; only someone else can, and then they tell others.

Having “social media expert” in your profile doesn’t make you one.

Next time you meet someone online or offline that calls them self a social media expert, ask them why?

An additional thought

After posting this I had an additional thought about the danger of calling yourself a social media expert.

If you view yourself as an expert or guru you may run the risk of assuming you have a lot of knowledge. So much so that your ability or desire to learn becomes non-existent.

While some people may view me as an expert, I know there are many people that have more knowledge and experience and that I can always learn from those around me.

What are your thoughts? What makes someone a social media expert? Please share your thoughts below.

Disclaimer: I should let everyone know; the name of this post does not imply that I view myself as an expert. I never have, nor never will call myself a social media expert. It’s meant to be funny.

  • Anonymous

    I have to agree with you. I love social media and know all I can possibly fit into my head, but I would never call myself an expert. There is simply too much to know and with social still growing and changing there is no way to know it all.
    Mari whom you mention above I would call her an expert, she has shown her knowledge and not only that she has chosen a niche. Rather than a social media expert she is known for her expertise in Facebook.
    Personally I think that is the way to go. You want to be an expert, the best way is to pick a niche within social and know it inside and out.

  • http://twitter.com/OffTheWallSM Raylene Wall

    Overconfidence is not a trait I’m looking for when I work with any professional. I agree, absolutely, that calling yourself an expert does not make you one. In my experience with social media, humility, honesty, and an ACCURATE representation of your skills is extremely important. I agree, also, that Mari and Scott and Jeremiah are definitely experts. They have the track record to prove it, too! I have called myself a social media specialist, because this is an area I specialize in, but the more I learn in the industry the more I realize how much MORE there is to learn (i.e., how much I really don’t know)! In order to do a good job, I need to focus on what I CAN do, and do it well for my clients, while learning and expanding in my focus. Under promise and over deliver! :)  Great post!

  • Jackbasket04

    Learn to use there, their, and they’re correctly. (ironically you never used the last one, which is the one you should have used.)

  • http://twitter.com/jprins jprins

    All I do is remember how to use ‘their’.  Since ‘they’re’ is so self explanatory, everything is ‘there’.

  • http://twitter.com/jprins jprins

    And in regards to credentials and education, even people with them can be id10ts.

    You hit the nail on the head with the quote from the Unmarketing guy. You can’t appoint yourself a title, it has to be given to you.

    If I can show my geek side for a moment, Martok said this in ST:DS9 “Great men do not seek power, they have power thrust upon them”.

  • Susan Stec

    I have no idea what a social media expert is, but now that you’ve brought the label to my attention – I’m thinking I may want to check it out, although I shy away from anyone trying to sell $$$$ anything like…oh, I don’t know…friends? – with a one liner like: Find out how I got 1000 followers over night. I may be totally off base, but like I said, I have no clue.

    Susan Stec

  • Steve Opperthauser


    In today’s ever
    growing mobile society and marketing arena, a well planned and executed social
    media marketing (SMM) strategy should be a part of every organizations marketing
    plan. It expands the reach, improves the credibility and your brand. You don’t have
    to be an “expert” to understand the value here. Find those that can demonstrate
    effective use and understanding behind SMM.

    The value of
    incorporating an “SMM expert” is huge. You can achieve real time feedback for
    your services/products, create an instant buzz and reach an informed target
    audience. As any “expert” can tell you, all this can be done with very little
    financial investment – however for your SMM strategy to pay you
    long-term dividends, you need to make sure you have practices and checks in
    place that ensure efficient execution and a quick response.

    one expects any organization to be perfect so in the event of negative or critical
    comments, it’s better to respond to them immediately and fairly. Do an internet
    search of those phrases, etc. that pertain to your business or industry and you will soon see the value in SMM.

  • Chris Syme

    Can’t say as I completely agree with all this, Mike. I think you can earn the right to use the label expert in your profile, but you have to earn it. There is so much false humility in the marketing world, sometimes it behooves me. An expert is just someone with authoritative knowledge, not absolute knowledge. If you’re a social media expert, you have an area of expertise–higher ed, corporate, whatever. Nobody has absolute social media expertise. Somebody who quits learning because they think they are an expert has a bigger problem: hubris. One thing I do agree with, Mike, is (to quote a Forest Gump line), expert is as expert does. Labels are meaningless. I think part of the problem these days is that some of the real experts are pissed off that everyone calls themselves an expert because they know how to put up a Facebook page. Kind of like hipsters–don’t call us one, but we are one. There you go. Rant for the day!

  • Chris Syme

    Shoud have said Labels can be meaningless. Kinda shot myself there.

  • http://www.mikemccready.ca/blog/ Mike McCready

    Chris, I’m glad you don’t completely agree with me. That’s when the best conversations happen. You make some very good points about using the term ‘expert.’ I’ve been called on more than one occasion an ‘expert’ or ‘guru’ and I do feel like one at time and then other times I feel like I’m not. I know there are people with so much more knowledge and experience than me, so how I can I call myself an expert when I see others who deserve that title more?

  • Chris Syme

    Good thought Mike but there can be more than one expert. You don’t have to be #1 to be an expert, or even #10 for that matter. I guess I think it’s defined by knowledge and practice, not rank.