You’re NOT a social media expert, you idiot
Are you tired of hearing it yet? I sure am. It seems Twitter has fostered an extreme steroid fed bacterial growth of social media experts, social media gurus and super follower magnates. Unfortunately there isn’t much of an antibiotic floating around to separate the experts from the idiots. If you weren’t aware already, most of these experts are just idiots that have found a stool to stand on and shout their garbled rehashed crap they read from TwiTips.com and rewrote it on their own “pretty” blog.
I believe there are five different types of what is perceived to be social media experts. Please note: I’m excluding the idiots above because they’re not experts and they don’t need to be discussed, just ignored.
Type One: Authoritative Expert
This first type of expert has the lucky ability of transferring their authoritative status in their field over into the social media world. Basically, they are a high profile executive, someone famous, someone with a TV show, radio show, have written books and had them published or they were found dancing to some stupid song on YouTube. This is an authoritative expert because they are an expert and master in something else. People flock to them in social media because they are comfortable with the brand, the person or know of their accomplishments. Examples: @joelcomm, @guykawasaki, @jimmyfallon, @aplusk (Ashton Kutcher) or the Numa Numa Guy (he really could have done something with this mainstream popularity)
If you’re into search engine optimization or Internet Marketing you can liken this type to what is called PageRank. PageRank is essetinally a ranking number based on how many links a website has, making it an authority on the subject. Once again, these sites can just crap out content and have it rank well because the rest of their site already has a power authority that can not be obtained overnight.
Type Two: The Power User Expert
This second type of expert has successfully climbed the social mountain of one social media institution and can generally transfer this power over to other social networks. Once one mountain is conquered it’s invariably easier to conquer the next. You will often find these power users have established a network of die hards, fans or people that just think they are the next best thing since sliced bread. Sometimes the fascination relates to a sort of fame but just a more “geeky” type of fame. Most of the time these power users follow an extensive list of RSS feeds or favorite publications (sometimes ones they’re getting a payment from) and faithfully submit stuff that catches their eye or fills their wallet. Now hold up, don’t get all pissy with me, I’m not saying all these guys are paid, that is certainly not the case, some of the top ones aren’t paid a dime and I’m certain of it.
Now this second bit of explanation is going to hurt a little more, so bear with me. A lot of these types of experts claim they know something others do not, they have voodoo sauce or they are just that good. I say that’s just horse shit. What these users have done is played the numbers game. Remember that they conquered a mountain before many? They were early adopters and were able to amass insurmountable numbers that are hard to fathom outside of the Internet. With this following they also are adept at using cutting edge content finding tools, errr RSS readers and aggregators / insider contacts, and definitely do have a feel for content their minions will clamor over.
A large percent of these users don’t create much content, they just scour top headlines and feed the masses with what is already popular or what looks like it will be popular, good content eye-ballers.
The last sentence above is the most important to me in defining the third type of social media expert.
Type Three: Content Creation Social Media Experts
The third type of social media expert is a studier of people, a voyeurist of social interactions, a trend follower and someone who knows how to work with stats, analytic programs and finding the correct timing and mechanisms to create and launch content tailored to the social world’s desires. This group of users are not famous and they are generally not power users but they still find a way to craft their content and get it recognized in the social media world. These users have either gained a respect extremely strong due to crafty social skills or have found a way to create effective content with mass appeal. An interesting example of someone who fits the crafty social skills model is a budding social media expert on Twitter. His name is Mark Murnahan @murnahan. What is interesting about Mark is that he’s not a power user but he still seems to harness the power of the retweet on Twitter. He is often ranked as one of the top retweeted people on Twitter but he maintains a fairly low follower count. This hints at a social media expert intelligence that is far deeper than controlling the masses but instead, effectively managing a tight nit group of users in a powerful way.
I have proven time and time again that I’m adept at creating content with mass appeal. For more stats please read my comment confession below. Sorry for the shameless self mention!
This type of social media expert can be a hybrid and obviously uses RSS feeds, top news headlines and great posts they have found to spread to the masses also. However, one of the unique parts of this type of social media user is that they do create content and aren’t just living off of everyone else’s content.
Type Four: Natural Social Media Experts
This fourth type of social media expert is in a way becoming a new breed of social media expert due to Twitter and Facebook. This user isn’t really focused on finding specific content and directing people towards news, articles or content driven sites but basically exude the defined properties of a social butterfly. They are generally fuzzy, loveable, nice, supportive and helpful and nurturing. Now that probably sounds a little over the top and surely every item doesn’t fit them all but I hope you get the point. These people are like that little Tony Robbins sitting on your shoulder. They provide that feeling of ghusto when you need it or they give you a positive vibe when you’re on emtpy. These users have risen to the top because they have great personalities and are excellent people persons.
Type Five: Social Media Salesman
This fifth type of social media expert doesn’t really care about participating socially and you can usually see that from their discussions. They’re often touting their next guru launch, recession eliminating product or some wonderful new voodoo product that will make you rich. These are pretty much just straight Internet Marketers. I am not saying they don’t create products of value, but not all of them do and it seems most of them feed off of each other. You’ll find them all talking about each other and stroking each others follower lists, email lists and they all speak about each other like Gods. It really gets quite old eventually. You can typically find these guys singing songs, pushing you towards squeeze pages or promising big convention parties that cost thousands of dollars. With that said, I’m not saying once again that they don’t sometimes put out valuable stuff, it’s just that this is their type of social media expertness. Just list building and hawking goods to be honest.
This post was actually inspired by a blog post from Jay Fowler @silentjay74, a good Mixx buddy of mine. You can read his blog post titled – What makes you the “expert”. I can’t seem to reproduce the passion that this post sparked in me but what it really sparked was a social media confession. I’ll provide a quote of my comment in response to Jay’s blog post here:
Hey Jay, this is a really good post touching on a growing issue. Why this is a growing issue, I have no clue. It’s sort of like bullies in High School, if they’re ignored they die off, if they are talked about and lauded by others, they seem to grow into cult status.
A social media expert in my opinion is completely different than what everyone thinks one is and I would be slaughtered for all the rules everyone says you must follow to be an expert.
One constant drivel of information about “good social media” people is that they can NOT only submit their own content. I personally think this is just bullshit.
A true expert in my opinion would be someone who creates all their own content, whether it’s for a client or not and submit it into the social media world and gets top rankings and wide exposure every single time. This to me would prove a strong knowledge of what people want, what people like and what WORKS in social media.
On Digg I had 44 front pages and the big secret is, they were ALL my own content and blogs.
Same with Mixx, almost all of my populars / front pages were my own content. Now on Mixx I operate a little differently and will gladly submit content from friends I respect.
My original purpose was strictly for historical and analytical reasons. When I had a percentage rating of successful front pages on Digg that was a very PERSONAL number. When removing my early Digg experience my successful frontpage percentage of my own content was around 90% FP. I know of not one social media “expert” that can say the same.
I know I’ll be hated for revealing this “secret” but everyone is an idiot if they can’t look at my submission histories and see the reality on their own.
So this brings me to being a social media expert when you’re slinging around content from frontpage publications, major news media outlets and mainstream media productions… does that really make you an expert? I believe it does not. How hard is it to look at RSS feeds and headlines all day long and submit them and get a front page or mass syndication? Pretty damn easy if you ask me and any gerbil with a clicking finger can do it.
What makes a social media expert? Results. Period. That’s it.
P.S. I operate on Twitter completely differently, I think it’s a very different animal and I use my credibility to RT posts and in effect I am putting my name behind those as well. It seems more purposeful to me to participate in the 2 way submission process.
Some will look at me in disgust and say how does your method equate to social? My method equates to social because I support good content, I constantly monitor the networks and vote or RT or Stumble content I feel is valuable. This does NOT mean you have to personally submit it. I feel bad because so many people will hate me and my view, but really, it doesn’t matter because they don’t have a clue what an expert is anyway.
Yes, you read that right, according to everyone’s Social Media Rules they often state, I just committed social media suicide. I revealed that all of my Front pages on Digg, Mixx and other sites were ALL content written by me and put on blog properties that I run. However, as I mentioned in the comment above, it’s just horse shit to say that you can’t be successful doing so. I also don’t believe this eliminates the social part of social media. What I really believe is that it shows an even more refined expertise that is not just slinging around mainstream media links or popular blog posts and submitting for a popular. Instead it takes a fine skill to study the trends and produce content that people want to vote for and pass around. Most social media experts you’ll find will state you can’t be successful if you self submit. Obviously that isn’t true so I’d really like to see this myth go to the dogs!
I personally believe that someone that can research a trend, create the content, syndicate that idea and generate successful exposure and reaction from the social media community has more skill than someone submitting twenty things a day they didn’t even write. One is like gambling, the other is a steady precision game that is focused on a particular goal. What do you think?
Well, there it is, practically a blog post all in itself. So let’s sum up all this information to a simple idea. If you find yourself being told by a social media expert how great they are and listening to their long winded theories, ask them or yourself this: Do you have results? Do you have proof of something going viral? Do you have frontpage data? Do you have traffic numbers or analytics proving the spread of your ideas and information? With the incredible growth of these “experts” most of them won’t have much. Their number of followers doesn’t mean a dang thing. If anything, you can guage their engagement values on Twitter by using a site like: www.twitalyzer.com Now if you’re looking at a user like Muhammad Saleem (msaleem) or Reg Saddler (zaibatsu) their value is undisputable and you don’t need to question whether you’re dealing with an expert. But some of these people are so far from experts it’s getting just silly to see their over inflated titles.
BOTTOM LINE: What is a social media expert? Proven results. See above for a more detailed explanation!
Let me know if you have any question by either leaving a comment here on the blog or dropping me a DM or @ message on Twitter over @webaddict.
Peace, Love and Chicken Grease,
If you like this article, Tweet this message to your Twitter stream.
RT @webaddict You’re NOT a Social Media Expert, You Idiot! http://cli.gs/AjhjvL #sm #socialmedia
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