Social media expert (professional? specialist?): What am I?

In creating new business cards to network following my hop across the pond, I found myself in a bit of an interesting little pickle: What, exactly, am I? While that may sound more metaphysical or philosophical than my silly lil’ mind cared to explore at the moment, rest assured that I was thinking only in the simplest of terms.

I’ve been working in marketing and communications for a long time (longer than I care to admit!), and have added social media experience during the past year to those earlier roles and previous knowledge garnered. Faced with putting an actual title on a rather-blank business card, however, I found myself a bit perplexed as to how to succinctly convey all that I can offer a potential employer. That is, were I a CPA, I could clearly sum it up in three letters. Were I a clinician, it’d be just as easy to put down a title that nearly everyone in the world would recognize. (Heck, I could even add a specialty, were I so inclined.)

In this new Web 2.0 (well, really, quasi-3.0) world, it becomes a bit more difficult to give the elevator speech of all I know and can do.

Following a quick Google search to compare terms and titles, I came across an old entry by Michal E. Rubin, “Is the social media expert going the way of the dodo?” In it, he makes the point that social media “experts” will fail to be experts in the next few years as social media moves  “to be a part of the basic skill set in which anyone who communicates for a living will have to have a decent amount of knowledge and expertise.” He believes that social media will just be yet another piece of the marketing mix pie. I think it already is…or should be.

The comments which followed agreed with his stance and made some more interesting points:

  • “Simply owning a Twitter and Facebook page doesn’t necessarily qualify one as an expert.”
  • “It’s not enough to just understand how to use Twitter. (C’mon people, it’s 140 characters and a great big ‘Update’ button.) The ‘expertise’ has more to do with strategy.”
  • “Every search I’ve done so far but one has been a marketing, technology, or PR search with social media as a needed skill set, and not a pure social media job…”

I’ve interacted with some of the true “leaders” in social media. Their strategies and creativity will always put them in  great demand. However, I don’t think it’s because they have the most Twitter followers or site diggs, but rather they understand the virtual world (which still values “do unto others…”) and they know what they’re doing.  They offer advice, insight, and dialogue with members of their communities. They build relationships. It’s not just a push-push-push of tweets and blog entries into a virtual universe which may ignore them, but rather a true interaction, offering value and unique expertise to others…which should be the goal of all of this. Simply stated by @MarksPhone in a healthcare social media (#hcsm) Twitter discussion this evening, “If we are talking to ourselves, we aren’t using social media correctly.”

My business cards have shipped and will be ready for me to hand out to those I meet in real life. The title used? “Marketing | Social media | Communications.” That’s it. No expert, professional, nor specialist. Soon enough, I agree that we’ll all be experts in social media (or should be, lest we all go the way of the dodo!). While I may have acquired some knowledge of what works — and what doesn’t — relatively early in SM, I also bring an MBA in marketing to the table, for which I worked very hard, plus a wide range of mar-comm experience. Besides, that degree describes more what I am and what I know…in just three letters.


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