Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Rise of the Social Media Guru, Rockstar, Ninja, Wizard, & Expert: Why I Will Never Be a Social Media Magical Being

I think it is a widely held opinion (for many in the social media game) that somewhere between 2006 and present day, there was a sudden influx of individuals successfully reaching the status of guru-dom in the social sphere. Perhaps this affinity with spiritual advisers was spawned by a massive sale on Eastern religion books on Amazon.com that then triggered the enlightened and often unemployed to take to "The Twitter" to pass out the guru koolaid to anyone who knew how to log-on to Facebook and find the # key on their Dell (There is absolutely no foundation for the statement I just made).

Last year Peter Shankman, HARO Founder and (ironically enough) social media expert,  wrote a piece entitled, "I WILL NEVER HIRE A “SOCIAL MEDIA EXPERT,” AND NEITHER SHOULD YOU". Upon hearing this declaration from a well-respected online marketer, many businesses found themselves marching into their social media gurus' lairs and demanding to see some documented proof of their social media guru's gurudom.  It also prompted many social media folks (myself included) to unfollow that Peter prick on Twitter. (Oh, you wouldn't hire me? Well I don't want to listen to your banter about what you're eating for lunch you, you giant poophead!)

My more mature thoughts on this matter are in-tune with SEOmoz's Rand's response to Mr. Shankman's article here: "Why Everyone Should Hire A Social Media Expert" who writes:
The full piece makes a passionate case, but an entirely false one. There's no evidence, only opinion; no examples, just speculation; no data, but loads of stereotyping. The author is certainly one of the premier benefactors of social traffic and of a new, more socially-connected web (Mr. Shankman founded and sold HARO, the service that connects journalists to subject-matter experts), yet he somehow manages to ignore the benefits social media has brought him (and his clients/company) to write a scathing dressing-down of anyone who dares claim expertise in this marketing discipline.
Whatever your opinion on the piece, it did spark some questions about how legitimate social media experts roles were within the online marketing sphere- and more than that- who could be considered a "social media expert?"

Although social media is my area of expertise, I would like to continue to refrain from calling myself a social media "expert", "guru", "rockstar" and/or other type of ruler, royalty, or magic being for the following reasons:

 1) Social media changes fast. I mean, it is in real time. Anyone who claims to be an expert in all aspects of the social sphere is probably making crap up exaggerating. It is as silly as writing and publishing a how-to tutorial/guide in print on the topic of social media. By the time I hike to the store to pick a copy up, half of it will no longer be valid. Also, you wasted a tree. We, uhm, sort of need those.

 2) Where will be put all the Social Media Gurus? This question plagues me all the time. There are so many of them. We're running out of space. Also, Wikipedia told me:
"In Western usage, the meaning of guru has been extended to cover anyone who acquires followers, though not necessarily in an established school of philosophy or religion. In a further Western extension, guru is used, or even misused from the original religious meaning, to refer to a person who has authority because of his or her perceived knowledge or skills, such as in business."
Welp, there you have it. The only kind of followers I want are on Twitter and I certainly don't have anything to say in regards to your spiritual life.

3) Rockstars and royalty tend to have egos. I left mine at the corner of DiggingThroughTheLunchRoomTrashForMyRetainer and YesIDidJustFallDownAFlightOfStairsInFlats. If you are truly the social media ruler of the world, then why don't you go spend all your guru money instead of spending your time tweeting about the hoards of money you made using Twitter?

4) I don't do magic. No, really. I don't. Mostly, I think these names are intimidating to those with little knowledge of the social sphere and I also have come to believe that the terminology (which is ever-changing and coined on the fly) allows individuals in my area of expertise to make out like we are magicians. I don't do magic tricks. I love unicorns, but unfortunately, I have none at my disposal at this time (sad face).

5) No one is regulating these titles. What are the prerequisites for achieving social media guru-dom? What must one achieve to be bestowed the title of "Social Media Queen"? Did these royals attend a social media university in their pajamas or were they simply born with a Twitter handle tattooed on the bottom of their foot and a Tweetdeck app in their playpens? With the onslaught of all these silly names, it can be difficult to identify the truly knowledgeable from the people trying to make a quick buck off peoples' cravings for social media guidance.

6) Social Media is not magic. This is the most important point that needs to be established. Social media isn't packing fairy godmother-like powers with the ability to transform your business from an over-sized squash into a Benz with the wave of a wand. Similarly, there is no Hogwarts approved equation for pumping up your social engagement and influence overnight. Social Media, at its core, is simply a means by which people can connect, share, and interact with the people and things in their lives. So, let's end this post with a few musings from the Twittersphere on Social Media Gurus.


Great post! Thanks for including my quote. Though it was my attempt at being humorous on the topic, I don't have an issue with the creative names that folks in social media come up with for themselves like "social media ninja, etc." as long as they're backing up all the bravado with hard work and proven results. You made a good point, too. We'll never know it all when it comes to social media because it's still evolving.

Best wishes,
Trish, @Dayngr
Community Manager | Radian6


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