Certified Social Media Expert, What?

Certified Social Media Expert, What?

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Have you ever written a post, think you saved it and then “BAM” – you cannot find it? That has happened to me and I’m bumming because I had a great post on what it means to be a social media expert, and how the heck does one know if someone is qualified to call themselves an expert or flaunt this title – but it’s missing in the trenches of my laptop. Now I have to try and recreate all of my thoughts, research and links to great content but like all things there is a simple lesson for all bloggers – save your work where you can FIND it! Duh.

Social Media Expert

The title is used loosely, or so it seems, with many people using the words and not having much experience, client base or testimonials to back up the door plaque they’ve glued to the wall. Conversation Marketing has a humorous but truthful post on how to figure out if someone really is a social media expert and as I retype this I’m again laughing at the idea of people saying they are an expert after 6 months and no blog, Twitter feed or Facebook page! Over at Openpresswire there is less laughing and more name calling but a great break down of the different types of social media experts out there and how just about every other person is saying they’re a “social media expert”. Gag. Luckily we have Chris Brogan breaking it down and essentially saying, “If you call yourself a social media expert please know…”

Social Media Certification

What about having a pretty little certificate or banner on your website declaring that you’ve gone through 8 weeks of training to be a social media expert? I have mixed feelings on this because I know the way the world works, those with certifications and degrees sometimes have more to fall back on and when it comes to the online world in 5 years I worry this could make or break some people – yes regardless of experience. Not that I think this is right but when someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about has something fancy to sell the person who is naive about social media looking for guidance, I see someone being taken for an expensive joy ride and getting nowhere fast. This means those with the talent, the true expertise and experience could be overlooked because of certifications and fancy degrees.

Luckily, I’m not alone in my skeptical thinking, but I’m joined by others in the field like Beth HarteAndy Quayle and Olivier Blanchard. All of which talk about the dollar amount spent on the programs, the legitimacy of the programs and how is one supposed to know one certification is better than another? The time spent on the programs which take those practicing in the field away from the doing to relearn Twitter? That makes no sense and doesn’t seem to really serve my clients well. As Olivier Blanchard so nicely points out those in the industry should be part of the Social Media Business council verses aiming to be certified or looking to a new set of standards when there are already standards in the industry.

A step up from certification could be a Master’s degree in Social Media and as Mashable reported this is obtainable in just under one year for less than $7,000. The issue happens to be finding instructors qualified to teach the students because most of them already know the material! What does this tell me?

Social Media Expert is Not a Degree or Certification

When I look to others in the field and coin them as “experts” I look for the following (oh and being on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and having a blog with RSS is a given):

Looks Like Duck, Acts Like a Duck, It Probably Is a Duck. How long have they been blogging, using Twitter, Facebook and how many friends and followers do they have? Maybe they have more than one Twitter account and if they’re going to teach someone about Alexa rankings, Google Rankings – what the heck are their stats?

What Are Others Saying? Do they have any testimonials or past client experience? Who have they associated with, partnered with that can give them some Klout in the field? Have they been covered in the press and what about speaking at events, a book, ebook, etc?

Picasso. If they say they’re an artist then I want to see the artwork to be the judge. Assess the work, read their blog, view their Twitter streams and pay attention to what this “expert” is up to.

Anyone can say they’re an expert but when you use this word it has a double edge to it and can often cut you if you’re not careful. It makes me nervous to even type the words, but in the 3 years I’ve been doing this I’ve learned that the best people I know in the field of blogging and social media don’t call them experts but are usually coined as such by others. They’re modest students learning about the new applications that change shapes as fast as the clouds, experimenting with different networks, mediums and are the ones in the trenches trying to keep up with the fast paced world – so they can teach and guide others. Many of them are yes, bloggers who started like me, innocently trying to reach others and found that I had a new passion that I was good at, in my humble opinion. Perhaps this is why agencies and big companies are reaching out to the so called, “little guys”. Catch is, these “little guys” have partnerships with others now and have recognized their worth – so don’t take advantage of them because they’re not wearing a name tag that says, “Expert”.

Do you call yourself an expert?

Poquette is a K12.com 3rd grade teacher, a social media and marketing consultant (in her free time), blogger and children’s book author. She has a knack for vetting bloggers, creating blogger campaigns and connecting brands and bloggers. She speaks locally, regionally and nationally on blogging, social media and education. She’s worked with top name brands and has been mentioned and featured in the New York Times, ABC News Online, The Wall Street Journal and several others.

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  • http://twitter.com/AGTHomes AGT Homes

    Thanks for this helpful post. I never call myself an expert, but for now I call myself an Online Community Manager since I do all the social media for the company I work at.

    I believe Sincerity, Empathy, Good Writing Skills, and Adaptability are important traits of any kind of Social Media Specialist.

  • http://twitter.com/AGTHomes AGT Homes

    Thanks for this helpful post. I never call myself an expert, but for now I call myself an Online Community Manager since I do all the social media for the company I work at.

    I believe Sincerity, Empathy, Good Writing Skills, and Adaptability are important traits of any kind of Social Media Specialist.

  • http://twitter.com/Brainmaker Suzanna Stinnett

    I'm enjoying this post as I just rewrote a piece about how to assess a social media marketing pro. And I have not forgotten Olivier's skillful machete pass through a now-defunct organization offering an “International” certification in social media. The question always is: Who certifies the certifiers? Terminology is yet another swamp we're all in today. Guru is definitely out. Expert just sounds pompous. The word I've found that is simply descriptive is “specialist.” At least an individual can actually show the channel of their specialization. And we need specialists. No one knows every platform like a native. No one can.

    Within a specialty a person can actually become an expert. One thing I can say I am an expert at is proofreading. (And no, I am not going to proof this post, so don't get on me about it, ha!) I can say I'm an expert at proofreading because I've been doing it for 30 years and I am totally comfortable with the extreme skill level I've reached.

    But to call yourself an expert in social media? That's like going out on the playground and announcing “I am an EXPERT at RECESS!!” Yeah. Try it. See how that goes over.

    Thanks for getting this topic out in the air again. It's worth revisiting, often.
    Cheers!
    Suzanna Stinnett