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Beware the Social Media Expert

Check any of my six email addresses and you’ll find articles written about the latest trend in social media, marketing, tourism or design. I’ve got no problem at all with learning on a daily basis. I spend a lot of my working day trying to stay up to date.


The problem with social media “experts” is that they profess a level of knowledge that just isn’t possible within the industry. It isn’t old enough. The changes happen to quickly. And you have to question just to what, exactly, their expertise pertains. Is it the technology? Because knowing how to post and share and disseminate doesn’t do anything for your consumer.

The only person who is an expert on your customer is…your customer. And, maybe if you’ve been paying close attention, you.

For social media success it is important to be an expert on your community of consumers and a student of the technology that connects you.

The Problem with Gurus

It has been said, and I believe this is true, that every social media professional secretly longs to be called a guru. I myself have been called one and it made me smile inside. But a guru is the wrong choice for implementing your social media strategy.

When you think of a guru you probably think of a man at the top of a mountain or on the other side of the world. He is removed from all distractions so he can think heavily on issues and impart his knowledge to only those who make the journey to learn from him.

Going back to our pal, Wikipedia: A guru is one who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom, and authority in a certain area, and who uses it to guide others (teacher).

But social media isn’t something you can master from afar. You have to be in it every day, getting your hands dirty and making mistakes, to really know it. You’ve got to be in the fray, reaching out to your specific community. There’s nothing you can learn about your customers from the outside.

Learn from a guru. But don’t have one sitting on the outside telling you what your community wants. You’ll need an inside man for that.