May 23, 2011, Posted by Kevin Mullett in all about me, marketing, social, un-common sense

the term SOCIAL MEDIA EXPERT overused & over-vilified

After avoiding the conversation publicly, or at least in print, for well over a year I am finally giving my 2 cents worth on the whole “social media expert” argument. To be abundantly clear, my take is that the word has been both overused and over-vilified. Furthermore I find the whole discussion silly. That is not a dig, just an opinion.

No, I’m not going to make a big post out of it because I have more important things to do with my life, like trying to keep up with online marketing changes or helping clients with them.  Though I have no false illusion this will be the last I shall hear of it, I have published this unrehearsed, unpolished, slightly grumpy opinion via video. Enjoy. 🙂

Please feel free to disagree and not care. I think we would be hard pressed to not find a few things we agree and disagree on as individuals should we ever meet and I respect others for that.

Background links in no particular order:

Please use #SMEbs to discuss on the twitter. 🙂

Tagged with: • • •

  • Kevin,

    I watched the whole thing and while we don’t agree all the way, I’m glad you put this out there. I frown upon the word, but do think it is over-vilified (although it seems me most of the self-proclaimed experts are some of the worst at using it).

    So, I’m a little confused about point #4 (which you make around the 6:48 mark). You opine that the naysayers and vilifiers of the term are writing blog posts and what-have-you about how they themselves don’t identify as social media experts, but are taking advantage of those keywords and therefore show up on searches for “social media expert”, for example.

    How do you propose one writes a blog post about it without using those words? I’ma go ahead and invoke Godwin’s Law preemptively and use a metaphor. If I blog about going to the Holocaust Museum in DC, I’m probably going to use the word “Nazi”. If my post becomes popular, I may show up on a keyword search for “Nazi”, but that doesn’t mean I am backhandedly wanting to refer to myself as a Nazi.

    CLARIFICATION: With this metaphor, I am by no means comparing social media experts to Nazis.

    (I think Peter Shankman did that already.)

    In a nutshell: If I was writing a post about why I’m not a social media expert, I’m not gonna avoid using the term” social media expert.” That would unnecessarily obfuscate the content of the post, and dance around a subject that should be concise and clear. And if a searcher stumbles upon my post, a cursory read will show them that the intent of my post was not to backhandedly declare myself an expert.

    Unless, of course, you were referring to some other kind of fancy SEO thing that actually *was* being backhanded. I’m not going to defend that. (-:

    Also, I like the random milling about by coworkers in the background. It’s a good thing I don’t work at Cirrus, or else I’d totally be photobombing the shot.

    P.S. I think the guy you’re thinking of, setting a standard for “expertise” is a scientist named K. Anders Ericsson. I can’t entirely remember who referenced him that I read recently, but I want to say it was someone like Jason Fried?

    • Thanks for the comment Andy and the constructive criticism on the video.

      There are people who construct posts utilizing the word “social media expert” in such a way that the only reason they have the phrase in there is to have it show up in search. The post isn’t about social media experts per-say but a fringe topic that allows them to slip it in. To show examples would be to call out people and that isn’t my job, my place or my style. And while I do not pretend to be able to look into the hearts of men, many of the writings smack of deliberate usage for the sake of saying it without calling themselves by it.

      I believe the specific 10000 hour referance, which Craig Crook told me about, was Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point.

      It doesn’t help that I was grumpy and captured it extemporaneously.

  • MALCOLM GLADWELL. I knew it was one of those kind of people with the simple title and big typeface!

  • Thank you, Kevin, for the great, heart-felt post. While I believe there are experts in any field, I’m not fond of one who openly flaunts it. While the word, “expert,” is only a word, we all know words have great impact, and job titles are often sweated over to avoid inaccurate or pompous depictions. What’s really being attacked isn’t so much the word, but the philosophy behind its overt use, along with other titles that conjure the same feelings. If this were simply about a word, I would believe this debate to be silly, too.

    The raging debate is more about con-artists abusing the term, tricking people, and giving the industry a bad name – along with newbies with two weeks experience – promoting themselves as established professionals. It’s also about a lack of humility, as there’s a very different general sentiment if one calls themselves a strategist (which could be anyone on any level of knowledge), vs. an expert. It’s also very different if I consider you an expert, versus you flaunting it yourself (I would disagree with your use, but wouldn’t hold it against you, my friend, because I DO consider you an expert in various web-related fields). Also, I think using the term “social media expert” in an article isn’t necessarily a bad thing regarding SEO attractiveness, and I can understand its practical use. I suppose it just depends on its context.

    Recently, I’ve coincidentally seen similar articles, based on the underlying principles of this argument, in the UX and photography fields. Due to the deeper issues involved, I’m glad to see this debate, and to see so many on various levels talking about it.

    Thanks again, Kev!