Who is a senior social media expert?

I have read lots of different blogs about individuals and also larger companies where they title themselves as senior in social media. Not “product marketing”, nor “brand management”, only everything “social media”. I find this fascinating! So I started to do some research on a number of companies and individuals promoting or selling social media services.

Doing 1 year 5 times vs. having 5 years experience

The whole concept contradicts it self! Can you get senior anymore in any subject related to the Internet? The concept of adding age or time doesn’t really add value anymore. For example; I always had statements like “at least 5 years of C++ programming in Windows API” in the ads I used to hire people. It gave me assurance that they knew the subject and had worked with it for a long time. This is only valid iff (if and only if) the time is spent on a subject fairly constant. Coming back to my example, if the windows API and the C++ language changed 5 times during the 5 years experience, well you have 1 years experience 5 times. Which is not really what I was looking for!

Same analogy goes to the social media segment. If what you offer is really “tool-knowledge” means you are really good at Facebook, twitter, Google+ etc. you are really not working with marketing. You are only working with the tools of marketing. These tools will change and the meta-experience built will not be as valuable anymore, there will always be people knowing the next tool better. Also, your so-called experience with these tools is very seldom more than 6 month!

The actual value is in your knowledge of: Marketing, sales, product positioning, brand management & the customers

Regardless of the tools and the environment of “social media” many companies and people confuse the importance of knowledge that goes in to sales and marketing. Just the huge number of people offering “social media marketing” speaks for it self. Just a small fraction of these people know anything about marketing. They find the tools easy to use.

My experience this far is, if you need to market your business using “social media”; find a company that does other types of marketing where social media is on part of it.

Sometimes! The “social media” experts are like window display designers. Nice display, no real marketing value!

Looking forward to your comments, I know the blogs tone and content is a bit sharp!


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15 Responses to Who is a senior social media expert?

  1. Viktor Nagornyy July 8, 2011 at 19:17 #

    Finally made it over to your blog =) Added to my Reader.

    It’s funny isn’t it? Many online marketers focus on tools way too much, hence losing grasp on ROI and saying it’s “hard to measure it” especially for social media.

    It really isn’t. Tools facilitate your marketing efforts, but you have to have marketing objectives to know what you are doing. Online marketers need to come back to the marketing basics to be able to measure their efforts, have a game plan, and be effective no matter what tools you use.

    Thanks for the great reminder about the industry.

    • Shahram July 8, 2011 at 19:20 #

      Thank you Viktor for your comment.
      I fully agree that marketing and ROI is the basics and people should keep that in focus. Social Media is just another media to work with. Even if it is a special media with a huge power and potential.


  2. James Cordeiro July 5, 2011 at 10:16 #

    Senior in Social Media must mean they were an early adopter of social media to get a feel and complete understanding of the psychology behind users online. They must know how they tick, why, what grabs attention, what does not, what provides CTR, and ROI, etc.. etc.. oh, and they must also have been one of the first on AIM and ICQ evolving to tribe.net,
    linkedin and of course the dreaded friendster 😉

    I wrote this while reading, after writing I need to define something, that just happens to be social media marketing. It does NOT matter what tool you are using or which social network. Yes, you can still be an expert if you haven’t jumped into G+. Marketing, is turning viewers and visitors into a sale. Social Media, are the people you are reaching out to in order to accomplish this task. Marketing, is converting a viewer into a sale! period. No tool does this for you, it is the marketing expert that reaches out in social media and acquires these individuals based on a marketing plan. Such as, who is the target audience, age, demographics, what are their interests, are they discussing subjects related to my product and/or service – similar to the #UsGuys stream on Twitter – it’s connecting to an audience of similar nature. If you are selling a product/service about woman shoes, your not going to go into any social media tool and talk about books! You want to, need to, and should be seen as an expert in the field of shoes to gain the social media exposure you are looking for in order to offer what you want to offer. *NOTE* No I do not know why I used shoes as an example, never mind why I used women shoes

    I completely agree about the social media segment, many bloggers and so called gurus explain or say they are professionals in the industry of social media marketing, but, have no experience for clients and any clients they have done work for did not see a return on the investment, or have no results to show. The thing with social media, professionals are most of the book educated search engine optimization and search engine experts who purchased ebooks and other online content from 2004+

    These book educated, can also be considered the same as the “tool educated”. Just because they can use a tool well, does not necessarily mean they can convert the people connected in the tool into a sale. If I tried to sell *here we go* women shoes in the #UsGuys stream, I could hit a market since some of the audience is women! my conversion rate would be low, now, what If I find a stream all about women, and have a women in social media marketing go communicate, become involved, talk about shoes, be happy and all about shoes, then 1 day out of the blue she happens to say, hey, I got new beautiful red womens shoes *dont ask why I use the color red*, they happen to be on sale, if anyone is interested click “here” … now, I’ve connected to an audience, become involved, they know me (*me being a women right now*), they love me, we get along, and now guess what, they know I sell shoes!

    I agree with “if you need to market your business using “social media”; find a company that does other types of marketing where social media is on part of it.” I do have clients which hire me specifically for social media, however, their is always more to it! – more that needs to be added or combined for results to actually take effect. You can not correctly utilize social media as the only marketing, this also goes for search engine optimization and many other marketing methods. A real marketing plan is strictly required for any social presense! 🙂

    • Shahram July 6, 2011 at 07:44 #

      Thank you James for your comment. It is both interesting and insightful. The fairly low threshold of getting into social media has made it easy for people with very little knowledge to call them selves CEOs of one man companies in social media.
      I specially liked this part
      – “Marketing, is converting a viewer into a sale! period. No tool does this for you, it is the marketing expert that reaches out in social media and acquires these individuals based on a marketing plan”
      If your goal is marketing and sales using Social Media, well as you say, it is nothing more then sales. Social Media is just another media to be used!

  3. Dfewgoodmen July 5, 2011 at 07:10 #

    Social media is the in thng. Everybody appears to be a “expert”. However I don’t believe Social media prowess easily translates to marketing skills. That’s another ball game all together. This is a well written article. And it’s okay that you sound this alarm soon enough.

    • Shahram July 5, 2011 at 07:44 #

      Thank you Ovie for you comment. I agree that marketing and social media is really not the same thing and they do require different skill sets. However, it is the skills, the value and know-how and not “how to set up a facebook” account that makes social media marketing.

      Always good to get comments from people with knowledge.


  4. Jesse Oguns July 4, 2011 at 15:08 #


    I have often said it too. Social Media is a TOOL, that can be explored. Experiment with it and see how you can set resonable goal and see what social media tools can be used to achieved the goal.

    Using social media as a marketing too is not as simple as it seem. There are things you cannot measure with number, but are very vital to building business. How do you kow how much someone loves your brand on twitter? RTs? Hell no! Following? Hell no!!! I follow some Brands just to see how they use social media.

    There is a need for the fundamental understanding of marketing principle, in addition to keeping in step with how social media which is always changing as Susan admitted.

    Thanks for the piece 😉

    • Shahram July 4, 2011 at 15:32 #

      Thank you Jesse for your comment. I agree fully with you and it is always good to have confirmation on thoughts that pop-up!

  5. Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu July 3, 2011 at 21:36 #


    Really wonderful points that go to some of the core of social media marketing positioning. And you do well to point out that there are two skills or mindsets necessary to carry out the “social” and the “marketing” in social marketing. But at least from my experience, I can’t say that I agree wholeheartedly with your recommendation:

    “My experience this far is, if you need to market your business using “social media”; find a company that does other types of marketing where social media is on part of it.”

    I see why you say this (they need a marketing perspective), but what I have found is that a lot of older marketing companies have simply stuck on a “social media” branch to their offerings, but still don’t get it. Impression hunting, and other marketing metrics are part of the social marketing tool box, but the real essence of what makes social marketing different is something that a lot of companies with a deep marketing background simply are never going to understand. You want marketing ends (ROI, actionable, trackable traffic), but how you go about it is utterly and completely different. At large, I am actually wary of marketers who have added social media. It is like Google doing social, it can be something that they just don’t “get”.

    I’m not saying this exclusively is the case. But it is at the very least a second point of view to your thought.

    • Shahram July 3, 2011 at 22:45 #

      Thank you Kevin for your comment. It is always good to read other peoples opinion about things you feel passionate about. I agree fully with about the value of marketing that you mention; RIO, trackable traffic etc. I am as well looking forward to the result of Google and other companies “trying” to squeeze themselves into Social Media.

      Thank you again for the comment,

    • Steve Birkett July 4, 2011 at 00:51 #

      Though I agree that there are plenty of organizations with traditional marketing hats on when they enter the social media space, I don’t believe that will equate to them never getting it….at least not all.

      We’re all living the development of these media every day, so it can be frustrating to see it polluted with broadcast marketing, obsession with traditional metrics, and flat out spam. But as the more dynamic organizations learn and adapt to the expectations we now have of them, I think they’ll get better at using the tools in an appropriate manner. Not all, of course, but I have hopes for some of the more flexible orgs.

  6. susanborst July 3, 2011 at 19:38 #

    Great post. Thank you. As an analogy: My father was one of the early computer graduates at Yale many moons ago – back in the day of card punch (yes, card punch!) Technology changed so much and so fast that all that his fine education was quickly obsolete. He ended up switching gears to engineering and accounting. Think this is similar to digital/social media today…how can anyone proclaim to be a true “expert” in something that can – and does – change overnight? What relevance does having 10 years of digital experience mean when 10 years ago digital basically meant websites and static banner ads? I totally agree with you that a solid core marketing foundation is the only way to put social media in true perspective in today’s digital landscape.

    • Shahram July 3, 2011 at 20:43 #

      Thank you for your comment. It is great to get confirmation on thoughts that hits you and keeps coming back.
      BTW, I used to work for Ericsson and we had a card punch for the fun of it.

  7. Steve Birkett July 3, 2011 at 07:54 #

    I think you raise an important point here, Shahram. Social media expertise is increasingly seen as a foolish statement to make, as it references tools. Moreover, tools that are changing from week to week! If someone is a social media expert this week but hasn’t jumped into Google+ yet, can they still be an expert next week?!

    The important thing for people recruiting for social media positions or looking for help with social networks is to focus on the underlying skills of those they hire. Is it marketing experience needed? Or communication skills? These are areas for which people can offer examples of their successes in previous positions and potentially transfer those abilities to be used with the tools of social media.

    Interesting thoughts, thanks for the piece!

    • Shahram July 3, 2011 at 07:58 #

      Thank you for the comment. I agree about what type of skills do we need? Marketing or communication. I guess getting references is getting more and more important.

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