Are You A Social Media Expert?

Are you a social media expertThe only Facebook company page I ever set up looks the same now as when I left the company three years ago. They’re down to 26 likes. Most are my relatives, who were nice enough to like the page at my request, just to see what happened.

I’m not really a Facebook guy. I have about 100 friends. My Facebook name (please don’t report this TOS violation) is Cousin Barrett. That’s because most of the 100 are cousins, aunts, uncles, other distant relations, people with whom I went to school and whose wedding I was in.

On the other hand, I was using social before it was called social.

I used AOL chat rooms in the early 90s for international soccer discussions and computer advice from Kim Komando.

I became addicted to the BigSoccer.com forums in 2000, and met my virtual soccer buddies in person at World Cup qualifiers.

I toyed with MySpace, had an early Facebook account, killed it (it took months to die), started a new one, and have an average presence on LinkedIn.

I never “check in” anywhere. Foursquare? Forget it. I don’t want people knowing when I’m not home.

I use Google+ but I’m not sure why, though I hear the hangouts are cool.

I have accounts at Instagram, Stumbleupon, Pinterest, YouTube, Flickr, Plaxo, Hootsuite and Jugnoo and probably a few others, but mostly I just dip my toe in.

Spottify? Reddit? Digg?

Who has time for it all?


I love Twitter, but I rarely use it on my iPhone.

I have pals (you know who you are) who have a tough time talking face-to-face because they’re responding to personal and business tweets. They’re building something exciting. But I wouldn’t want to be that tied to my phone.

Then there’s this little blog.

The fact is, social media has embedded itself into my life, and probably yours.


So, do you have to be an “expert” to use it for business? Maybe.

Or maybe it’s the reverse: If you use social media for business, you have a chance to develop expertise.

You don’t need to be certified, verified, validated, endorsed or accredited, though this kind of education can certainly help. You do need to think socially.

Know what you’re trying to accomplish and why. Figure out which social networks and tools best fit your needs. Observe and listen on the networks, and explore the tools.

Look for examples of companies your size or in your industry that do social media well. Find examples that make you feel something, and take a lesson.

Seek the advice of experts, but listen with a pinch of skepticism. Social media as an effective business tool is still in its infancy. Or maybe it’s a toddler.  Best practices are still being developed.


The best way to learn is to do.

A great social media guy in my town, Mike Ellis, wrote this for his Twitter profile: “I’m NOT #SocialMedia guru or expert because I’m not finished learning.” That’s perfect, Mike.

Like I said, it’s been eons in Internet time since I set up a Facebook company page. But I’m planning to do more social for business. I’m not 100% sure about what it will entail. But at this point in history, that’s the beauty of social.

What about your own journey in social media – in your personal life and for business? How long have you been at it? What have you learned? Are you an expert?

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34 thoughts on “Are You A Social Media Expert?

  1. Definitely an expert. I get at least 12 hits on my site a day and they’re big hits at that!

    After you laid out your inventory I did my own check: Blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. That’s it.

    I have been on Facebook (166 “friends”) the longest but I suppose most people will say that.

    My last post was not unlike this one (different angle). My question is always going to be how much do you really need to know to be successful here? You really need to know your business.

    I think you nailed it by saying you need to think and be social. The rest, to me, is an experiment.

    Chris Brogan & Julien Smith just released their new book; The Impact Equation. I read Trust Agents when I first started out which helped me get a sense of what social was about. Like any biz book there is always something you can get from them. That one? Don’t be a douche.

    I hope it’s working. Cheers Barrett.
    Ralph recently posted..Hey Blogger! What are you? A tech savvy geek or what?

  2. I use social primarily for business. I, too, have a personal Facebook profile, but I’m more prone to update my Write Right page than my profile. Priorities… 🙂

    I probably know more than I think I do because I’ve had clients who asked, “How do I do this?” I went and found the answer. Now I know. I’ve also had people point to my work with Write Right as an example of an integrated campaign. I guess it is. I only was doing what made sense, and that’s the only question that guides what platforms and modes of expression I use: Does it make (business) sense?

    Does all that make me an expert? No, and I don’t usually offer advice regarding social media. My interest is in helping people write and tell their stories. While writing and storytelling intersect with social, I tend to partner with someone who is devoted to social media when it comes to specific questions. It’s a way to keep me mindful of what I want to accomplish.
    Erin Feldman recently posted..Death to Busy Work

    • Erin, you have the most important first step nailed – you understand your goal. I’d be interested to learn about your long-term goal and how social media fits in. Is it helping and how? How important is it to your plan? Not that I have the answers… I’m just curious about your approach.
      barrett recently posted..Are You Smart Enough For Marketing?

  3. I’ll never finish learning:) I’ve been on “social” for 20 months now. My original goal? To simply stop self-editing my writing. My blog was set up for that purpose, and I’m happy to say: mission accomplished.

    Then there were the heady days of fun, fast and furious learning. Every day was an adventure: new knowledge, new people, new shiny objects.

    Now, it’s reality time, and I need to seriously consider: why am I doing what I’m doing?

    I’ve cultivated a wonderful community of friends, colleagues and associates. I’m writing as fast as my fingers can type (or my pen can move across paper:) But I’m also a little fatigued and some days, frustrated.

    Time for a new chapter. I will continue to write. My FB biz page doesn’t do squat for me, but I continue on with it. I have fun with my FB profile page. I’m on google+, but not consistently: same goes for LinkedIn. Twitter is regular, especially with triberr. BUT…I now need to move toward connecting with more of my customer/ potential customer base. I don’t want to lose my online friends, but I do want to tweak my reach. It starts now:) Cheers! Kaarina P.S. I listen to Kim Komando too!
    Kaarina Dillabough recently posted..What are your Foundational Pillars?

  4. You’re an awesome writer and I so enjoy whatchugot. You’ve basically summarized everyone’s journey at some point in time. When G+ and Pinterest hit, I groaned, and said, OHNO, not another community to build.

    And, when everyone was playing Empire Avenue to see how much $$ they could buy/sell themselves for, I staunchly refused to get in that crap. Smart move as I hear no one there now.

    At the end of the day, Little Bloggers Rule; just like you kindly shared above. My point being…don’t ever forego the blog; it’s your ticket.
    Jayme Soulati recently posted..Does Your Blog Have Spinach In Its Teeth?

    • Jayme, thanks for the kind words.

      Yep, I also groaned about the announcement of this or that new social network or tool. They keep trying to raise the bar on us, don’t they? The blog is a fantastic social tool with lots of benefits – witness the great gang of folks who show up to chip in with a thought and a kind word. I would and use it somewhat differently when I change my business plan. Which will probably happen soon, because change is good.
      barrett recently posted..Taking Social Media By The Horns, Where You Live

      • Darn, I already commented, but I’m back to comment again ‘cuz I love this post. Did you know we’re in the post-social media adoption phase? It’s over; either you’re in or you’re playing catch up.

        Too bad for the companies waiting for the broken heel; social media is here to stay and everyone needs to jump on board.

        Your list reads a lot like mine, Barrett! But, I know the value of engagement after almost 4 years of daily interaction. The post I share here from yesterday speaks to the malaise of those who’ve been around awhile, too.
        Jayme Soulati recently posted..Fixing The Social Media Plateau

  5. Hi Barrett,

    Great post! As soon as I saw the title I was intrigued to hear your opinion because I too am always learning and would never consider myself to be an expert. There’s always more to learn – especially with social media!

    I think expert status is all about perspective. Anyone that has not yet invested the time in social media would see us all as experts. However, if we were in a room with Chris Brogan and Brian Solis I’m sure our expert status would become much more humble.

    Regardless, great post and thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. I can relate. Reminds me of the rant I went on last year when Google+ rolled out (you can read it here: http://ow.ly/eLuq3 ). A lot of folks have social media fatigue, and every time we read a new article about why we should be on THIS platform or how such-and-such business kicked ass with THAT platform, a tinge of guilt kicks in and we figure we owe it to ourselves and our clients to go spelunking into that new cavern.

    Your advice, though is dead on. It’s not about platforms, it’s about content. Find platforms that work for you and go for it, without the Fear Of Missing Out on the next big thing. Can’t live without Twitter? Knock yourself out. Think Pinterest is a waste of time for everyone but die-hard Hello Kitty fans? That’s cool.

    There are a lot of ways to do social media right, though not many pundits will tell you that. The key (as you so eloquently stated) is to have the ‘social mindset.’ Focus on content first. Is this sharable? Does it solve something? Does it add value in the eyes of the reader/viewer?
    Mickey Lonchar recently posted..Did it sell Red Bull? Or just plain Bull?

    • “Social media fatigue” — yes, absolutely! I love social media, and I’m fascinated by it. But when I hear about the new lastest must-have social media thing sometimes I want to scream.

      I want to hear more about business objectives, customer needs and desires, the value our brands offer and our brand personality and the competition. In other words, how to make an impact in our customers’ busy lives. But I’m a marketing geek, not a social media geek. (I have a sneaky suspicion you are too… or maybe it’s not so sneaky…)
      barrett recently posted..5 For The Weekend, Vol. 7

  7. Hey Barrett

    I had a Friends Reunited account way back in the day (and still do). I’m not sure if you have that, maybe Classmates is something similar.

    Other than that Facebook was what I started with. I have a personal account but use it less and less these days. I am terrible for not updating my business page. I tend to spend more time on Twitter and Google+ these days.

    I use Twitter and Google+ to let people know about the things I’ve been reading and hopefully introduce them to inviting places to visit other than my place!

    I’m no expert but I’ll certainly try and help anyone with anything I can or find a man or woman who can if not.
    Tim Bonner recently posted..Are You Real Or Are You A Fake?

    • Oh good, you’re going to let people know about this post on G+? 🙂

      It’s interesting to see all these people who have a similar trajectory on social media. Eventually we become very well versed in the things we uses, for business and otherwise. You’ve developed expertise in some narrowly defined area. You sure could help people in those areas, even if you don’t feel like an expert.
      barrett recently posted..From Sales, A Marketing Lesson

  8. Ironically, I wrote about this very topic this week! I think the moniker of “social media expert” is far overplayed. Most people who say they are understand the tools, but may not get how social media fits into an overall business strategy or how it will impact the bottom line. So, I think it’s less important to be a social media expert and more important to be a good communicator and strategist. The tools can be learned. THe other stuff is much harder.

    That’s just my two cents!
    Laura Click recently posted..How to Use Social Media to Get More Testimonials for Your Business

  9. Am I a social media expert? After owning a social media agency for three years, and co-authoring three books that made it into the major bookstores, I’d say, yes, I’m an expert.

    The whole “I’m not an expert because I’m not done learning” excuse is bogus. My doctor or lawyer better not be done learning, but they damn well better be an expert when I go under the knife or have to trust one in the courtroom.

    Why is social media the last bastion of the real world that people refuse to be an expert? We have experts in every other facet of the business world, why not social media?
    Erik Deckers recently posted..How the FDA Lost Our Trust During the Meningitis Outbreak

    • Erik, I’m glad you commented.

      I think everyone acknowledges that there are experts among us.

      I also think people “refuse to be an expert” because we’re still new at this game. At what point does someone become an expert?

      I was in advertising for a long time. I’ve met lots of ad agency people who are successful at creating campaigns that are impressive on one level, but fail to produce results. As an industry, we became experts at shifting blame: The product wasn’t right, the distribution sucked. Well, who the heck recommended the multi-million dollar media spend for the bad product? People who no doubt thought of themselves as experts.

      I checked out your site and it looks like you guys do some interesting stuff. I’d like to hear case studies that include the client’s business objectives, how you used social media to support those objectives, and how social media integrated with or replaced the rest of the marketing or communications plan. I’d like to hear about client endorsements and results.

      I hope you’ll respond and continue the discussion. I’m very interested in your point of view.
      barrett recently posted..Dave Martin, Founder Of The Martin Agency

    • Because Barrett doesn’t have a way to like your comment (maybe that’s a good thing) I am forced to leave a comment. I read your post about “social jokes”. Very funny.

      You book with Jason Falls is on my shelf and I have had it for a while. It’s time to start reading it now. I could use a little less BS in my social media life. Cheers Erik.
      Ralph recently posted..Hey Blogger! What are you? A tech savvy geek or what?

    • You’re right, Erik. It’s okay to call yourself an expert if you really have the knowledge and expertise. But, I think the reason many shy away from using the word is because there are plenty of pretenders who claim to be “gurus” without any real ability to back it up. When everyone says they’re an expert, who should people believe?

      I agree that the “I’m not done learning” argument is bogus. Yet, the comparison with doctors and lawyers isn’t right either. After all, they have to get certain degrees, pass scores of exams, keep up their licence and follow ethics rules. None of that applies to the social media space. So, we’re left with the wild, wild west where everyone proclaims to be the sheriff in town.
      Laura Click recently posted..How to Use Social Media to Get More Testimonials for Your Business

  10. I know most of the people who have left a comment through social media. I have heard of all the sites you mentioned and belong to them all. I read blogs.

    Despite Facebook having one billion regular users, most of the public, even the FB users, don’t really understand social media. Most people don’t read blogs. Most people don’t tweet or understand the value.

    I’d wager that every single person who left a comment, if tested, would be in the top 2% of the population with regards to understanding of social media, the platforms, how they’re used, and why they’re useful.

    Mensa requires that one have an I.Q. in the top 2% of the population (above 135), which is also the definition of genius (another word for expert, I’d say).

    We may not call ourselves experts, for one reason or another, but if 100 random people from the general population were to gather in a room and questions were asked about the world of social media, we would be able to answer.

    So, I say yes. I may not write a book about social media (giggles…okay, I probably will), but everyone here is still well ahead of the curve on this subject.

    I heard one guru say, “If you know one more thing than everyone else in the room, you’re the expert.” I like that.
    Brian D. Meeks (@ExtremelyAvg) recently posted..Indian Summer

  11. Love your comment Brian! I will quibble: Just because you’re a genius, or even if you’re very smart in some way, or very well educated, you’re not necessarily an expert. Some people are overly impressed with their intellect. I can name about 535 people who reside in the Washington DC vicinity who continually make a mess of things. In my expert opinion.

    In social media for business, there’s more to understand than the “media” part. There’s the “social” part, and the “business” part (as Laura Click noted above). That’s a lot of responsibility if you want to be a professional. Either that, or be very clear about what you’re an expert in.

    I agree with you 100% — most everyone reading, writing and commenting on blogs (especially the somewhat specialized business/social media/communications blogs most of us are associated with) know more than the average Joe. But you know what they say about a little knowledge.
    barrett recently posted..Why We Don’t Plagiarize

  12. Hi Barrett,

    Learn by doing is my motto. It is why I started vlogging, I wasn’t real familiar with how YouTube worked on the production side and figured I should learn how.

    There is merit and value in knowing how the various platforms work and then there is having enough sense to figure out which are effective and for you and which aren’t.

    I suppose it all ties back into determining what your goals/objectives are and building a road map to help you achieve them.
    Josh recently posted..An Open Letter To Sir Richard Branson

    • Josh, I love how you take command of your situation. Just like your “Open Letter To Sir Richard Branson” post, which I just read. I love the quote you pulled from Sir Richard. “Trying things—even if you fall flat on your face—is more important than not trying at all.”

      It might even make you an expert, huh?

  13. Hi Barrett,

    Maybe it does. 😉

    I think Gretzky is the guy who said “we miss 100% of the shots we don’t take.” I am most concerned with compiling a list of accomplishments and less about titles.

    That is not because I am inordinately humble or have no ego, but because if I do what I set out to accomplish the titles will come with it.

    There is a lot of joy in the journey and I like to try to enjoy the adventure that comes with all of this.

    This social media world fascinates me, I love how it puts us in contact with so many interesting people.
    Josh recently posted..Does Your Blog Need A Mission Statement?

  14. AOL Chat Rooms were so much fun! I kind of miss those. I can’t think of anything that’s really replaced them totally. Twitter, Facebook, etc. just aren’t the same.

    I’m spread pretty thin, though some sites resonate with me more than others. Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Pinterest are where I spend most of my time. I like to visit other blogs a lot too. And Triberr is kind of a social media site of its own now.

    I agree with you, I don’t think you can be all things to all SM sites. Finding your niche is a great idea…until it closes. 😉
    Carolyn recently posted..SkyMotion – Never Get Caught in the Rain Again!

    • Carolyn, sorry for the belated reply. AOL chat rooms were so much fun because of the novelty and excitement of it all. You were actually exchanging thoughts (and sometimes insults, as I recall) through a whole new kind of mysterious network thingy. For me, there was a nervousness about it all that will never be replicated because it was totally, completely new.
      barrett recently posted..Social Media Automation: Yea, or Nay?

  15. I’ve been using Twitter for a couple of years now. I’d hesitate to call myself an expert at it, but I’ve certainly learned a hell of a lot.

    And the more I learn, the more I realize that there is so much more to learn. It’s such a brilliantly conceived site that the possibilities are endless.

    • I agree, it’s brilliant — brilliant in its simplicity, which just invites imaginative uses. I think Twitter has a lot of depth to it, but it’s easy to get up to speed.

      Thanks for stopping by and for commenting, Matt.

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