There ain’t such thing as a social media expert!” is probably the first thing you thought after reading this headline right? I fully agree! It will take years still before we can really talk about experts in social media. However I am intrigued about what the DNA will be of these people. What will be the combination of knowledge, skills, instincts and experiences such an expert should have?

In order to get a few more views on this other than my own I posed the question on Quora.com  “What in your view needs to be in the DNA of a Social Media Expert?” I received quite a few answers and have tried to include some of the great contributions into this post. Here is a quote from @DawudMiracle that really resonated with me and I believe we should all keep in mind when we think ‘experts’

“no one should give themselves the title ‘expert.’ I think that title is reserved for the audience and clients the social media consultant serves. In this case, it’s the clients who decide if someone is an expert or not. Which ultimately means that an expert doesn’t necessarily have to be the one with more knowledge, tactics and skills than anyone else in the industry. Rather, they have to know more than the market they serve.”

note: in every instance I will say HE in this post, I obviously intend HE/SHE

What’s in the name?

I’d like to approach this from the name “Social Media Expert” and dissect it from these three words we have combined to describe this so much talked about professional.

Social

“The term Social refers to the interaction of organisms with other organisms and to their collective co-existence, irrespective of whether they are aware of it or not, and irrespective of whether the interaction is voluntary or involuntary.” source: WikiPedia

Now its clear that in the case of social media the “organisms”are people (however I did hear about dogs having Facebook pages too these days)

First and foremost the social media expert will need to be somewhat of an anthropologist, who has the patience & curiosity to listen and observe cultures & society at large. Learn how people interact with each other and build insights into the human conditions and what ultimately is motivating people in their doings. He will have an open mind and is open to new experiences and interactions. He will be always traveling and exploring the world to understand and learn more about people and what makes them tick. Last but not least it will be a person who is able to engage in conversations on multiple levels of complexity. Ranging from light and entertaining to more deep and philosophical discussions and knows how to respect and leverage from the people dynamics and cultural differences during any conversation with any audience to ultimately bring his message across.

Media

“In communications, media (singular medium) are the storage and transmission channels or tools used to store and deliver information or data. It is often referred to as synonymous with mass media or news media, but may refer to a single medium used to communicate any data for any purpose.” source: WikiPedia

On the media side he will have deep understanding and years of experience with using both traditional and new media channels. He will know the benefits and purpose of each channel and will know how to orchestrate all of these into one coherent and highly effective media strategy. He will probably be a bit of a geek, as the new media develop at such a rapid pace that he will need to keep up with all the latest media platforms to learn how he will be able to best leverage on these in the future. He will have years of strategic and practical experience in marketing, PR and communications and if at all possible also a politician! A politician because he will have to interface with all of the functions inside an organisation to generate buy-in and orchestrate the roll out of his strategy and make his vision happen.

Expert

“An expert is someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly, justly, or wisely is accorded authority and status by their peers or the public in a specific well-distinguished domain” source WikiPedia

First and foremost he will never see himself as an expert, guru, ninja or anything like that. He will be humble and respectful to the fact that he will never seize to learn. He will be talked about and publicized, won awards and have a great track record he can prove. Both as a practitioner and as a strategist.

Closing digital thought

I do believe however the Social Media Expertise should be embedded into every one of us for it to be effective, regardless which title or function we have within our organisation. Social Media is an extension to whatever field of expertise and we can use these channels of communication to further build relevance and meaning to ourselves, our business and our audiences. The Social Media Experts will need to help all of us get there and orchestrate all of these multiple social tentacles large or small organisations will have (or already have!)

Curious to hear your thoughts on this topic!

Thank you so much to the following people for answering my question on Quora and contributing to this post: @marineltwit @dshiao @DawudMiracle @n3m6 @KacynG @ErikPosthuma @TamaraEeuwes @DeeCommerce @jamiemorgancda @JosueCornier

related links:

Who Else Wants to Be An Expert?
Five Lies About Social Media Marketing
Digital Thoughts