Where Are The Experts?

The people on the leading edge of social media have, in general, avoided referring to themselves as experts. It’s partly due to modesty, and partly because everyone who calls themselves an “expert” gets widely mocked as a douchebag in the social media egosystem.

DouchebagI got a trackback today from a post by Marc Meyer, noting that “if I do a search for a social media expert, I may not be able to find one.” His post looks at the top ten Google results for “social media expert” and notes that only one is someone calling themselves an expert. The rest (including my own post on experts) are somewhat sceptical of people describing themselves as such.

Marc makes a fair point – there is a dearth of useful results when you look for people to help with your social media experts. That makes the selection process for companies all the more important, and was part of the reasoning behind my aforementioned post – you need to know the right questions to ask or you end up signing a contract for snake oil.

With that said, a few months ago I started to wonder when it’s going to be ok to start calling yourself an “expert.” People in other fields do, and social media has been around in an evolving form for ten years or so now. When will it be acceptable?

Part of the problem is that those of us who spend a lot of time thinking about social media and other thoughts of digital PR don’t want to position ourselves in the same pot as the plethora of jonny-come-lately self-entitled “experts” who have come crawling out of the woodwork recently.

Too many “experts” have built their egos on the back of their own “personal brands” but there’s a big difference between marketing yourself and marketing a corporation with stakeholders and competitors. Meanwhile, those of us who are looking to differentiate ourselves have taken to leading by offering advice instead of ego, and letting others judge if we know what we’re talking about.

To answer Marc’s point, here are some of the people I consider to be experts in the field of social media communications. I read their posts, in many cases I’ve met them in person and they’re doing the things that many other people only talk about.

These people aren’t necessarily the most prolific bloggers, but when they write, I read. When they speak, I listen… and their thoughts help me form my opinions, whether I agree with them or not:

Who do you regard as an expert?

Image credit: Marc Randazza

Dave Fleet
EVP Digital at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.