Social Media: It’s Not About You, It’s About Your Customers

_MG_2383The last couple of weeks has seen some volatile debate on social media, on clubs, inclusion and exclusion. Under the surface of this debate lies the question of ownership and expertise – who qualifies as an expert, who has a voice and where the rules of engagement. I have even been mentioned in the discussion.

I was going to respond with a post of my own, but found that Greg Verdino sums up my view perfectly (it’s worth reading the whole post):

If you pay attention to what the marketing blogosphere buzzes about, you have probably noticed that a number of people have been debating what qualifies someone to be a social media 'expert.' Is it personal experience or a long list of client case studies?  Is it the title on your business card or some vague blurb in your Twitter bio?  Does simply being "born digital" (whatever that means) make you an expert?  Or given that today's social tools are so new and the rate of change so fast, does it even make sense to call anyone a social media expert?

I've been following the debate and gritting my teeth, holding back on adding my two cents.  But, generally speaking, my question is "who cares?"


Who cares what defines social media expertise? And why are we even devoting digital ink to answering that question?

The only think I would really add to this, is to remember that social media is not about you. It’s about your clients and their customers. It’s about finding win-win outcomes for products and services and the people who use and consume them. All the rest is insignificant.

10 thoughts on “Social Media: It’s Not About You, It’s About Your Customers

  1. For the record, we at Undercurrent, make a point of not referring to ourselves as social media experts. Not only is it over used and ill-defined, but how can anyone be an expert in something that’s still so new? Undercurrent actively avoids using the term social media at all, because it’s lost so much of its meaning.
    As for being born digital, here’s what it means to us:
    Born Digital is a term we use to describe an exploding segment of society that is defined by a symbiotic relationship to digital technology. Born Digitals are the people who are constantly relying on the internet and mobile devices to access information, to communicate with each other, to entertain themselves, to organize social action, and to document their lives. They are also powering everything that the internet has to offer by constantly contributing their ideas, opinions, and knowledge to the network. As recently as a few years ago this segment was assumed to be a subset of the youth demographic; now, however, it is quickly permeating all ages of the general population. Born Digital no longer describes a native familiarity with digital technology, but rather a common behavior and mindset in which digital technology plays a pervasive and integrated role in our day-to-day living.

  2. Hey Gavin
    I would say it only matters to a degree. When someone claims that they can get you tons of traffic or what not to a client or in an interview and can’t.. then it matters.
    Otherwise, I don’t call myself one either. I love the sector or area that it plays in. I try to teach people what I know, read about and learned but don’t go to far from that.

  3. I have to disagree with your last comment Gavin. social media is about you, but it’s not only about you. we are choosing these channels not just to execute campaigns but as a personal community of interest. particularly in the example of SMC where we are choosing how we want to share this interest with each other. and if you don’t choose to have an input, how can it even begin to meet your expectations?
    i think if anyone decides to extol the virtues of social media, they have to let go of the idea that there is a right way and a wrong way. there will certainly be more effective ways of building a brand or converting a sale however the intimate and personal nature of social media will mean more than ever that it is impossible to try and replicate success through a stock standard template to suit all categories. what’s wrong for you might be so very right for someone else. and if the aim is to connect on a one-to-one basis, that means there can be no overall idea of wrong.
    i think anyone claiming to know all about such an evolving concept has just demonstrated how unworthy they are of the term expert. if i were a successful and experienced social media consultant i would hope that my work would conjure descriptions like innovator or thought leader instead. in the meantime i am more than likely to value the word of a social media student than an expert as at least they acknowledge that they are still learning.
    i’m looking forward to the upcoming SMC event in Sydney. i hope that the sessions are more than just sitting down and listening to someone talk for 20 mins with a q&a session at the end. if it isn’t, i’ll try and get involved to see if the next meeting can be of more value to me. if it still doesn’t resonate with me then i’ll find something else that does. and if it does hit the spot for me then i’d be more than happy to throw in a few dollars if it meant getting better facilities, access to better resources or spirits behind the bar (cough!). i know events don’t just happen especially for free.

  4. Indeed, why are we even debating this social media expertise issue? If someone calls themselves an expert, on anything, they’re probably not. Kind of like, people who say, “Trust me” are likely not to be trusted. If you have to say it…
    I guess we’re just seeing the rise of expertise experts.

  5. I think the reason why ‘experts’ are taken at face value, is because of a dangerous cocktail of the gold rush (brand rush?) mentality, combined with a sense of confusion about what to do.
    Enter, the self appointed ‘expert’ who shows you the way. One of the worst examples of this I’ve seen recently is a bespoke Twitter agency being set up telling brands how to do Twitter:

  6. Sometimes I shake my head at the number of issues, debate and comment that don’t relate back to tried and true marketing theory. I once wrote on Adam Ferrier’s blog that as far as I know these theories have never been disproven.
    As such, I found myself thinking of “value” and the relation of social media experts to this. My answer is the same as your, “who cares”.
    It is irrelevant what your business card calls you or what the blogosphere thinks you should be called because at the end of the day you need to be able to 1) communicate your value to a client or employer and the 2) deliver value.
    Don’t over complicate it with “fluff” that doesn’t make you a better marketer.

  7. Oh, boy, I couldn’t agree with you more. I intentionally avoided weighing in with a perspective on the topic because frankly I don’t feel I’m qualified–It’s only been one year that I’ve been blogging, using social networks and media, creating content, etc. And I’ve primarily been involved on a personal level, with two relatively minor client projects under my belt. But maybe that is in fact enough of a pedigree to say–what does it matter? A carpetbagger is a carpetbagger–there will always be victims and posers. And there will always be quality, reputable companies that generate strong results. As with any purchase or commitment, due diligence (including research, reference checking, etc.) is required. Those with experience and skill can see through those blowing vapor–so unless names are being named, what is the point in ambiguous chatter?
    Maybe Jason Falls said it best:

  8. Just the last point you made that I have trouble with. I guess I believe that Social Media is about the whole ecosystem. It’s about you and your customer, win-win comes from finding balance (and maybe not rushing towards free as a solution.)
    So many ‘experts’ talk about listening being the point of entry to social media, especially the twitterverse. I have found it pretty enlightening to see companies start to talk. social media rewards investment and win-wins, brand that get on board and just corp-speak end up attracting no, or negative feedback. It’s a harsher lesson to learn, but ultimatley harder to ignore than the un-focus group available by watching buzz metrics.

Comments are closed.