Social Media Experts: Why Organizations Need Them

Comments: 2

  • I’m not going to make any friends with this statement, but I’ll say it anyway: I’ve been in the room with lots of ‘social media experts’ (of all kinds) and not one actually knew what he or she was talking about when it came to understanding the organization or what it needed given the context. Sorry, but that’s been my experience. And I’ve worked with lots of orgs, big and small. Anyone who advises orgs nowadays knows ‘social’ on a fairly sophisticated level. The question is how does one use it to help provide solutions that are relevant and scalable?

    You need a business or a domain expert who truly understands technology, information systems, organizational development, product/service innovation + growth strategies and how they intersect. Sometimes you need specialists (like information architects or community builders) who can really dig into a problem or an opportunity, once you’ve understood what it actually is or what it entails. ‘Social media’ doesn’t teach you context — being in the trenches does. Knowing/learning how systems work does. Asking better questions does.

    ‘Social media’ is just a descriptor for a set of approaches to understanding and disseminating information, but is not the essence of what that information represents. ‘Social media’ is not a category! Hence, why the ‘social media expert’ is mostly a false archetype.

  • Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Gunther. I don’t think anything in my post runs contrary to what you’ve stated. As you noted, the types of expertise needed to succeed with digital initiatives are varied and complex. Just as technical (i.e., social media) knowledge without the proper contextual knowledge has limited value, so does functional knowledge without the necessary technical expertise. My post was specifically targeted to individuals and organizational leaders who tend to underestimate the challenges of leveraging social and other digital technologies appropriately. Time and again we’ve seen their efforts fail because they did not properly understand the tools and how they could/should be deployed and managed. The road to “DIY social media success” is littered with failures both small and large.

    In subsequent posts, I have provided guidance for hiring social media experts and managing social media initiatives. Though I would never label social media as “just” anything, I think you’ll find our thinking is very similar. Here are links to each, in case you’d like to read them:

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