By Erika Icon
YNOT EUROPE – With the rise of social media, companies and individuals increasingly find themselves in need of an expert to manage their presence in cyberspace. Social media interaction is necessary, but it’s also time-consuming. Consequently, “social media expert” has become quite the hot career field.
Because there is money to be made in trading on social media expertise, long-time users are looking for ways to set themselves apart as experienced and successful. One way to do that is to claim expert status in their Twitter bio. But since the bio, like tweets, is limited to 140 characters, a challenge resides in creatively expressing one’s status without sounding like everyone else.
Hence, the rise of the manufactured title. In a January check of Twitter bios by Follower Wonk, more than 181,000 users listed themselves as social media gurus, ninjas, masters and mavens. In 2009, only 16,000 people called themselves such titles.
The titles broke down this way earlier this year, according to Adweek:
- 5,555 Social Media Experts
- 9,031 Social Media Consultants
- 18,363 Social Media Gurus
- 20,829 Social Media Evangelists
- 21,876 Social Media Ninjas
- 21,928 Social Media Mavens
Another 174 people used the title “social media whore.”
At 140 characters, Twitter bios are exceptionally short. Still, according to some of those gurus, evangelists and mavens, the bio is the primary way users find new accounts to follow. Twitter bios also are indexed by search engines. Undeniably, they’re important.
Here’s the thing about made-up titles, though: Often, they sound good, but they don’t mean what people think they mean. Take the word “guru,” for example. In the original Sanskrit, the label is a religious designation bestowed upon a person as an honor. The word literally means “teacher.” To bestow the label upon oneself not only dilutes the meaning, but also offends.
Regardless what social media experts call themselves, if you’re considering hiring one, know what to look for to ensure you don’t pay for a service you won’t receive. Ask these questions as you search:
Does the expert bring actual experience to the table? Investigate the expert’s track record and verify the results they claim. Check references.
Does the expert offer real solutions? If you know what you want to achieve before you begin your search, you’ll have a baseline against which to measure the expert’s proposal. Don’t be misled by fancy-sounding ideas or formulaic approaches that may not fit your goals.
Does the expert have a plan for tracking performance? Social media is never a quick fix. Results take time, but they can and should be tracked. Make sure to monitor the expert’s progress and results, being especially leery about massive, sudden increases in follower numbers on Twitter or likes on Facebook. Both can be bought, and purchased fans do nothing for your bottom line. Compare social media activities against revenues to see if the expert’s efforts are returning value for your investment.
Bottom line: People can claim to be anything, but a title is no proof of efficiency or experience. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Take as much care in hiring a social media expert as you would in hiring any other consultant or employee, and insist they perform in measurable ways.
Even though the field is new and remains ill-defined, social media experts do exist. Good luck in finding yours.