What Does An Expert Know?

by Jay Deragon on 02/01/2009

In a previous post titled “What Are Social Media Jobs” we discussed the growth in demand of companies looking for “social media managers and experts”. Given the increase in demand for people who appear to understand all this social stuff we thought it may be helpful to examine what is required to become known as a “social media expert”.

First we need to define an expert. An expert is known as 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. An expert, more generally, is a person with extensive knowledge or ability in a particular area of study. An expert can be, by virtue of training, education, profession, publication or experience, believed to have special knowledge of a subject beyond that of the average person, sufficient that others may officially (and legally) rely upon the individual’s opinion. Historically, an expert was referred to as a sage. The individual was usually a profound philosopher distinguished for wisdom and sound judgment.

What Does A Social Media Expert Know?

It seems that everyone claims to be a social media expert. Some claim to have technical expertise while others claim to be strong at community building. If you read the above definition of “expert” one may conclude that few could actually achieve the status of “expert” given the short history of social technologies. Consider the following which has happened in a relatively short period of time:

  1. There are over 100,000 social technology applications available today and growing daily
  2. There are thousands of communities formed around every kind of niche and subject matter you can imagine
  3. There are millions of blogs and growing daily
  4. There are millions of new blog post and Tweets initiated daily
  5. There are thousands of blog themes with built in social tools available and most at a cost of zero

So anyone considered an expert today has to have an extensive knowledge or ability in using all this social stuff and has keen insights beyond that of an average person. Keep in mind that the average person has no clue what social media is and if you used terms like wikis, social commerce, social capital and social media they would think you are some expert since they have no idea what your referring to. Thus one may conclude that anyone with any knowledge about all this social stuff could be called an expert.

As the definition says “An expert can be, by virtue of training, education, profession, publication or experience, believed to have special knowledge of a subject beyond that of the average person”. Currently there is little formal training about all this social stuff. There are lots of people engaged in the medium as a profession and hundred’s who have written formal publications based on their experience with all this social stuff. It seems safe to say that becoming an expert is a work in progress and the knowledge is dynamic rather than static.

Like with any new market there is a lot of “sales pitches” aimed at sounding like an expert but designed to dazzle you with buzz words rather than educate you with meaningful knowledge.

Many of the social media “experts” can share with you how to build a blog, use social networks, but few understand the human dynamics of “how to create” attention, attraction, affinity and audience around your business proposition. Many still believe that applying old marketing methods using new technology works. You don’t have to be an expert to know it doesn’t!

The art of using social technology is the critical element required to formulate expertise. Developing the “art” of social media comes over time when one focuses on human interaction centric to conversations that are relevant to specific subject matters which enhances people and business. One last point: An expert is one who transfers their expertise so you can become your own expert. An expert knows how to transfer their knowledge, experience and wisdom to others.

Choose your experts wisely. What say you?

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Erin Andrews Video January 2, 2010 at 11:14 am

Great Blog I love the lay out and the color scheme is it possible to get a copy of your theme? Please send me an email at [email protected]

Thieme Hennis December 15, 2008 at 5:59 am

First of all.. I like your blog

Secondly. I like your focus on the ability to transfer expertise. Maybe this is then the difference between expertise and competence. Someone who knows how to fix a car, does not necessarily be able to communicate that, if he can just fix a car. Useful if he wants to employ someone who does it for him, but not necessarily from the perspective of someone with a broken car.

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