Social Media “Guru”? Really?! Outliers, Advice & Video Silliness!

I had a couple #followfriday and direct messages lately calling me a “Social Media Guru”, or an “expert”. Honestly, it made me a bit uncomfortable, so I decided to share this video and then speak to these over used and rather silly titles:

The bottom line is I am not a Social Media expert or guru! What I am is someone that was fortunate enough to have lived in the music world and was doing “web2.0” marketing from 2000-2004 (before the value of doing so was recognized). To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing then, I just knew it made sense. I was simply trying to garner exposure for my fun little website with a $0 dollar marketing budget. In 2004, Barry Libert bought the company I was a sales executive for and from that point forward my career was transformed. In 2004 I was a Community Manager for Shared Insight (today Mzinga) and in 2007 & 2008 I moved into a Strategic Consulting role with Mzinga. Early 2009 I was laid off and brought what I knew to Authority Domains and their customers. Does my experience make me a “guru” or an overused term on Twitter– “rock star”? No! I say I have been afforded the opportunity to be educated on a fledgling industry and have passed on my experiences to those organizations in need!

With the economy being as it may, it is imperative that you have a strategy to show ROI and create realistic benchmarks for your brands Social presence at the outset. If you don’t, you might be setting yourself up for career suicide. Remember everyone is accountable, so a clear strategy with an identified niche is necessary. If you need help doing this, my suggestion is to go old school and look at a “guru’s” resume (notice I don’t hide my resume?). Unless they lied, the resume will give you a clear indication of just how long they have been in the Social industry. Remember, according to Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers“People don’t rise from nothing,” he writes. “They are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot … It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn’t.” He also goes onto explain “… these statistical “deviants” benefit from their ancestry, their culture and where they live. To this fertile soil add sufficient ability, opportunity and 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.” In other words it takes 10,000 hours to be a “master” of anything-or in this conversation-be a “guru”.  Has Social Media been around long enough for anyone to master it or put 10,000 hours in?

Social Media is still the unmastered and unknown!

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4 responses to “Social Media “Guru”? Really?! Outliers, Advice & Video Silliness!

  • derekshowerman

    I received a couple DM’s and calls on this post. First off, thank you to those of you who have blanketed me with the term guru. I am thankful and humbled. I simply wanted to point out that the terms experts, rock star and guru are thrown around far too easy. There are some that refer to themselves a guru in Social Media simply because they can and do not warrant the title. Like everything, do your research on a person before hiring them.

    Lastly, I wanted to make the point about mastery. I thought Gladwell made a relevant point. Not to mention i hoped to nail home that Social Media is still very new and we all are learning as we go. 🙂 I hope this offers clarity!

    Thank you again to everyone for giving me props and explaining that “guru” is easier then spelling out “Experienced Social Media Consultant or Administrator” within Twitter. Have a great weekend everyone!

  • Mark Wallace

    Derek: I think this is great post. The terms guru and rock star seem to be thrown around an awful lot. Like with anything else, there are people who know their stuff and those who pretend they do to capitalize on hot trends.

    My advice to everyone is do your homework. And, if you cannot find information on them, well………

  • Footprints (08.08.09) | Chris Deary

    […] Social Media “Guru”? Really?! Outliers, Advice & Video Silliness! […]

  • McLaughlin

    I started doing things on the internet in 88 or 89 and in 91/92 I first heard the term ‘internet guru’. Ya know, in 92 when someone was called a guru – it was by his peers and it was like a popular vote by people that knew someone was better than the collective.

    These days I think the word guru just means teacher. I taught my partner how to use twitter, so I am a Twitter Guru, right? Wow, that makes me a driving guru, a math guru, a gardening guru and so on.

    Unfortunately, the phrase has no value anymore and I think people are turned off by its use. If someone wants to impress me, tell me that they are the person that designed the plan that made Dell 3 million on Twitter. Show me the plan that did x with y.

    Social media can be great for business, even a really small business, if used properly. There was a news report about a man in the French countryside that fixed clocks. Something like 75% of his business came from the interent.
    Old guy about to retire.
    French countryside.
    How perfectly un-social media can you get – and he had too much business and there is no one to replace him when he retires. He said that he knew little of the internet, but figured out what he need to know.

    IF he were to teach someone to replace him, that would make him a guru of all the tools he used.

    Sorry /rant but the guru title really turns me off and makes me automatically doubt a person that uses it about themself.

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