At last night’s IABC/Toronto Professional Independent Communicators (PIC) meeting, Anita Windisman did a terrific presentation on LinkedIn. In reviewing the tweets generated during Anita’s session, I noticed a single criticism:
Ppl under 30 aren’t all ‘kids’. Just b/c someone has their MBA doesn’t mean they’re more of a ‘SM expert’ than someone younger #pictips
Let me put this in context. Anita mentioned that she has an MBA and 18 years of marketing and business experience. She made an offhand comment that she’s not a “kid” doing social media training.
[I did not write this down verbatim, but I think I’ve captured the spirit of what she said.]
I’ve always maintained that a social media “expert” is not someone who merely can train you in the mechanics of Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn or GooglePlus or Hootsuite or TweetDeck or whatever. Anyone can learn how to retweet, how to tag, etc. These are necessary skills, but they do not in and of themselves yield business results.
Plenty of my clients attend seminars on social media, then walk away saying, “OK, so now I know how to do the mechanics, but what do I tweet about? Do I have to be on Facebook? Why would I connect with someone on LinkedIn? What do I say? How is this stuff relevant?”
These are important questions about business strategy.
So, yes, one does not need an MBA or any other degree for that matter to be a social media “expert.” [You’ll note I keep putting the word in quotation marks because I’m not sure that the word “expert” is even appropriate.] But I do believe that business people want to work with a marketing specialist or a communications consultant who can help them solve problems, using social media or some other tactic.
In a field as young as social media, there are bound to be many young practitioners. Last year I attended an event where I met one such woman. She described herself as a social media trainer who’d been in business about a year. When I asked her what she’d been doing before then, she said she was a wedding photographer. In fact, she still was.
I’m sure she’d be proficient at explaining how to retweet on Twitter or tag someone on Facebook, but I doubt she’d be able to advise a senior executive on a blogging strategy or a content marketing campaign.
After a decade or so in business, one’s degree is largely immaterial. I don’t think I’ve mentioned my own Masters in Public Administration to a client, with the exception of some of those in the public sector, who like to see consultants with these particular letters after their names.
But business experience is another matter. It’s a prerequisite, in my humble opinion, before one can advise another person.
One’s age is not a prerequisite. Someone can be 40 with two years in business. But I doubt that a 25-year old, unless he’s a prodigy of some kind, could have more than a couple of years of real-life business experience.
I’d love to know what you think. Does a person need business experience to be a social media “expert”?
Please share your thoughts on this. Am I off base?