How to Deal with Experts

originally posted on Concept Hub

A little over a year ago a friend of mine was encouraging me to be a little more controversial in my writing. There were debates going on in the social media-verse that I had strong opinions about, but chose to stay out of the conversations.

One of those debates was related to the use of the word “expert” especially in regards to someone claiming to be a social media expert. I am of the opinion that there are people who have chosen to focus on the study of social media and how it impacts business and society, therefore work to make social media their “expertise.” I also know that when you are in front of people who want to hear about your  knowledge and experience or are willing to pay you for your “expert” opinion, it does not give them any comfort to hear you shy away from the word “expert.”

Although I felt I had good points I still chose to stay out of the debate. However I was very pleased to see Shel Holtz’s article claiming that It’s time for the anti-social media guru meme to die.

With all that said, it is still incredibly important that brands and organizations not pay good money for the advice of a person who claims to be an expert. Here are 3 ways to deal with an expert, social media or otherwise.

1. Do not buy anything you do not understand.

When I was a teen, my dad and brother taught me enough about cars that I can hear a noise and know what the problem could be. Otherwise, I could be out on my own with a minor belt squeaking and get charged for a whole new transmission.

Know enough about social media to know what you want to do with social media. If a consultant or agency tries to sell you on all the things social media can do, ask questions, ask for case studies, and ask about the roles your organization will have to play for success.

2. Know what you need an expert for.

Social Media has and will continue to impact every department within your business. It is something each of your team will need to learn how to integrate into their current responsibilities. An expert who has dedicated their career to making the impact of social media their expertise will understand this. However we will often see the big picture and want to move at a different, much faster pace than what your organization is ready for. It is important that social media integration is handled as carefully as any change management initiative.

3. Make sure the expert is focused but not too focused.

Social Media has had a great impact on PR, Marketing, and Interactive Agencies. Now each discipline is claiming to have expertise in social media. What they have is expertise in is how social media impacts their discipline. The challenge is that social media crosses all departments and an organization must be prepared for that. Although there is great value in having your PR or Marketing person integrating social media into their communications efforts, it is also valuable to have an expert who understands social media in all of it’s various forms.

I hope that Shel Holtz’s call for the anti-social media guru meme to die is a sign that social media is finally maturing and real experts who can make a real difference can be separated from the many people who entered the social media world to try to cash in on what they thought was the latest fad.