Social media expert = passionate web person?

August 19, 2009

Couldn’t agree more with this post (or as he says rant, though I think I sense some holding back) from @builtbydave today. Expert is a phrase used far too often in many fields, particularly in relation to social media. Being social is a skill in its own right, and one that far too many overlook.

People often use the term social media to describe online communities and blogging and seem to think they’re something new, where as anyone who remembers newsgroups would remember just how social they used to be (uk.music.rave anyone?). I used to work for a company who specialised in community portals in the mid to late 1990’s, the concept isn’t new, just the technology has moved on significantly. Campaigns have been built around places people congregate on the web for many years.

But there are people who are very good at building campaigns based around various community platforms, blogging, networks, forums etc and specialise in that as a discipline so we do need a word for what they do. Perhaps ‘social media’ is just the wrong one, is it trying to encompass too much?

It’s a hard thing to define though, and I’m not going to pretend I can do it, but I am going to pose a few questions. Do we need to define social media? Can you define it acceptably? Should we segment the skills into online PR, community building & management, blog media experts etc; would that make it more palatable? Or do we just need to accept that the best person for the job is one with an open mind, a sociable demeanour and a deep understanding & passion for the web as a whole? I tend to side with something an old boss of mine used to say before we interviewed ‘the best people are web people’.

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