There are a few jokes going around the blogosphere right now regarding what it means to be a social media expert. Now that the stay-at-home-moms (and dads) are finding their way to a five-figure Twitter follow count, they’re offering all types of services and branding themselves as all-round experts.
Despite the title of the post, having worked as the social media manager for Fortune 500 companies, and a lot of knowledge here being totally personal, I do not think of myself as an expert. In fact, I don’t think becoming a social media expert is something that people should be worried about; they should be focused on becoming expert communicators instead.
Because of the less serious checklists that are being passed around the web right now, I thought it would be a good time to look at what some of the influencers online are really doing, and how you can join their ranks if you’re so inclined.
Do you ever read the tweets of Chris Brogan? I know there are a lot of them, but that’s because he’s spending a large portion of each day highlighting the work of others. Darren Rowse? Brian Clark? Daniel Scocco? They might not tweet as much, but they are definitely focusing their attention elsewhere.
I’ve personally taken this concept so far that I now have a pretty new box at the end of most blog posts which highlights other bloggers that I enjoy. Right now, you’ll find the likes of Tamar, Jonathan, Lisa and Rebecca in my feed reader, and consequently, in that box.
You can help your bid to become more transparent online by sharing what you enjoy. Plus, if you know anything about how blogging works, you should know that no blog is a competitor.
Grow Biggers Ears
I did have another way of saying this, but Chris’s term sounds better. Quite simply: the true social media experts are willing to listen to the ideas of absolutely anybody in this space. That could be from traditional media, my sister, a friend, the radio, or even a small child. If someone has an idea I like the sound of, I’m not going to care about where it came from – I’m going to see if I can use it.
Remember, to make an impact in the social media space you have to become the best communicator. And, to fulfil that position, it requires you to be willing to give your time, attention, and logic to people with a variety of different ages and backgrounds.
Accept a New Normal
When I talk about accepting a new normal , I’m talking about two different aspects of life. The first is personal. Take my own situation as an example. Because I have quit my job, and I blog about personal things, I have written about quitting my job and in turn found that this interests a lot of readers.
In terms of influence though, people email me about whether they should quit their job or not, and expect that a 20-year old from England really should know the answers to such important career advice. Influencers accept that they have a position to hold and won’t abuse it for a quick buck.
Not only do experts accept a change personally, they also accept that the business world is changing and the way to get sales no longer means interrupting your audience via every medium they hate being interrupted in.
If you resist the changing times, you’ll just get left behind.
Make Everything Else Irrelevant
In aiming to be the best communicators, it’s important that we don’t discriminate anyone by age, gender or ethnicity when working with them. However, as an influencer, you must remember that while many people will praise you, lots of others in the same niche will not even know who you are. Therefore, aim to constantly focus on producing the best products / posts / services that you can, to make your previous background or achievements irrelevant.
For example, when I first started making money online, I was 16 years old. I knew that unless I went above the effort of everyone else who was blogging about my topic and offering services to clients, people just wouldn’t take me seriously. Because of this, I believe the influencers in any niche should be the people who are the most passionate about their industry doing well.
If you feel the same, then you must also realise that these people don’t fit a cookie-cutter image. Social media experts realise that you can’t control what people say about you online, but you can continue to focus on putting out your best work possible, whatever your medium can be.
Despite all the noise online, it’s still possible to become a signal.
Ignore Social Media Checklists or ‘Top’ Lists
It’s nice to be featured in press both online and off, but allowing that to influence your ego or strategy is just silly. The people that deserve to be the influencers are the ones that realise 10,000 random followers can not be compared to 1,000 or even 500 people who genuinely care about what you have to say.
You don’t become a social media expert by promoting yourself as a social media expert. In fact, if you don’t mind me letting you in on a little secret, there is no way to become an expert in the eyes of everybody anyway. Instead, what you should be pushing to become is the biggest communicator, thought-provoker and connector in your niche.
Then, and only then, will people really start to see you as an expert at something. And perhaps it will be deserved.
Glen Allsopp writes about the topic of Viral marketing at ViperChill. He’s also a huge fan of Tamar and very thankful to have her offer him this opportunity.