Yesterday I read this call to action from Jennifer Leggio (whom I have an intellectual crush on, by the way) on Brian Solis’s blog. Then I saw the first video below on both Ad Contrarian and Ad Broad, both of which I love when I have time to read them. With apologies to all aforementioned and others who have complained about this topic, can we please get off the ego-driven, high-horse pedestal and shut the hell up about “social media gurus?”

I was asked about the advent of the social media expert (something I don’t believe exists) a few months ago. As a result, I recorded this video:

While the harsh tone then and now will be interpreted incorrectly by some, I still feel that way. However, my frustration has turned more toward those whining about the 20-something trying to make his or her way in the social media world, hoping to ride the wave like other digital natives and put food on their table. I don’t fault the uninformed for claiming to be something they aren’t. We’ve all spit-shined our resume a bit much at one point in time, I’d bet. I hope brands and companies are smart enough to see through that.

But attacking these enterprising young folks does two things that the “experts” doing the whining aren’t seeing:

  1. For potential clients, it makes them doubt all of us as there is little apparent distinction between the experienced and the not in a field so young.
  2. It can make you look like an elitist ass who’s afraid Johnny Icrediblog is going to take clients away from you.

While I do agree with Leggio’s assessment that your social media “expert” should have case studies, proof points and successes that point to integrated wins with an overall marketing campaign, the truth is that limits the pool to about 3-4 dozen folks in the world. No one has been doing it that long and that successfully. We’re all learning as we go. Yeah, there are a few with some good proof points, but this world, as we know it, is 4-5 years old at best.

I don’t like Leggio’s invitation for the “gurus” to jump in the comments to prove their worth. The gurus need to prove their worth to their clients, not Solis’s audience, or any of us for that matter. If they don’t, they won’t get paid much longer.

And while the video (produced on pretty damn cool software by the way) was cleverly done by Markham Nolan and is a funny, playful look at the whole guru phenomenon, it undermines the credibility of anyone in the social media business by implying anyone can do this and do it well.

(I can take a joke. It is funny. It’s just the dog pile that’s bugging me.)

The truth is that every social media manager, strategist, director, lackey, person or thingy at one point didn’t have a clue what they were doing. My first social media plan for a client was simply a PR guy connecting the dots between a communications need and a social tool that provided a solution. It didn’t make me smart. It didn’t make me an expert. But it made my client very happy and a career path emerged.

Since then, I make my clients happy or I get fired. I don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks of me. And yes, I know there are some experienced social media players out there who think I’m one of those “gurus.” I’m not going to defend my reputation or credibility to them just because I don’t live in Silicon Valley. Call my clients if you wanna know.

For them to make fun of the youngster trying to sell themselves is to make fun of each one of us at some point in our career.

My former agency colleagues rolled their eyes at me when I pitched social media ideas. Some of them still do. The ad blogs pointed to above are snickering about social media because of the funny video like it’s a fad and anyone selling it is a used car salesman in t-shirts and jeans.

And there are some in the social media world wanting to fan the flames of these character attacks because there’s some annoying dipshit with no provable reputation who criticizes their blog on Twitter.

It hurts us all in the long run. Please stop.

Sorry for the rant. You may return to your regularly scheduled programming. Or call me names in the comments. Enjoy.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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