Yesterday, I watched my Twitter stream transform into a spirited conversation, complete with hurt feelings, wounded pride, and genuine attempts to put forward logical and eloquent arguments. Online friendships were torn asunder, and strong new allegiances formed. The culprit was a deceptively simple question: What makes someone a social media expert?
The question seems to have arisen because a certain print and online publication hired someone to fill that particular role, and another party felt the chosen person’s follower count was insufficient for the task. Implying, you see, that someone’s Twitter follower count is an important (if not the sole) indicator of social media success, and therefore a strong contributor to achieving “expert” status in that particular field.
Many, many people took umbrage with said view, and responded essentially that quality, not quantity, accounted for true “expert” abilities in social media. More specifically, many pointed to the quality of interaction, which defines the “social” aspect. As such, people like celebrities — who might have high follower counts but primarily broadcast more than they engage in back-and-forth conversations — don’t really count as social media experts.
So what is it that makes a true expert? It’s a question that is no doubt on the minds of hiring managers everywhere as social media becomes more and more important to the everyday business of all kinds of companies. Without established metrics (despite some great ways to measure ROI) and hiring criteria to fall back on, what should HR departments and individuals looking to hire or contract social media experts be looking for? Should Twitter be considered first and foremost among social networks when weighing expertise? What should we validate social media expertise with, and what should we maybe not put so much stock in?
Add your comment on this debate below.