On being a Social Media “Guru”

Okay so, there are so many people who dislike being called a ‘Social Media Guru’ or who make fun of the term. (See this, this, this, and this). Now, don’t get me wrong – I get the overall idea; which is essentially that if you call yourself an ‘expert’ at social media then you are pretty much defining yourself as an expert in putting one foot in front of the other. You don’t need an expert, a specialist, a guru, none of them. Your better off using your existing people to fill in the gap, right?

Wrong. Stop thinking like you are high & mighty because you know what a hashtag is. Social media has not evolved to the point where it is a skill, and anybody and everybody knows what they’re doing. Let’s make this clear, though. I’m not talking about people who don’t understand marketing as a whole, & I’m not talking about the people who claim that they can give you a kick-ass social media plan and all they do is post, tweet, and so on. I’m talking about the people who educate, execute, empower, and are students themselves of social media.

For instance, I am a Social Media Specialist at work. That is my job title, and my day is NOT made up of tweeting and Facebooking. We have a very diverse product line, with multiple groups for each product. We have well over 20 social media properties for these products, including a mobile apps & corporate social media identity. So, I (along with my team, who are awesome BTW) are responsible for wrangling & managing content for these pages, advertising during product launches & throughout, constant research on social media & new developments in tech and mobile, managing SM real estate (Facebook tabs, Twitter backgrounds & the like), social media marketing campaigns, measurement & reporting, & contributing and engaging on these properties.

On top of the above mentioned tasks, I am responsible for monitoring the social sphere for mentions of our brand & products. These mentions generally equal up to about 1000 per day, so a lot of my time is spent in Radian6 scanning the worldwide web for promoters & naysayers. This, while I love it, can be very tedious and time consuming. Sifting through pirates & spam – I must find the storytellers & create relationships with them. Reach out, join conversations, help people where I can help, tag & assign to people in different departments… you get the point.

Now tell me, who are you to tell me that I’m not an “expert”?

Doesn’t matter what I want to call myself, I’m pretty sure that I have earned the right to call myself whatever I see fit. If I want to call myself a Social Media Guru, then I very well might. It does not diminish the fact that I know what I’m doing. This post is dedicated to the person on Twitter (whom I retweeted in case you’re interested) who said that they can’t “trust someone with the word ninja in their Twitter bio”.

If you put any sort of adjective in front or behind the term “social media” as a description of your job function, you will be judged. Whether it’s guru, specialist, ninja, strategist, junkie, enthusiast, fanboy/girl, etc. – you’ll get teased, it’s the new World of Warcraft, apparently. The real question you should be asking yourself is who cares? C’mon now, would Peter Shankman really hire you anyways?



  1. Jack Silverman · June 23, 2011

    This is well stated. Regarding social media, there are a lot of “snake oil salespeople” and pretenders out there. It’s still a relatively new field sort of like the “Wild West.” Social media is a strategic endeavor when done correctly for business. There is a big difference between “tweeting for fun” and “tweeting for a corporation.” At Bolin we start with a social media analysis and audit for our clients before we even recommend one social media tactic. After the analysis phase it’s all about the strategy and then execution against a plan. There are some real “social media guru’s” out there but you have to do your homework to find them. Regarding your monitoring and reputation management strategy you might want to take a look at http://www.consumersphere.com/ they have a very robust product that we’ve found provides far more value than Radian6.

  2. marissatheninja · June 23, 2011

    Thanks for your feedback on this, Jack. I agree that there is a HIGH number of “snake oil sales people” in the social media realm, no denying that. Measurement & analytics as well as analysis should be the key starting point (as well as an ongoing function) in any company’s social media plan. You have got to know why you need to be there & who you need to talk to. As for monitoring, rep management etc, I appreciate the feedback & suggestion, however, Radian6 provides a lot more value than just the tool itself. They provide amazing training programs, lots of resources, abilities to integrate w/ Salesforce, and are available for our every need. Plus, their Canadian! 🙂 I’ll keep Consumersphere in mind though! Cheers.

  3. Trish · June 23, 2011


    Thanks for including us in your article. We appreciate the shout out and your kind comment about our services. You make valid points here. Though there seem to be more people taking shots at the terms used in titles, I think it’s more important to look for things like content, engagement and results. A title is just a title.

    All the best,
    Trish @Dayngr
    Community Manager | Radian6

    • marissatheninja · June 23, 2011

      Thanks Trish. Completely agree, re: a title is just a title. Deepening engagement and valuable content is what should matter most.



  4. Danny Starr · June 29, 2011

    Social media are tools that are used to connect people and so I would prefer not to label myself as a social media anything because I would prefer to be seen as a relationship builder more than anything else. I don’t even like social media. I like people and social media tools help me meet people and build relationships with them.

    I am a marketer and not a social media person. Social media is simply one aspect of my skill set so I resist being seen as a social media specialist or anything of that nature.

    I started in email marketing 10 years ago when it was the bright shiny object everyone was talking about and I had a really hard time getting seen as anything other than an email marketer. There is no way I am ever going back to being as tied to one tactic or set of tools like I was for about 5 years.

  5. marissatheninja · June 29, 2011

    Thanks for the comment, Danny. I understand your insight on this, and I have heard similar comparisons to e-mail marketing with the dotcom era.

    I especially like that you view social media as a relationship building tool – this is as important for brands as marketing or public relations. I strongly believe that one day, social media will be viewed as a skill and not an area of expertise – but I also believe that we aren’t quite there yet. I am a marketer by education, and a social media specialist by title. This is just how it fell together, and as it stands, this is where all my efforts are focused.

    My point here, is that a title is just that, a title. People can call me whatever they want, but as it stands professionally – this is where I fall. I appreciate your view on this, and something to note – as it was in email marketing – social media spans across so many different departments so it is essential we can educate our brands, bosses, & the like of the importance of skill development for every employee. Not just a select few.

    Thanks for your comment,


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