I love social media experts…………………………. Just don’t call them experts.


There are a couple articles flying around the internet at the moment arguing whether we need “social media experts” or not. (This guy says no. This guy says yes.)

I think I agree more with the “yes” guy on the subject at hand. But there’s a lot I like about what the “no” guy says, too. (Particularly his ideas that it’s all about Transparency, Relevance, Brevity, and Knowing your customer.)


My issue is really with the word “experts.” If you take the Malcolm Gladwell definition of an expert being someone who’s invested 10,000 hours (approximately ten years) in developing a skill, then it’s not even possible to have social media experts. The discipline hasn’t been around long enough. At least not the way it exists today.

Twitter is only five years old. YouTube is five and a half. Facebook, barely seven. And Facebook, as it works today, is a completely different animal than it was a few years ago.

Also, in my experience, “experts” like to act as if they know everything there is to know. They make themselves seem important and vital by throwing around declarations and buzzwords that nobody else feels empowered to question.


These days, I’m most attracted to the people who realize that knowing everything is impossible. The ones constantly on the search for a better way to do things. The ones who don’t claim to have all the answers, but know how to go find them for each unique set of circumstances.

While it’s really just a matter of semantics, I prefer the word “specialist” over “expert.” Specialists (like my friend and colleague, Rosie Siman) dig deep into understanding the intricacies of social media that the rest of us don’t have the bandwidth for. And there are plenty of intricacies. Keeping up with changes at Facebook alone deserves having a Facebook Specialist. And “Social Media” is a lot more than just Facebook.


Certainly, that doesn’t take the burden off the rest of us when it comes to making an effort to understand and immerse ourselves in social media. Imagine trying to write a TV spot if you’d never watched TV in your entire life. Imagine trying to produce a TV spot with an entire organization that had never done it before.

There’s a huge benefit to having people on your team with experience and a focus on social media. Just don’t call them experts. The world is changing too fast for that word to mean anything anymore.


  1. [...] Editors Note: This post originally appeared on Tim Leake’s (awesome) personal blog [...]

  2. Tom McManus wrote:

    So true. Whenever anyone says they are a digital expert or a humor expert I feel like taking out my gun.