oddgh Much is made of “expertise”. Take a look at various TV shows, websites, blogs, and even LinkedIn profiles and you will see the word “expert” bandied about. When you pre-fix this with the words “social media” and you can end up with a potent mix. LinkedIn, alone, ponies up over 50 pages of “social media experts” within my own network — so it would appear that social media expertise is far from a rare skill.

The reality is, in my view, somewhat different.

We are living in a time where the acquisition of knowledge is occurring at ever increasing speed. Thanks to search engines like Google and to personal knowledge networks like Twitter, we can all find, relatively quickly a preliminary answer to the trickiest of problems. For example, if I want to know how to write a social media release, I will find good quality links to Todd Defren, Lee Hopkins, a case study by Geoff Livingston and even a webinar by Des Walsh. I could also comb back through my own del.icio.us bookmarks (or those of others), or I could reach out to my personal knowledge network (aka Twitter) — or just enlist the charming Connie Reece.

None of this makes me an expert.

I could repeat the same process with a different challenge — say managing an online community. There would be new names, great insight and plenty of links. But again, this does not an expert make.

Because while I have searched through all these links, spent hours reading and analysing and determining a plan for action, the world has changed. There are new services, new offerings and new approaches being launched. There are new web applications unveiling themselves. And it all happens in what seems like a matter of hours. Sites come and go, find favour and fail … within incredibly short time frames. The flux seems never ending.

How then can I, in all honesty, advise clients/companies/anyone about “social media”?

What I do have is experience, access to people who are way smarter than me, an openness to learning new things and an ability to bear a certain amount of risk. I try before I buy. Oh, and I have failed, and even embarrassed myself.

I claim no expertise in social media … I am continually learning too much (and working on shifting ground) to consider myself anything other than a charlatan. And I have taken the words of Connie Reece to heart — “If someone tells you they are a social media expert, run”.