Re-thinking the "Social Media Expert" Career
By Gena Haskett on November 17, 2011
BlogHer Original Post
I paid cash money to attend a local social media event recently. It was about 12:20 on Friday afternoon. All I had to show for my investment was a bag of peanuts and a non-functional rubber brain. It was raining. I was miserable.
I could hear a man at another table telling a group of women “Oh yeah, I work with mommy bloggers all the time. We have this money making affiliate system that allows you to take care of your families…”
I smell hokum. This was not a good sign.
Two men quickly sat at my table gleefully comparing notes on how to work this blogging thing.
“So yeah, I was able to grab some content and opened blog after blog after blog and then the money was just rolling in. I had it on automatic. Juicing the key words, y’know to reel them in...”
Civility was being sucked from my brain cells. But I was cool. I didn’t say a mumbling word to those men. That was because my teeth were clenched tight.
The rain was pouring outside. Other than visiting the exhibition area I had nothing else to do except wonder what the heck I got myself into.
I re-scanned the schedule seeing if there was any place I could go.
I turned into a mean little gnome. Social media people to the left of me. Marketers to the right. My escape exit was blocked by grown people staring into their phones rather than make corporeal contact with strangers.
Along Came Phil
He walked up to my table and asked if he could sit down. Dude scored a point right there by actually seeing me. Then again, he had a plate of food in his hands and didn’t have access to his smartphone.
I was sure once he had his food on the table that phone was going to pop into his hand. It didn’t.
We introduced ourselves and Phil asked if I was enjoying the convention. I told him exactly what was on my mind:
“I’m not sure I am in the right place or event. I came to talk with and associate with bloggers. I have no love for money-grubbing, so-called social media experts who seem to think that profit comes before content or craft.”
Phil replied that there are social media people who believe in quality work, good content and make an honest effort to follow best practices.
I was trying to be a bit more diplomatic after my first vent:
“I understand that there are true social media professionals. I don’t hate people who really know what they are talking about. I just have a strong dislike of carpetbagging leeches who misrepresent what is going on in blogging.”
Phil smiled. There was a pause as he swallowed his lunch.
Like the dope that I am, who didn’t pick up on the karmic cues provided, I asked Phil why he was at the conference.
Yes. the man is a social media consultant for a social media web site. Phil was there specifically to network with folks, do interviews and find content expert writers for the web site.
(Cue the Sound of Laughing Crickets)
You know, when I eat crow I like to do it with a smile on my face. I nodded my head to the spirit of irony.
After the sheepish grin left my face we talked, shared some perspectives and points of view. It was a good conversation.
How Do I Know What I Know?
After Phil left I thought about why I have such a strong reaction to the bad, unethical, base level social media posers. One of the reasons is that I have a low threshold for BS. That is a personal quirk that I have to work on.
Blogging as a practice has been good to me. I don’t like it when people take advantage of other people’s ignorance for profit. I need to acknowledge that I’m protective of my friends and colleagues who work very hard to do it right.
Still, I have to ask myself; have I given the ethical social media folks a fair chance to present their points of view? I’ve read articles, but have I made the time or effort to go to a workshop or seminar?
Change of Perspective
My Friday afternoon and Saturday conference experience was a lot better once I got into the sessions. The speakers I saw were excellent.
I made it a point to attend a social marketing session. It was an informative, no-hype overview on diversifying podcast content for sale. No BS, just straight facts that I can follow up on later.
It was Saturday afternoon and I was again between sessions. A young man sat at my table. He took one look at me and nodded my way. I smiled. Then he proceeded to eat with one hand as he texted with the other.
Sigh. I’ll guess that I’ll work on getting straightened out about legitimate social media and marketing information. It will be a while before I can take on corporeal social skills and community building.