I read this recent feature in PR Daily on the seven different types of social media specialist and my heart sank a little. Yes, it is focused on communication and marketing specialists, but fails to observe that there are also social media experts who originally come from a front-line business management or sales function.
Just because you are an expert on building a Facebook community now, doesn’t mean that your past was in communications or that you got a degree in PR. I sometimes wonder why magazines like this don’t see how social media needs to be integrated into a business?
I’m the first to talk about the importance of social media – you can see all my past blogs on the topic right here – but I think we are missing something if social media has now become a skill or an industry in its own right. It’s like the days when people talked of ‘outsourcing’ as an industry rather than as a business strategy applicable to any industry.
I saw a community manager online recently trumpeting her ‘social media guru’ award from a magazine and her background was PR prior to online community management. She was about 5 years into her career and winning awards that suggest she knows more about social media than anyone else who reads that magazine.
Sometimes it is no surprise that ‘grey-beard’ management treat social media as a fad when those in the field sometimes behave as if they are from another world. A world where managing a business, making sales, and keeping customers happy don’t matter so long as the follower count keeps ticking up.
Social media and online communities are important and are changing the relationship of companies to their customers, but lets try and remember that the real gurus are the people who deliver a service to customers, not those who post cat photos on a community page.
Photo by Boris Anthony licensed under Creative Commons