Expertise Without Experience: Enough is Enough
Posted on February 13, 2012
This afternoon I was browsing the website of a higher education professional association. One of the upcoming events was a webinar on how to effectively manage your institution’s social media presence. I hadn’t heard of the presenter, so I did a quick search on Twitter. I found a person who hasn’t tweeted since April and follows approximately 50 people. I can’t find the person on Facebook. There’s a profile on LinkedIn, but no recent status update. I’ll admit, I made a snap judgement. To check my perception, I tweeted the following question.
Do you think people who aren’t active in social media personally can effectively manage an organization’s social media presence?
I got a couple of responses that really made me laugh, and made me think.
— Brian Lind (@BrianLind7) February 13, 2012
— Tim St. John (@timstjohn) February 13, 2012
Although social media management is not life and death, Brian and Tim are right. Would you visit a pool patrolled by a lifeguard who can’t swim? Learn to fly from a pilot who’s afraid of heights? Why then, would you pay to learn about social media management from someone who hasn’t demonstrated personal competence in social media?
I’ve been thinking about it, and I’m sticking with my instincts. I don’t think it’s possible to effectively manage an organization’s social media if you’re not participating in social media personally. There’s a culture and a language that you need to understand. It’s very hard to learn that culture when you’re tweeting behind a logo.
I looked into the institutional social media presence that this person manages. I found a Twitter account that’s linked to Facebook, a Facebook page littered with likes of its own content, and a QR code on the institutional homepage (it makes no sense to put a QR code online!). This presenter may be very nice and knowledgeable, but I would not pay for this webinar. I would, however, congratulate the presenter on landing a paying gig ahead of people who are eminently more qualified.
I would (and routinely do) recommend presentations or webinars presented by many of the people I’m sure are reading this blog. I’ve interacted with you for months, maybe even years, and I know you know your stuff. You’ve built up “street cred” online that a flashy bio can’t fake. People with access and connections who lack expertise should no longer be the ones teaching social media strategy to our colleagues.
I believe that the title of “expert” is not something you can bestow on yourself. You become an expert when others look to you for your expertise. Many of you reading this are experts, whether you realize it or not. Take your place at the table, and provide better training and inspiration than is currently being offered in a lot of pay-to-learn opportunities.
If you’re already contributing to quality training in higher education, how did you get your start? What was your first step? If you’re an expert without training opportunities, what’s holding you back? What questions do you have?