What’s in a name?

This long overdue SmartBlog on Social Media post does a great job of telling all the social media “gurus,” “ninjas” and “rockstars” to get over themselves:

[S]ocial-media marketing isn’t like other industries. It’s got something to prove…and that task becomes spectacularly more difficult when the person doing the convincing bills themselves as a “social-media dragon-slayer.”

I have a larger concern with titles that imply that social media is some kind of mystical science that exists in a vacuum, beyond the scope of all other forms of communication and marketing. Is social media really all that different? Does it help or hurt you to pigeon-hole yourself by treating social media as altogether separate?

My take is that today, if you want to be seen as knowledgeable about social media, it’s necessary to include the phrase in your title. Otherwise, your audience may assume social media strategy isn’t one of the services you offer–or they may simply forget to think about it. However, I think it’s just as important to quickly move the conversation to the ways in which social media is part of a larger continuum. After all, social media use now represents nearly a quarter of all time spent on the web. If your audience is making fewer distinctions between social media use and web use as a whole, you should do the same.

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2 Responses to What’s in a name?

  1. Andy Welfle says:

    But where’s the line? I, for example, detest the word “Social Media Expert”, because things change so fast, I think it’s really hard to be a true expert, and there are a lot of people who claim that title who are not, in fact, experts.

    I like to use the designation “Social Media Enthusiast”. I think it works well — I am really passionate about it, I enjoy talking about it, and it implies that I may know more than the average person and can think about it strategically, but also conveys a level of modesty. I guess I use it because I don’t really make money from it, but I still often find myself in a position to teach others about it. Maybe if I was a professional social media teacher or user, it’d be different.

    Thoughts?

  2. ajjuliano says:

    I like “social media enthusiast” for all the reasons you described. (I’ve used that one myself from time to time, but switched to “marketing and social media strategist” when I thought people were confusing “enthusiast” for “apologist.”) I share your feelings about “expert.” I don’t think ALL social media title are bad, mind you: just the ones that are a little too cute for their own good.

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