There are many pundits, consultants, and users in the social media space who claim to be social media experts. Let’s assume for the moment that we agree on the definition of “social media” for purposes of this discussion, and that the definition is limited to media that uses web-based technologies and where individuals create applications and content. Using that assumption, it appears that no single individual can be an expert in all these areas.  

However, it is reasonable to believe that in spite of the constant change in social media space, individuals can become experts in specific areas by gaining specific knowledge and skills, and then demonstrating specific acumen in using components of social media. For example, individuals can be strong social media historians, or application developers, or content providers, or individual application users, or generalists, etc. They can be prolific inventors, bloggers, networkers, speakers, teachers, etc. What they cannot and should not do is purport to be social media experts who can personally address any issue in the social media space with expert knowledge and delivery.  At best, an individual can be an expert in a particular area of social media, and know who is an expert in another area.

We must begin to think of social media with the same respect and awareness that we give the medical profession. We do not expect our “general practitioner medical doctor” to be the person who does eye, dental, knee, or heart surgery. Similarly, we should not expect our social media experts to know all the intricacies in every aspect of social media. Instead of a term that is glibly referred to in general, “social media” should be more appropriately recognized as the science of social media.

Like health care, social media is woven into the fabric of our lives. Its applications may drive our decisions and how we spend our time. Users who abuse social media can find themselves responsible for causing car accidents, broken homes, and other negative situations. On the other hand, using social media judiciously improves the quality of our lives.  We need to take care of social media just as we take care of our bodies and our minds.

When we have a question related to social media, we need to find the right person who has expertise in that social media area. If you are seeking help, look for consultants who have expertise in the specific area in question.  For example, wanting a “web presence,” is much different than wanting to implement cloud computing in your organization. Setting up a blog is much different than learning how to use one of the major business social media networking sites for a job search. Your role as a user is to find the individual who can help you, and who has the network to call upon when your needs expand–your social media general practitioner.

What is your buzz about?