Are you hiring social media users or actual expertise?

Currently Social Media expertise are treated in a similar fashion as we treat statistical expertise. Let me explain that a bit with this quote from Peter Donolly:

So if a pediatrician had come out and said to a jury, “I know how to build bridges. I’ve built one down the road. Please drive your car home over it,” they would have said, “Well, pediatricians don’t know how to build bridges. That’s what engineers do.” On the other hand, he came out and effectively said, or implied, “I know how to reason with uncertainty. I know how to do statistics.” And everyone said, “Well, that’s fine. He’s an expert.” So we need to understand where our competence is and isn’t.

Just because people can do basic math people tend to think they have statistical knowledge. Social Media is going down the same path: just because people have a Twitter account, can create a Facebook page, are participating on their internal Yammer network and know how Google+ works doesn’t provide them with any special expertise on social media. They are just users with  knowledge on how to work with a tool. Best case they know a lot of the tool, though still that doesn’t mean they have any expertise in social media, they just have tool knowledge.

Next time you need help on social media related activities check if you are hiring a social media user, or somebody with actual expertise. If you need an expert on a tool, hire the user, though every tool will disappear in the end.  However if you need something more sustainable hire somebody who has a proven track record and is going beyond just tools.

Even better check if the person knows where his competence is and isn’t, the social media user will explain you that everything is possible as long as you use the right tool (or even worse: the right hash tag) and if it isn’t possible, then it is the fault of the tool, not of the user. The one with social media expertise will explain you that some things just aren’t possible. Either because he knows he cannot do it since he lack the competence to do so, or because he knows that some things cannot be achieved via social media.

It is never the tool that cause a failure of a social media projects,  it is about the competences, or better said: the lack of competences. Don’t blame the social media user for that, they just lack the reference that social media is a competency, a specific skill and more than just being great on Twitter or Facebook. Blame your hiring skills that you hire a user while you need a specialist.