September 9, 2014 So what exactly does a ‘Social Media Expert’ do?

By Natalie Khoo

a smartphone showing Facebook page and "social media" is spelled using scrabble letters

The words ‘social media’ and ‘expert’ seem to be bandied around a lot these days. Recently, I was mingling amongst several other professionals at a networking function, and an attendee with a puzzled look on his face said to me, “I just met someone who said they were a social media expert. But when I asked him, ‘So as a social media expert, what exactly do you do?’ he couldn’t really explain it to me.”

This scenario is not unusual. Since the rise of social networking in 2004, many professionals in the advertising and marketing industries have branched out to specifically develop their expertise in this rapidly growing niche. Social media can improve and work for any business, and is something that every business should integrate into their marketing plan. When combined with conventional advertising, businesses have the potential to reach out to a wider audience, delivering the most effective campaign results.

How did perusing Facebook become a full time job?

But unless you work in social media yourself, there are many people out there that don’t know what a social media expert does. We all know that they sit on Facebook and Twitter all day, but what is it that they do that actually contributes to a brand?

To find out more information, I decided to consult my good friend Julian Cole for answers. Julian is a leading Digital Strategist (yes, a real ‘social media expert’) for The Conscience Organisation in Sydney, and the man behind Adspace Pioneers, one of Australia’s highest-ranking marketing blogs. His impressive list of clients includes Coca Cola, Nestle, Universal Music and Fox 8.

Julian explains: “It is a social media expert’s role to come up with ways that a company can integrate social media with their marketing strategy.” This involves analysing your brand, doing research to define its fit in the marketplace, and then presenting ideas on how to develop the most effective promotional campaign. It is up to the expert to show the client how they intend to reach out to as many people as possible by covering several KPIs (key performance indicators), such as: I’ll get your business 10,000 Facebook fans, or I’ll get your YouTube clip 500,000 views.

How does social media affect your total revenue?

Ok, fine. So your social media expert can get you 10,000 fans – so what? How does 10,000 fans make me money? How does this really affect my bottom line?

To investigate this topic further, think about conventional advertising. It is no different to social media campaigns – the same concept goes: the objective is to increase brand awareness in order to increase my sales. There is no cold, hard cash guarantee.

If you want to measure the success of a social media campaign in a dollar value, think about how much it would ordinarily cost you to reach out to create an advertising campaign and send out your marketing message to 10,000 people. A social media expert will be able to present to you the dollar value of your social media campaign based on comparative costs (for example, how many people drive past a particular billboard everyday, and how much does that billboard cost?). The added value of integrating a social media campaign with a conventional advertising campaign is that you are more likely to reach out to a wider audience. Not everyone may drive past that billboard, whereas your Facebook fans can come from anywhere that has an internet connection.

What makes someone a social media expert?

What about the term ‘expert’? How do you know that someone can really deliver what he or she is suggesting? Believe it or not, there is actually a definitive measurement of what makes somebody a social media ‘expert’.

According to Malcolm Gladwell, one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People and author of The Tipping Point, someone cannot call themselves an ‘expert’ until they have 10,000 hours of experience under their belt.

If we take into account a standard 40-hour working week, this is equivalent to 5 years’ full-time work specialising in social media. It is for this reason, businesses should be wary of so-called ‘experts’. Check out their experience, and make sure they can provide you with ideal KPIs to help you secure measureable results.

Are the hits, fans and followers real human beings?

To avoid fakes, it is very important to use a reputable company that you trust. It is not that difficult to generate fake hits or create fake fans and followers by the tens of thousands – but you don’t want that! Check their work; see where the hits are coming from and who the followers are. If something looks dodgy, question it.