Social Media Experts Who Don’t Use Social Media?

by Etienne Besson on 21 September 2011

in My musings

There are more and more social media „experts“ and trainers who don’t seem to use social media themselves. Do they know what they’re talking about?

You can't learn social media from books

While taking my regular leisurely strolls through the Interwebs I noticed some Social Media Trainers and Communications Managers responsible for their employer’s social media activities.

But what surprised me is that some of them don’t seem to use any social media channels themselves.

There were a few Twitter accounts, but they were mostly gathering dust in a dark corner of cyberspace. And I even saw an online profile that linked to „“. And I don’t mean a link to their personal profile or a fan page, but literally to Facebook’s start page.

The Undead Undertaker

Today I remembered a tweet that was posted during the Swiss Social Media Forum (6 September 2011 in Winterthur, #ssmf). It said that you can be a good undertaker without being dead. Somebody replied that this logic certainly doesn’t apply to social media.

And I completely agree. I believe that you need to „do“ social media yourself in order to „get“ it. Otherwise you won’t be successful.

IT Jobs Back Then

A long time ago companies couldn’t find enough IT workers (sound familiar?) and had to hire and train people coming from completely different professions.

What I noticed back then is that the most successful ones were the geeks. These people went home and tweaked their computers, spent half the night programming and were constantly testing new things.

Nowadays it’s difficult to get an IT job without a diploma or the right certification. This is good because it shows that the IT profession has matured and the educational system managed to catch up with the needs of the economy (more or less).

The downside is that there are more and more people who study or train in order to become IT professionals and are happy to deal with computers between 9 am and 5 pm.

That’s okay, but there’s much less passion now and they’re certainly not the ones who will drive progress and innovation.

Marketing And Communications

At the moment communications professionals have a certain advantage when it comes to social networks. After all, the basics of communication still apply to social media:

  • identify your target audience, figure out where to find them and what they’re intersted in.
  • Then get their attention and keep them interested.

On the other hand, a classic marketing and communications education can also represent a serious disadvantage because the classic philosophy of communication 1.0 doesn’t work with social networks.

You can only take full advantage of social media if you can create interaction and engagement with your audience.

At best you won’t achieve much with classic broadcasting (communication 1.0). But the worst case scenario is that you might actually damage your brand.


Here are a few things I saw on social networks. They show what happens when companies don’t take social media seriously:

  • Facebook fan pages with irregular updates and the thing closest to engagement are some „likes“ from employees of the company
  • LinkedIn groups with mostly links to pages and job ads on the company website and not even trying to start discussions
  • Twitter accounts that only publish links which are often cross-posted from LinkedIn or Facebook. Even worse, sometimes the messages are longer than 140 characters and therefore cut off
  • And on all networks: no reaction when somebody posts a comment or asks a question

Social Media Is Still In Its Early Stages

After all, even people who have been using social networks for years and are considered „experts“ are still mostly making it up as they go. They’re always testing things and trying to find new ways in order to use social media successfully.

And lets not forget that the functionalities are constantly evolving while the needs and behaviors of the users are changing as well.

Take LinkedIn For Example

At first most people we’re happy with having an online profile on LinkedIn and connected with the people they already knew. Today more and more users visit a company’s LinkedIn page and check out who works there instead of going to the corporate website.

I’m also noticing a growing number of companies posting job ads directly on LinkedIn. I believe that it’s only a question of time until many job seekers will first look for jobs on LinkedIn before visiting the usual job boards.

The Need To Keep Yourself Up To Date

As an HR Generalist I need to be an expert when it comes to labor law. But since it’s not changing all too often I can rely on updates every two to three months.

With social media it’s quite different. You need to keep up almost on a daily basis in order to identify new trends, tools and even new networks like Google+. This way you won’t jump on the newest bandwagon just because you think you might have missed something important.

On the other hand you don’t want to wake up one day and realize that all your fans and followers are now somewhere else and that your competitors already welcomed them with open arms. After all, not too long ago MySpace seemed invincible and now some people are convinced that Facebook will still exist in 2050.

Passion Vs The 9-5 Job

These are the reasons why I believe that you can’t be successful with social media without being actively involved and passionate about it.

Someday you might be able to get a university degree in “Social Media Strategy And Management”, find a well-paid job and tell all your friends how proud you are that you don’t take your work home.

But this is certainly not the case yet and the (social media) world still belongs to the freaks and geeks who pursue their passion.


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