Being great at getting people to follow you on Twitter or read your Blog does not make you an experienced Marketer.
It’s easy to create a title for yourself. It’s easy to be provocative. It’s (fairly) easy to get people to follow you on Twitter. It’s (fairly) easy to create a Blog full of linkbait. All of that will create attention for you. All of that will give you status within the Social Media sphere. All of that is fine and dandy, but none of that can give you any real experience. Doing the hard work – over a long period of time, with real clients and real teams – is where experience comes from – nothing more… nothing less.
We can’t really quantify professional experience in Social Media.
I’ve head of people blacking out their windows while spending months on Twitter developing a significant following. I’ve also seen Marketing veterans with some of the sharpest insights struggle to get people to connect to and follow them. Those folks in the basement get 50,000 followers after a couple of months, and then everyone who discovers them after that point makes the assumption that they must be experienced/smart if they have so many followers – including book publishers. With just a bit of scratching beneath the surface, it’s actually quite easy to separate the real professionals from those who are either just starting out or those who are trying to jump the cue.
But, there’s a problem with that…
It takes an experienced professional to know that someone else isn’t an experienced professional. Because of that, we’re seeing a lot of self-proclaimed gurus and experts dishing out their own perspectives as if they were seasoned and experienced Marketers espousing experienced fact. I often shrug my shoulders in amazement/disappointment at some of the content I read (and the ensuing comments and retweets). In a perfect world, you would hope that the brands looking to hire people to help them out with their Digital Marketing will do enough due diligence to see through the pale text, but then you realize that this will likely not happen.
Then how do we define experience?
It’s probably a combination of time, energy, effort and results. While some newcomers to the industry have some pretty amazing ideas and some of those folks with thousands of followers say things that seem to make sense, senior experience can’t be faked.
But don’t let that stop you.
I’m not saying that everyone shouldn’t have right to publish their thoughts (especially those that are not as experienced). In fact, it’s the total opposite. I love seeing new, fresh and exciting faces (and this includes students) leverage these many online publishing platforms to share what they’re thinking. The truth is that most people have some semblance of experience (at a basic level, you gain experience after every day of work), and the last thing anybody wants to is to see voices and ideas stifled. Just remember that a lot of followers and Blog comments doesn’t equal experience.
The trick is in not thinking that someone with many followers or lots of Blog posts with comments is a seasoned professional. They may not be.