So you Want to be a Social Media Expert?

I wrote this post for the blog at Helps2, the social media company that I work for. You can view the original post here.

Social media manager. Content creator. Platform consultant. Growth hacker. Yes, this is a thing now.

Ten years ago, social media as we know it today didn’t exist at all. So is there such a thing as an “expert” in a field that is not only brand new, but is changing on a daily basis? And if you’re not Mark Zuckerberg or a Google employee, can you actually become one of these people?

Yes, you can. While I may not be considered an “expert,” as compared to the real pros, I have learned a thing or two about the social media world and how to stand above the crowd. I’m still learning, growing, practicing, and adjusting, but I will share a few tips that can help you move out of the “newbie” realm and on towards “expert.”

It’s okay to try all the platforms till you find your niche. If you’re just starting out with social media, especially if you’re wanting to use it to represent and promote your career, business, organization, or other pursuit, just experiment. There are the big social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc – but there are dozens (no – probably hundreds) of others, too. Some platforms suit a specific niche or industry – like Flickr for photography, for example. Don’t be shy about trying a lot of social media sites for a little while so that you can narrow down your list of favorites where you want to focus your efforts. This not only lets you find the sites that you enjoy and where you can reach your audience, but it gives you experience with many different platforms. Knowledge and experience are part of becoming an expert.

Interaction is key. Social media is all about being social. If you don’t interact with your fans/followers/clients, they will be less inclined to follow you or to seek you out when they need your product, service, or advice. The ways of connecting with other users differs from platform to platform, but again, this is where experimentation can help you. Making the effort to learn how to communicate effectively on social media – whether it’s comment strings on Facebook or retweets on Twitter – helps you to stand out.

Study the pros. The old adage is true – find someone who has what you want in life, and learn what they did to achieve it. Most social media professionals share much of their knowledge freely through blogs, podcasts, and the like. Read articles about social media tips. Find people who you respect who are doing it right (whether they are social media professionals, or just using social media effectively). Interact with them, ask questions, read blogs. Also know that no matter how much you might learn about social media, because of its very nature, there’s always something new to learn. You don’t have to keep up with every single trend, but develop a passion for constant study.

Be consistent! Consistency is the glue that holds this all together, and in my opinion is one of the main ingredients in the making of an “expert.” No one wants an “on again, off again” professional in any field. Be consistent with your learning – social media changes every day, both from a technological side and in the way people are using it. Be consistent with your own social media, whether you have just a personal Facebook page or you’re managing a website and a presence on five other platforms. Be consistent with your updates and with your interactions. If you want to be on the road to “expert” status, then people need to see that you have both the knowledge and the discipline to keep going over the long haul.

So there you have it. These tips are things that I myself have done (and continue to do. Consistency, remember?) Whether I’m truly an expert or not isn’t important, really. I’m learning, applying what I learn, enjoying what I do, and becoming more effective every day. And you can do it, too!

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