Sunday, February 15, 2009

Social media gurus don’t call themselves social media gurus

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

I'm clearly coming down with something as I'm feeling rotten enough to spend this morning going through a fair whack of the people I'm following on Twitter. A small percentage of these people describe themselves as social media gurus (or experts). If you do a general search on Twitter then you'll find many more people calling themselves social media gurus.

I dislike the phrase. I've disliked it ever since people started to talk about ‘search marketing gurus'. Last week I was able to put a compilation of blog posts from around the web together for our Marcoms team in order to ‘prove' to them that we should ban the word ‘guru' from any of our marketing-communications. Yay. They agreed.

Here's what I discovered this morning; those people on Twitter calling themselves social media gurus spend less time talking about social media than either PR professionals or people working for digital or traditional agencies but who refrain from describing themselves as an expert.

Here are my stats:

Profiles studied this morning: 250 (about half of those I'm following)
  • Claiming to be social media gurus or experts: 17
  • PR Professional: 9
  • In a digital or traditional agency: 56

Disclaimer: The numbers of PR peeps and agency types in this 250 count may be higher but I'm just working off what it says in the profile bio at twitter. If the agency type claims to be a social media guru then they are moved to the social media guru bucket. Twitter profiles of actual agencies weren't counted.

Next:

I looked at the 21 tweets on a profile's front page and added up how many talked about social media this morning. I worked out the percentages from the overall totals.

Disclaimer: This study, therefore, is a snapshot of time.
  • Social media guru tweets about social media: 18%
  • PR Professional tweets about social media: 83%
  • Agency type tweets about social media: 36%

Wider Picture
:

The people I'm following might be an odd selection so I went through 500 random profiles (recent tweets). Sure enough the numbers of 'social media gurus' and agency types are a lot lower.

  • Social media gurus: 7
  • PR professionals: 3
  • Agency people: 12

Disclaimer: Some of the 500 in this random sample overlap with the 250 from the people I'm following but the methodology allows for that.
  • Social media guru tweets about social media: 12%
  • PR Professional tweets about social media: 63%
  • Agency type tweets about social media: 35%


Conclusion:

Calling yourself a ‘social media guru' seems to suggest two things; 1) you're unaware of how socially unpopular the phrase has become (you're accused of trying to corrupt or spam the natural flow of conversation) and 2) you seem to include social media in your conversations less than other professionals do!

It also seems to me that traditional PR people are currently rather focused on social media!

Update:

I think it's important to say that I'm not suggesting quantity is a sign of quality. This was a snapshot survey to see what seemed to be on people's minds/in their conversations.

I will say that signal versus noise is a key element of a social media strategy. If you are a guru then I would like to assume that you pay attention to your own signal/noise ratio too.

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