What Makes You So “Special”?

March 9, 2010

Saul Colt, The Smartest Man In The World, posed an interesting question on his blog today: What makes you so special on Social Media besides being “early”?

If you haven’t read it – I definitely suggest you do. There were many different angles I wanted to respond with… Like the fact that those self-proclaimed experts sometimes annoy me too… and really, anyone interesting and engaged can gain a following/community/network…

Instead, I was reminded of a little quote by a Mr. Dave Coleman on respecting the past in order to make something better in the future. Yes, his quote was in reference to our generation but the lesson is still the same. #davecolemanfangirl

Here was my inspired response

It is interesting seeing some of the self-proclaimed experts not doing anything innovative. As early adaptors who shaped this online bubble we (assumption, perhaps just I) live in, we expect them to have some levers or buttons to pull and push to take things further. I mean – they have the mechanics figured out, so tell this robot to dance, right?

My question is — why do we have such expectations of them?

Chubby Checker, aka. the guy who originated The Twist, was on The Hour few weeks ago. The whole time all I could think was – who cares, you washed up one-hit-wonder. Then I was reminded of an important lesson – we have to have respect for those who came before us, those who shaped the dance moves we use today.

Mr. Checker has not and will not create any other innovative moves, but he was a part of something great in the beginning. Now, Mr. Checker, like the socmed experts who cannot take this further, need to step aside and let the innovators take this over and turn it into something new and hopefully better.

What makes you so special on Social Media besides being there early? Maybe that’s enough sometimes.

So, yes… sometimes I find myself also annoyed by these “experts” who tweet automated fluff or worse yet, write books full of regurgitated and useless bullshit; only to then ride this status out as far as it will take them. Some of them may have even been experts at sometime but haven’t done much since. Some just happened to adopt early.

But let’s be honest – there’s a lot to learn from these people and if one of them were to extend an offer to impart a piece of their wisdom onto me, I would not only take it – I would consider myself so lucky. Whether we like to admit it or not, they are doing something right – otherwise they wouldn’t be called experts; and better yet, we simply wouldn’t care.

Let’s stop throwing stones at one another and instead focus on learning from each other, growing both ourselves and these interactive tools we (or just talking about myself again here) love so dearly and start taking things further. Evolution, it’s a beautiful thing.

What do you think? Do the experts – in any field really – who seem to be all show and no go get to you? What do you think is the solution?

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11 Responses to “What Makes You So “Special”?”

  1. reneewarren Says:

    Ever read the book: The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing? It highlights being the first in the market as the best position to be. I agree, on some levels. To be honest, I shy away in some situations to even suggest that I have my own business in Social Media Consulting. Why? Because of the blurred lines between expert and non-expert. Do I have to be an expert to provide a good to great service to my clients? No. But I sure do have to have a spectacular understanding of the industry. But more importantly I have to Walk the Walk.

    Personally, I am sick and tired of hearing the SM people talk about ‘experts’ and those talking about being ‘experts’. Who cares! Just do your work and do it well. Title yourself whatever you want. But if you are throwing the word expert in there…you better be one!

    Here is my question: Are those self-proclaimed experts making money? Or is that just all a facade?

  2. Saul Colt Says:

    I hope I don’t sound like an ass here because I am not disagreeing with you but my point is more about the silliness of why certain people on Twitter are popular. But your Chubby Checker example plays into my point because “Chubby” (as I call him) didn’t write the song nor did he invent the Twist so one could make an argument that he too benefited from being in the right place at the right time and gained fame due to an enormous amount of luck and not something you could replicate.

    I really am not trying to start a fight I am just in a feisty mood 🙂


  3. Great point Renee and thanks for sharing. PS – I think you have the results, client satisfaction and positive industry reputation behind you enough to start a successful consulting agency.


  4. Saul – thanks for the comment. Loved your post and you know I’m a #fangirl.

    Now, I know – Hank-whom-ever technically created the twist and Chubby brought it to the world… but the point is the same – I feel as though there’s a lot of industry agonizing over these “experts.” Why are we all so bothered by this? Lets pay respect where respect is due (and yes, in my opinion that includes the ones who, by chance, happened to be there first) and move on.

    But I do agree that sometimes it bothers me seeing people put out books about socmed redundancies [read: nothing], viewing these books expensive business cards (just one example, not naming), and then getting inflated followings and egos because of it.

    I’m just saying I don’t want to get distracted by this; instead, I’d rather smile, nod, keep doing what I’m doing, take what I can out of what they do well, and at the end of the day, I’ll sleep well knowing I do what I love, I do my best, I live it, understand it, and am constantly trying to improve – and that is what’s important.

    Might just be me, but focusing on everyone else’s successes or following, no matter how unqualified they seem, doesn’t do much else but make me feel jealous, lesser and uninspired. Where will that self-pity get me? Nowhere. I’d rather take what I can from it – these people are obviously doing something right.

    The true and talented will prevail. Trust that smoke and mirrors can take someone only so far. I know, one day my hard work will pay off.

    And I’m not going to get into rewards from the unviverse from staying focused, grateful and positive :p

  5. James Says:

    Here’s the problem. Social media is an ego-driven sport that appeals to people that like to talk about themselves and share their opinions. In an environment lacking any hierarchical order or structure, anyone can spout wisdom, hatred or stupidity with a click of a mouse. It’s a free for all amongst egoists and narcissists. Is it any wonder then that most of these wankers would anoint themselves as “experts”.

    Social media is essentially an online replay of high school. Jagoffs sharing vacuous details about the “tweets” and “twats” they scored last night. None of these iPhone single finger twankers could survive in an environment that demanded knowledge, professionalism, performance and leadership.

    In the words of my favorite social media expert: “Fuck this sh*t”.


  6. James – thanks for the comment but I must say I respectfully disagree.

  7. Nate Black Says:

    I agree with James’ attitude, and maybe 50% of his comment, but I think that by making statements like “could survive in an environment that demanded knowledge, professionalism, performance and leadership” he has identified himself as a flesh-space-intellectual-jock.

    IMHO I was also very annoyed with the ‘experts’ I was following until I found one that was actually interested in what I was doing and what I had to say, rather than simply showing off how much better than me they were. That made all the difference.

    There aren’t too many experts out there at all. These people are teachers, like in any other classroom. The immediate problem is that we’ve put 100,000 teachers in the same class room, and then got mad at them when they all started talking at once. If you ever want to learn anything/be less annoyed, simply kick some teachers out of your class.


  8. Nate – thanks for the comment

    “until I found one that was actually interested in what I was doing and what I had to say, rather than simply showing off how much better than me they were. That made all the difference.”

    Amazing and the classroom analogy is amazing – I’m so borrowing that in the future 😉

  9. Mark Says:

    The main problem I have with Social Media is trying to sort the nuggets from the noise. And there is so much noise. From people who love themselves to those who love to hate them. I spend too much of my working week trawling the blogs etc. for information pertinent to my world (digital publishing), and that’s because despite the useless noise (Tweet: “tonight I rearrange my sock drawer”) much can still be mined from those resources. But let me tell you, from a guy who remembers what it was like working pre-internet, by far the best source of information in terms of quality, accuracy and usefulness is still good ol’ fashioned face-to-face interactions such as conferences, expos, meetings and wotnot.

  10. Dave Says:

    Wow, a tag next to Chubby Checker #honored

    My issue is that there are a lot people who call themselves experts for no good reason at all. They think they are on twitter, know how to use it and that makes them an expert. NO … that’s not the fact. There is no such thing (in my mind) as a general social media expert. You can understand the tools, but how they relate to business is the more important factor … goals goals goals. Why are you trying to use social media? Social media is a tool to achieve a goal, whether that be a marketing goal, an HR goal, a communications goal or a sales goal. These so called experts are full of BS.

    Go and talk about how to use social media for marketing and become a marketing expert that has become an expert because of his knowledge of social media … then I will respect you.

    Anyone can put up a facebook page or auto tweet blog posts, but what’s the point, what are you trying to achieve. If you don’t understand the actual field that you are utilizing these tools for, then you are no expert at all. That being said there are some people that came early and understand the space. As you said we need to learn best practices from them and then take that and apply it to what we are really trying to achieve.


  11. Loves it – thanks for the comments

    Mark – I agree, in-person communications are always best; however, in my experience, online communications have helped open the doors and facilitate the face-to-face.

    Dave – great points!


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