Social Media Savvy By Proxy

Posted on 28 July 2010

A co-worker introduced me to the term “whuffie,”and it got me thinking.

Back when I started managing communities professionally it was referred to as “support.”  I was there for anyone, in the community AND out, that had a problem interfacing with the environment, completing a task, or simply had a question.  The definition of the modern term “Community Manager” involves not only support, but public relations, marketing, and being savvy in the ways of social media.

Back in “Preschool” which is the precursor to “Old School” we used social media tools to provide some that of support, whether it be via IRC, forums, IM, or email. I think that’s how the truly substantive social media experts became social media experts, because they needed to use that very media to achieve their professional goals.

The reason I use social media so much is BECAUSE of my job, but for some social media IS their job.  I think we can all agree that some people have achieved their 15 minutes based solely on the unsubstantive.  Granted, there are people that have a lot of cool things to say, which justify social media as a singular profession, but those people are few and far between.

A friend and co-worker has a blog that generates more traffic than the community website we produce and maintain.  He’s a brilliant engineer and a talented coder who has a lot to say.  His “whuffie” is HUGE.  Now for the people who value the whuff that’s would be a great thing, but I don’t think it matters one iota to him.  It’s just a means for him to communicate his ideas.  He doesn’t portend to be a social media expert but he’s clearly got many self proclaimed experts beat hands down.

Does the fact that you’re plugged in to the internet in every way conceivable mean ANYTHING other than exposure? If all you’re exposing is interconnectivity does that exposure even matter?  While I’m still (and always) learning new things I’m not always sold on them.  I deal with PR and marketing people regularly who claim to be social media experts and and want to jump into community management.  I laugh when I see people hop on the community bandwagon when it becomes popular.  When it becomes clear they have absolutely no idea what’s really involved with managing a community on a daily basis they usually disappear.

Getting down and dirty in the trenches of supporting a community is absolutely necessary!  It’s invaluable and will tell you if you’ve got the stuff.

Do that and everything else will take care of itself.


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