The Internet Marketing Quest Revealed: How to Be a Social Media Guru Part I

by John Zajaros on June 13, 2009

This is more about a debate over who is and who is not entitled to call themselves a Web 2.0, social media, and/or social media marketing “guru!” As Internet marketing continues to evolve, and new online businesses emerge, with the changing landscape come a new breed of entrepreneur, a group of entrepreneurs attempting to establish themselves in what reminds me of a cross between a high school clique and an old-boy network. We all know by now what I think of the term guru by now, so add that to the mix and I hope this makes for interesting reading!

I read an article earlier today entitled Social media Experts and the curse of a little bit of knowledge. The article was more of a cross between a blog post and a Dennis Miller-esque rant. In fact, the last two lines of the post read as follows: “A little bit of knowledge is dangerous…but not to them, to you! Rant ends…” Interesting! I was immediately drawn in to the post, as I have been known to rant a time or two in the past. Interestingly, this post held the promise of something more because I actually understood both sides of the issue, more complex than many I have come across lately. The article, notice I have referred to it both ways, post and article, presented an interesting position, and not an uncommon one given the emergence of social media and social media marketing.

Social media, in its various forms and manifestations, its complexity and myriad of contradictions, remains relatively virgin territory, yet to be fully understood and defined. Interestingly, here was a fellow colleague, a second generation connection on LinkedIn I had just invited into my network, a fellow member in two different networking groups, and he was set off by the subject matter enough to rant about it…

I had to know more!

The crux of his argument is this:

As he has explored social media in greater depth, in all of its manifestations, its Web 2.0 platforms, and into online marketing in general, he has discovered a disconcerting number of charlatans.

Disconcerting? Disconcerting is my word because he was, after all, ranting…wasn’t he? The thought that immediately crossed my mind was…

Welcome to the Real World! Pretty close to the title of an MTV show, isn’t it? However, as I thought about what he was saying, the issue took a different shape in my mind and I felt it necessary to respond.

Before I do, allow me to complete the picture for you. The author, a very thoughtful and by all accounts a very nice guy, made note of the fact that many, if not all of the individuals currently passing themselves off as social media experts are not; not even close. In fact, the majority of Web 2.0 experts are more akin to the amateur magician at a little kid’s birthday party, my analogy not his, they have learned a few parlor tricks, some slight-of-hand gimmicks, they mimic a few gurus, and then they go on the dog and pony show circuit offering ebooks, teleseminars, webinars, and ecourses to the unsuspecting masses.

The author is quick to note certain gurus, like Robert Scoble and Chris Brogan, among others are not included in his rant, a rant more focused on the newly emerging underclass on Twitter and even LinkedIn

“spouting their thoughts and opinions as if they mattered.”

Wow! That was a bit severe and judgmental, don’t you think? I did! But, as noted above, this is a fellow LinkedIn group member and a second generation connection, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt and read on. But then I came back to it…

“spouting their thoughts and opinions as if they mattered.”

Man! Well, to each their own I suppose, so I read on. The author went on to warn of a real danger. Real danger? My interest was piqued! My colleague then proceeded to provide a loosely formatted resume, pointing to business successes he has had and alluding to the power of LinkedIn as a tool for making valuable connections. Of course the following question immediately came to mind:

Who determines how an individual engages in social media?

And then:

Who and what determines who and what a guru is?

And of course the ultimate question in my mind, a biggie if you have read any of my previous articles or watched any of my videos, is this:

Are we skirting the edge of the hall monitor syndrome here?

The author then offers truly good advice, the you get what you pay for kind, along with a warning of sorts. Naturally, mentors, coaches and advisors should have track record and we really don’t want to put a lot of faith in someone who is untested, or do we?

Well, and read that well as if you are reading a really drawn out one. Kind of like, wwweeeeelllll!

Because it really isn’t as clear cut as that, is it?

Imagine if Penn State hadn’t hired Joe Paterno or Michael Jordan’s high school coach hadn’t worked with the kid he just cut, giving him a second chance to show is championship mettle in his junior year of high school. Imagine Tony Robbins as a 20-something kid in a broken down old car attempting to preach to the masses! Imagine Napoleon Hill without an enlightened Andrew Carnegie! Imagine if you hadn’t been given an opportunity to show you would pay your bills if given credit, do your first job effectively. Imagine having to be an expert from the start, long before you were ready to be? Who would ever learn, who would ever try if from the outset if it was determined by the powers-that-be (you know those guys, don’t you?) wouldn’t let you do anything or be anyone until you had the experience to do it, to be it. An interesting conundrum, isn’t it?

The bottom line?

The real danger is in being too restrictive in our thinking, not allowing others to add to a field by their inclusion in it, rather than their exclusion for lack of experience. Once again, who determines when someone is a bona fide expert? Who establishes the standards every wanna-be guru should aspire to? Is there a social media guru school, and where do I enroll? The answer? There most certainly is a guru school, it is Web 2.0 University. The various colleges are Twitter, facebook, MySpace, YouTube, StumbleUpon, and a myriad of other platforms and applications, all offering undergraduate and advanced degrees, and all dependent on three things:

Determination, perseverance, and work!

Ask Dan Kennedy to talk to you about the four letter word W…O…R…K if you doubt its importance! Social media, online business, internet marketing, and the rest are about taking action and applying the lessons learned daily. Yes, on Twitter, LinkedIn, and the rest…the Web 2.0 University of Hard Knocks! Enroll today!

Professor John P. J. Zajaros, Sr.
Skype: johnzajaros1

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