It is my humble opinion that you can't have a social media expert. Social media is a personal action, done by an individual. It is essentially "the act of sharing". It's thousands of years old and nothing new. So the only expert there can be is YOU, as it's you that's sharing. It's a bit like breathing, a little hard to out-source. Yes, you could strap on a tank and do scuba (social media agency), but only for short periods. At some point you need to own it.
Using a platform such as facebook or twitter for the purposes of sharing on the semantic web (see footnotes) - that's an altogether another scenario, and yes, you can have "practitioners" in these fields and in the short term they might have their place. (NOTE: I said practitioners, not experts. The web is ever evolving so you can never be at the top of the tree as the top keeps moving. They may be experienced practitioners but that's who they are).
But the question is not one of "social media" as the answer. The question is social media on the web as an answer and why - i.e. why are you doing it and why are you doing it on the web?
If we look at it this way we can only surmise that there must be a reason. I assume this reason is to get found - in which case what you want to do has gone beyond social media. What you are doing is getting involved in the semantic web which, at the moment, is being led by what we can call the "searching" - see below for footnotes on Semantics.
Social media is an action, not the "sum of". Social media is what a user does by sharing, i.e an "upload" of information, thought, media, social interaction, debate (words, video, audio, pictures) etc but the fact is it's an "up-load".
How about this: there is another action that the web provides to us that is not social media - it's called listening. You might want to call it "social media monitoring" but what that translates to is a listening action to everyone else's social media action.
Why are you spending so much time on the web? Why are you "being social" on the web - is there a reason? If the answer is yes, then I would suggest that based on the above, your understanding of the "social web" needs to be pointed at "the semantic web" not at "social media" as a total action.
The web is an incredible place. It's now taking the world away from the "industrial age" and into "the information age".
What are you going to do with the information? What are you going to do with the "noise"? You've gone beyond "how to use twitter" or you will shortly - what are you going to do now?
Just over a year ago I started raving about software products that listen to the "noise". Last summer I stared "playing" with some of the systems. This year I stared introducing them to "blue chips" - the result was/were outstanding.
Now I am advising companies how to listen - in return they get:
• PR (both negative and positive. The former they can use to great effect, the latter the can use to solve problems).
• Live R&D (the customer is telling them what to sell).
• Find influencers that can drive "User Generated Media Impressions" (i.e. get the web generating imprints on the web for you).
• It can tell you where you need to put your effort in during the year, what sites, when, by who, what age, what sex, what country, what town.
• It can tell you what language, what SEO words you should be using.
• It will tell you why your product web impression is not working in one country but it is working in another.
It will tell you a lot. And this software has been born out of the ever evolving web. So you can see now why the word "Semantics" comes into it.
Social media, on the web, has been "banded about" as the "cure all" for many years now, whereas its use has evolved somewhat - and I would argue that these new developments are the ones that need attention and debate.
No one can be an expert on something so new that meaning is being questioned - and I have little respect for "I don't share your view" as an answer.
Learn about social media monitoring here.
If you want to know more about Social Media Monitoring you might want to consider coming along to our next event at Surrey Social Media Tribes on the 15th April - click here - I'll be going through what the system can do and how to best use it. Moreover, it may help you better understand why you are using the systems and which ones are best suited to your business - no one size fits all.
Footnotes: Semantics is the study of meaning, usually in language. The word "semantics" itself denotes a range of ideas, from the popular to the highly technical. It is often used in ordinary language to denote a problem of understanding that comes down to word selection or connotation.