Some of you might get bent out of shape because I dare to suggest that a social media expert exists.

I understand that there is a healthy society of humble naysayers who scoff at social media expertise. So I will warn you in advance, this post will piss you off.

However I believe that there is such an animal as a social media expert.  In fact, we’ve hired our fair share at Fluency Media.  Look around and you’ll see that Job boards are packed with openings and almost every company is trying to either train or recruit an expert of their own.

Unless we’re all deluded, there are people out there that have the right mix of talent, drive, work ethic, and experience to lead social programs.

The hard part is spotting them.

After countless interviews, discussions, good-hires, and false-starts, I believe I can give you a few pointers:

Marketing Acumen:

A social media expert understands the relationship between advertising, marketing, and sales.  They are well grounded in the science of selecting targeting audiences and the art of winning hearts and minds. This doesn’t mean that your social media expert needs to come from the marketing department.  They just need a healthy respect for the role social media plays in the marketing process.

Accountable:

Anyone can tweet all day and call it a job.  However, the real social media expert realizes that their activities has to contribute to the company in a tangible way.  They have to “move the needle” and show how their activities are turning strangers into brand evangelists. Beware of people who stress conversations over profit and “likes” over accountability.  These folks will leave your business popular and bankrupt.

Social Scientist:

Social media is 80% psychology and 20% marketing.  The best social media experts are students of human nature. They are fascinated by group psychology and love “people watching”.  Social Media pros want to understand why certain people are influential and what makes them tick.  They also can’t resist engineering the perfect viral storm.

Content Marketing Savant:

A robust social media plan requires a constant infusion of smart, relevant, and entertaining content.  A social media maestro knows how to create and repurpose content like a managing editor at a tabloid magazine.  They aren’t afraid to publish and get nervous when they are not shipping.

Intensely Curious:

Social Media is a moving target. What you know today is old news tomorrow.  A capable social media expert stays tapped into the latest developments across all digital marketing channels including social media.  I’m not referring to passive reading. Instead, look for people who actively research and dig for new insights.

Collaborative:

A Social Media program works best when every stakeholder contributes content, ideas, and support.  Effective Social Media managers aren’t afraid to persuade, beg, poke, and push for cooperation from every corner of the organization.  They know how to create relationships that result in a steady supply of fresh info to power content across multiple platforms.

What I Didn’t Mention

Tool Expertise:

The actual tools of the social media trade aren’t difficult to master. It takes about 1 week to be a proficient tweeter.  The same goes for navigating and manipulating Facebook, LinkedIn or upload a blog post.  Tools don’t make the social media expert, the social media expert uses tools to achieve their goals.

Introvert vs. Extrovert:

You don’t necessarily need to be a social butterfly in the RW (real world) to crush it online.  It helps but its not required.  I’ve watched intense introverts build communities, woo customers, and recruit brand evangelists.

A Personal Blog:

Although I would love for every social media professional to run a blog this isn’t a prerequisite.  Many experts are busy running their corporate blog and don’t have gas in the tank for their own gig. Instead, I look for results they were able to achieve for their company or clients.

Do you have any other criteria that you look for before you select an expert?