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Social Media Expertise in Titles: Business Professional, Active Doer, Existentially Involved

Social media is a relatively new field and the competition for words and meanings is strong. This is recognized by the individuals and companies who offer their services to the social media community. Social media advocates and strategists do not call themselves “marketing managers”; their titles are designed to differentiate and communicate unquestioned special expertise. Interestingly, even though social media professionals come from various backgrounds of expertise such as SEO, online marketing, web design, corporate training, business consulting, and copy writing, these nuances are often left out from titles. My first impression has been that social media experts on Twitter play with language for instance with the use of playful (or serious?) titles such as ‘evangelist’ and ‘guru’. The message is: “I am universally tuned in, do not question my background or expertise.”

To get more insight into the trend and patterns, I analyzed profile descriptions on Twitter by various social media experts. I selected 33 Twitter profiles of experts who are clearly marketing their social media insight and services on Twitter. My second criteria was that the Twitter user had to have at least 5000 followers and had to have been actively tweeting within the last 7 days. In summary, I wanted to gather data of active social media experts who are recognized as this by other Twitter users. To narrow the data, I excluded agency profiles, magazines etc and chose only profiles associated to a personal name and/or face.

I am not displaying any Twitter user names from my data as I am more interested in the stream of discourses and meanings, and what stands out from this data. Although Twitter names are public information I regard that since these individuals were not asked to participate on this study, their user names and real names should not be on focus. (I can provide the “research” data for anyone interested upon request.) All data was collected on April 4, 2011.

The below list includes all Twitter user profile mentions of social media in the context of personal activity or profession. About 30% of social media experts are including more than one attribute to their profile, for instance by stating: “Consultant and blogger”.

Social Media Consultant (5)
Social Media Consulting Practice Leader
Social Media Business Consultant
Social Media and Internet Marketing consultant
Consultant (3)
Cyber Marketing Consultant
Marketing & Communications consultant

Social Media strategist (2)
Online Marketing Strategist
Internet (Web) Marketing Strategist
Social Media Strategy Coach

Internet Marketer (2)
network marketer

Social Media Manager

Blogger (4)
Video Blogger
Author (3)
Socialmedia author
Entrepreneur (3)
Social Media & Internet Marketing Entrepreneur
Internet Marketing trainer
Trainer (3)
Coach (2)
Social Media Strategy Coach
Speaker (4)
Professional speaker
Social Media Speaker
inspirational keynote speaker

Social Media Fanatic
Social Media Branding Expert
Social Media geek
Social Media Addict
Online Marketing Evangelist
An encourager
Personal Growth Junkie
Twitter Badass

Contrary to my assumption, words guru and evangelist were not nearly as popular among seasoned social media Twitter users. The majority of social media professionals are calling themselves consultants (12), strategists (4), and marketers (4).

Social media expertise is not only expressed with a professional title such as “consultant” but also by listing practiced outgoing activities in a fashion of a “sub-profession” such as blogger, speaker, author, trainer, coach. These active discourses convince that social media expertise is not something self-claimed but it is maintained by regularly doing social media.

Active doing of social media is also expressed in playful ways, discourses that build up a position of being deeply part of the social media world. Words such as geek, addict, evangelist, and junkie express that social media is beyond a professional choice but an integral part of one’s lifestyle and perhaps even existence. They communicate an ultimate commitment to social media, even beyond professional promises.

Twitter profiles build up an image of a social media expert who is professional, actively involved, and deeply committed. In several profiles social media experts used all three positions to build up this expertise:

Position 1: Business Professional. Position built up with discourses such as consultant and strategist.

Position 2: Active Doer. Position built up with discourses such as speaker, blogger and trainer.

Position 3: Existentially Involved. Position built up with discourses such as evangelist and junkie.

About the Author
Meri Kuusi-Shields – based in Dallas, Texas, USA – works as a creative & business director for Interaria. Meri holds a master’s degree in Sociology from University of Tampere, Finland. Meri can be reached at . You can also follow Interaria on Twitter.

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