The final habit in The 7 Habits is “Sharpening the Saw.” This means that in life, once you have worked on the 6 other habits, you need to keep on working on them. You’re never done. To quote one of my favorite lines from Parenthood, “It never ends. It’s like your Aunt Helga’s butt…it’s twice as big and just as scary.”
In life, you can’t really be an expert at “living.” You can lead a good life. You can leave a good legacy for yourself. There are life coaches out there, but really they tend to focus on motivating you to life your life in better ways.
Well, I don’t think you can be an expert at Social Media either. There are a few reasons why I say that.
The technology is changing too much, too fast
Just like in life, things change in Social Media on nearly a daily basis. Heck, just Facebook alone changes hour by hour, right? If you say you are a Social Media expert, you need to be able to respond intelligently to any question that comes up about any of these changes. And by the way, Social Media experts (so-called) also need to keep their eye on things like SEO and search engine wars. You need to know everything about “new Twitter,” new Facebook groups, the new Google URL shortener, why people are mad at the bit.ly URL shortener, and more. There is not, I am fairly certain, a way to keep our arms around every single thing going on anymore. It’s like life. You grab what you can.
Social Media is about people
Can you be a people expert? That’s different from, say, a relationship expert. It’s different from what Dr. Phil does. What I mean is, can you always predict 100% what someone or groups of people will say or do at any given time? This is not a shortcoming on your part so far as I can tell. I’m definitely not a people expert. Well, Social Media is run by a people engine. It’s a people-technology hybrid. You can’t really know what people will say to a certain post or tweet. You can’t really know when the backlash against auto-direct messages will really come and knock you upside the head. A Social Media expert would have to be 100% right about how people work all the time. Now there are people who can read people pretty darned well – but would they want to take a quiz? I’d bet not.
The environment of Social Media changes
I’ve blogged about this before, and I’ll very likely blog about it again, but Social Media is an evolving creature by necessity. The Twitter that exists now is very different (so I hear) from the Twitter of 3 years ago. The people who are rising to the top of the pops now may not have done so a few years ago. The expertise that people gained five years ago may be mostly useless to them in many ways. In short, one must always analyze the environment anew. There are always new people joining. There are always people leaving for whatever reason. You can never perfect a flowing stream because the water keeps moving. So it is with Social Media. The stream, Twitter and otherwise, just keeps on going.
This is not to say that the people who are really really talented at using Social Media as a tool are fakes or anything like that. They are really really good at what they do. But one might note – they don’t refer to themselves as experts. They might, at most, say they have some expertise.
So what does this mean for us ordinary folk? It means that there is no reason to try for perfection. It can’t be done. You can’t keep on top of everything. You can’t be an early adopter of everything. You can’t know the ins and outs of everything. But what you can do is set goals based on the other habits and develop yourself how you see fit.
If experts don’t exist, what categorizations do I see in Social Media? Here are a few.
Where do you want to grow in Social Media? What do you want your “sweet spot” to be? Work on that. Tend to it like you would tend a little garden. Maybe you could even become an expert at community building or an expert at teaching people how to use Twitter. Sharpen your saw.
And don’t worry about the folks who call themselves experts. The more I learn about Social Media, the more I realize that people who call themselves experts are actually pretty far behind the times.
What do you think?
Image by Päivi Rytivaara. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/paivimkr