12 Most Convincing Characteristics of New Media “Expertise”

12 Most Convincing Characteristics of New Media “Expertise”

Expert has become a dirty word in many corners of social media. Not quite on the level of such inherently ludicrous labels as ‘guru’ or ‘rock star’, perhaps, but a cause of some consternation nonetheless.

In its purest form, however, expertise is simply a significant base of knowledge in a given field, relative to the comprehension level of those seeking help. Bold proclamations of unparalleled expertise may be unattractive but an assuredness, a depth of knowledge that many others lack, is both desirable and important in those we hire for advice. Expert advice.

That said, here are my 12 most convincing characteristics that should guide you to an appropriate expert, particularly in the realm of new media:

1. Ability to answer questions

You’re going to be coming to this person with all manner of queries, so you need to know they have the required depth of knowledge. A little probing early on goes a long way to ensuring your hire isn’t all talk.

2. Testimonials

We always feel better when others have tested the waters before us. The more positive reports of existing satisfied clients, the better you can feel about your expert. Don’t be afraid to ask about, even call these folks. If they’re genuinely satisfied, they’ll be happy to explain their recommendation.

3. Verifiable portfolio of work

As with testimonials, it’s helpful if you can easily dig into an existing body of work for reassurance that your requirements will be met. Look for examples that match your own needs and creative approaches that impress you.

4. Jargon free

Over use of industry speak usually means one of two things; either your expert is trying to blind you with the science of their profession to make a sale, or they lack the ability to communicate with you in plain, every day language. Neither of these will lead you to positive long term results. Choose someone with whom you can exchange ideas seamlessly and who explains even complex matters in a clear manner.

5. Listen more than speak

A common trait of overblown expertise is to continue selling long after a potential client’s requirements should have been discussed. If the first conversations aren’t centered on them listening to what you need to achieve, how can they deliver it in the long term?

6. In the loop

Sharing relevant articles about you, your industry, and a variety of factors that affect you in the new media world is a big reassurance that you’ve chosen someone who both understands and cares about the success of your project.

7. Customized services

Though there’s something to be said for niche specialists, new media is a broad and ever-expanding field of work. Your guide in this area should recognize this and be ready and willing to tailor services to the areas that best match your needs, whether that means expanding their own knowledge or bringing in additional help to do so.

8. Speak your language

Beyond avoiding industry jargon, better still if your expert is able to communicate in a manner that comes naturally to you. Not only does this demonstrate that they understand the way you work, to some extent, it also means that they can communicate with your new media audience effectively, should that be one of your requirements.

9. Hype free

The buzz you feel about your potential consultant should largely be driven by points 2 and 3 on this list, not by the expert himself. Genuine client praise and reputed bodies of work should impress. Overenthusiastic self-proclamations of rock stardom should not.

10. Good on the gut

Often overlooked, that instinctive feeling you get about someone is frequently proven right. If something feels wrong about your expert in early encounters, it’s probably only going to get worse.

11. Ongoing support

It’s easy to maintain enthusiasm for a project during the sales process and early days, but the really valuable advisers will keep that up right through the length of a project. If you find this waning in those you hire, or hear reports of it from other sources, alarm bells should be ringing.

12. Follow up

Sure, this will be in the closing stages of — or perhaps even after — your project, but continued check-ins and support late on remain a valuable characteristic. Not only will you benefit from any last minute adjustments, the insights could come in very handy for future work and hiring. For the expert, they can be the final proof for the client that she should be recommended to others.

What do you think constitutes an expert? What single quality is most important in selecting one?

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Featured image courtesy of Espen Klem via Creative Commons.

Steve Birkett

http://riseabovethestatic.com/web-presence-development-blog/

Steve Birkett is a passionate new media advocate who walks his talk with Esvee Group, a Brooklyn-based marketing agency. With a diverse background in business operations and marketing, coupled with the creative instincts of a true digital native, he is dedicated to bringing out the best in organizations online through a streamlined web presence. Steve is an avid writer and maintains blogs at Above The Static (web presence development) and Heavier – Than – Air (music). You can connect with him on Twitter, Linkedin, dingy music venues the length and breadth of Brooklyn.

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16 comments
Susan Tellem
Susan Tellem

Thanks for this Steve - I always crack up when someone's Twitter description labels them as a social media expert and they joined Twitter last week, and the LinkedIn profile has a shadow as the avatar and 11 connections. When I posted a job listing last year for social media peeps to join the agency, I said "no resumes please"...just tell me what social campaigns you've done and the results. I hired two people on the spot who followed directions and showed promise. The rest were trashed for sending social media resumes and no results.

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

How many of my clients could have avoided being 'put through the ringer' (not by ME:) if they'd read this before hiring their first New Media Expert. Great stuff.

MorberMarketing
MorberMarketing

This is a great post! Unfortunately, there are a ton of 'social media experts' out there who have never done a lick of marketing in their life. They base their expertise on their ability to create a rudimentary Facebook or G+ page. @jpjeremy3607 hit it on the head though - if you don't know anything about marketing you can't deliver a solution.

jpjeremy3607
jpjeremy3607

There sure are a lot of "new media" experts that don't seem to know the basics of marketing, nor "old media" communication.

You cannot deliver the most efficient marketing solution if you don't know anything about marketing.

dbvickery
dbvickery

Good on the gut - nicely put. Sometimes you just get that gut-feeling one way or the other. If at any time you hear the warning bells, see the red flags, run ;) #1 - #3 are great qualifiers.

AngelaDaffron
AngelaDaffron

I would also add admitting that they are always learning. This is an ever-changing medium and I get concerned that there are some that feel they have it mastered. Mastered today doesn't necessarily mean mastered next week. Algorithms get changed. A new platform is released. Platforms are upgraded/changed in some way. In the loop not only in sharing information with clients, but in discussing the platforms with other "experts" is key.

Steve Birkett
Steve Birkett

@Susan Tellem Thank you for reading and commenting Susan, really appreciate your perspective on this. I think you touch on another important area that deserves more attention, in how social media professionals communicate skills and experience to potential employers. With so many online profiles and touch points to back up (or disprove, as in your example) claims, is a one page document from traditional employment processes really all that relevant? It's one for another post, perhaps, but thanks again for extending the discussion!

Steve Birkett
Steve Birkett

@MorberMarketing Thanks Jeannine :-) If we talk purely in terms of new media set up, I think there are scenarios in which little marketing expertise need be required. After all, we don't often require website designers to be our marketing advisers as well. But because we're so early in the industry's life, there's a glut of 'experts' positioning themselves as the one stop shop for everything social media. In the end, it still comes down to asking yourself "What do I want from this person?", then deciding whether or not they have the required experience and knowledge to deliver. Appreciate your thoughts, cheers!

Steve Birkett
Steve Birkett

@jpjeremy3607 It's a crucial point Jeremy. Traditional marketing methods still yield far more eyeballs (and sales) than the developing channels, so a firm grasp of what went before is very much required for any well rounded campaign. To flip that, there are plenty of old school 'rules' being applied in the realm of new media that simply don't gel with how people use the platforms. Again, effective 'expertise' will bring the best practices of both worlds.But that's all methodology. In terms of the conceptual, marketing goes much deeper than just the channels used and those basics you mention hold true across the board.

Steve Birkett
Steve Birkett

@deleted_2698155_BruceSallan1 It's an odd one, jargon. It creates a barrier that detracts from the very communication that should convince us to hire someone. And yet we see it everywhere, from social media to all those TV commercials that try to blind us with "the science". Sadly, I suppose that must mean it works often enough to justify its continued use. Such is life! Thanks for reading and commenting Bruce; appreciated as always!

Steve Birkett
Steve Birkett

@AngelaDaffron Thanks Angela, that's a nice addition and flows well from 'jargon free' and 'in the loop'. Most professionals should be constantly updating their knowledge base and when an industry moves as fast as the online world currently does, it's an absolute necessity. Taking in a little current social media news, then probing your expert for depth of knowledge in that area is one way to weed out those in the know from those blowing smoke :-)

PaulBiedermann
PaulBiedermann moderator

@Steve Birkett@jpjeremy3607 Not to mention, it’s all marketing and all media. Why should there be any separation? Just because one has been around longer and the other hasn’t? It’s about integration — surround your market with a blend of whatever tactics will deliver the desired results (according to your strategy, that is done the traditional way, of course :-)

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