Usually, the most recognized social media “experts” are not the people actually doing the work of implementing social media tools and helping build and maintain online communities; and that’s okay.
The temptation is great for those who do the work to dismiss the popular experts as “out of touch” and for the popular experts to dismiss the ones doing the work as people who simply “don’t get it”.
The rift is the problem. The talkers and the doers need each other, or could at least benefit from one another.
Can’t we all just get along?
Almost every discipline (especially in business) has this rift between professionals and academics.
Professionals accuse the academics of sitting aloft in a proverbial ivory tower and the academics resent the professionals for not being in full understanding of their intricate theories.
Social media is different only because our scholars and academics are self appointed, or community appointed, rather than institutionally appointed.
There is no Ph.D. in social media communications, or Web 2.0.
Our scholars are regarded as such because of a body of written work that resonates with those who see the changes that are happening in the way information and experience is transmitted online.
Like it or not, their work is now informing how popular culture, mainstream media and the rest of the blogosphere understand social media’s transformation on information, business and culture.
Self-appointed egotists more concerned with self promotion than promoting good communications strategies and practical advice
Yeah, I said it because that’s what many working in the field are already saying.
As much as so many social media proponents like to tout listening as a rule, they don’t always like listening to the people who work everyday at turning their theories into practice. And, believe me, this is no easy task.
Learning calculus taught me there is a HUGE difference between theory and practice. I can understand mathematical theories quickly, but practice is a discipline that is only learned through more practice no matter how well one understands the underlying theory.
In reality, those working in the field need people that devote their lives to promoting, explaining and studying the evolution of social media’s impact on business and interpersonal communications.
Like academics who are generally paid a third of what those with similar training would earn in the business world, social media “experts” typically write blog posts, speak free of charge and find other creative ways to earn a living to sustain their passionate exploration of the field.
Without them, there would be no stories about social networks or social media tools in the New York Times or anywhere else. And, guess who reads the New York Times… our clients and bosses.
Another useful reminder is that PR Week is only most concerned with stories about PR if they involve a client (hat tip to Bonin Bough for bringing this fact to my attention). The industry is in desperate need of an outlet that lets us work through our challenges without having to mention clients directly.
Social media bloggers may be open to helping us explore our issues in this manner.
They may also be more interested in discussing and promoting our case studies that help prove their theories. Who doesn’t like sweet validation? Just please, as always, know who you’re pitching…
Industry-types too concerned with numbers and profits, too entrenched in the old-school way of doing things to understand or appreciate the big picture… they just don’t get it…
The ones doing the work are simply asking the same questions that most CMOs and clients will undoubtedly ask.
Even if I “get”, and wholeheartedly agree with, the theory you’re promoting, translating that theory into something that a client will care about is challenging when there is no empirical data to fall back on.
Numbers, data and statistics need to supplement compelling arguments and graphs that illustrate influence or authority or two-way conversations.
Professionals in the field need tactics and data, and eventually, so will the experts. Ironically, the evidence will only come from those working in the field.
Promoting new methods of communication and implementing new methods of communication are very different disciplines. I think there’s a place for both and that the venerated experts and savvy professionals are more dependent on one another than either would like to admit.