Hi Liza - That thread got a bit more colorful than I had expected :-) It was only intended as a lighthearted post about an amusing interaction. That being said, some interesting points were raised by Viil and others.
You ask a perfectly valid question. In my opinion, for what its worth, if you have implemented a few successful campaigns for customers I would go with web consultant or strategist with social media experience or, if you really want to emphasis just the social media aspect, social media strategist. If you have done dozens over a period of a few years, you are probably as close to a social media expert as the industry has, and no one can really make fun of your title :-) I think it all comes down to your portfolio.
These days, for my own title, I oscillate between Mascot and Chief Lemur Wrangler. Neither title is ever challenged. :-)
Have a great holiday season and good luck with the Maui businessmen you mentioned! I noticed some folks on Maui getting into the social media mix. Kapalua Villas just launched a Facebook contest for guests.
This is a good topic Liza and I could go on about it. I think we might schedule the topic for an upcoming meeting of Social Media Club Hawaii. To any SME wannabe, I suggest the following as a starting point:
Your case studies, your presentations, your testimonials - the same things a client should use to vet any consultant - should be prominent.
You should be active (doing research, testing different tools and strategies, watching content and ideally creating content) for at least a year with all of the following tools: a blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouYube + other video, and Flickr.
You should have some sort of other internet business background, in marketing, communication, web development, etc. You cannot be a social media expert in a vacuum just by knowing a few tools. And the corollary is that if you do have that other background, you cannot instantly morph into being a SME just be using the SM tools for a few months. It can actually be harder, as I have seen many people (PR people in particular) try to use SM tools as they would traditional PR. SM is in many ways the opposite, and it takes time to figure that out and get it in your DNA.
OTOH, if your client loves what you are doing for them, none of the above matters. :-) At the end of the day, business is as subjective as every other part of life!
This is my world limit for posting on discussion boards - I will likely carry it further to my own blog!
Let's plan a Social Media Club Hawaii event on Maui for 2010. Are you interested in helping? I've got a few others who are.
I think Social Media Consultant is similar to PR in that there is very little that an interested CEO / VP of Marketing couldn't do themselves if they really put their mind to it. This is not to say that businesses will not / should not buy social media expertise. Perhaps it is not in their DNA or it is uncomfortable. But social media is precisely that -- social - which implies its pretty easy stuff to learn and master if you want to. Going to disagree with you wholeheartedly here Alex. Social media is not that easy to learn which is why it has taken years for mainstream adoption and why so many companies get FAIL on their first social media campaigns. It involves a complex soup of technology - both devices as well as as apps, and huge shifts in the culture of a company to open up and have honest conversations with their customers. It involves an entirely method of communication and it is 24/7 across numerous platforms.
Harvard Business Review has been studying social media scientifically for nearly a decade and a recent blog post shows how clueless many companies and especially their C-levels, are at understanding not only the nuance about how to be successful on the social web but also the big picture. Both are necessary to implement a strategy. It is not once size fits all. And to address Liza's point, being a blogger or Twitter user for 6 months probably does not make you qualified to advise a major brand about getting into social media communication and marketing.
The Social Media Club is a nonprofit professional organization of which I am a founding member and also the founder of the Hawaii chapter. Our meetings have been packed with people wanting to learn how to use the various tools, and the more I speak to smart business people about Social Media, the more I realize it is not obvious, not easy, and not natural for the average successful person.
"With new social media platforms popping up every second, many companies worry that they can't keep up with their customers." - The intro line in the article to which Liza linked - is a genuine concern and certainly prevalent. Unlike PR, social media is best learned and adopted inside the company. A social media coach can be the determining factor in how easily, quickly, and smartly a company gets up to speed in their use of social media, or not.