What the hell is a social media guru?

A few times I have had to provide trainings about social media best practices, monitoring tools, reporting techniques etc…Well, it is simply my job. I am a social media analyst and I am simply expected to know how to work in my field and know the tools that allow me to work. More and more, I get labelled as a “social media guru”, which is not an adjective I like particularly. If my car breaks and I go to a mechanic nearby, I won’t tell the man “Hey, fine job fixing my engine. You are a total cars guru.” They guy would probably not understand what I’m saying and he’d firmly invite me to leave the premises by threateningly swinging a spanner over my head.

What I know as a social media analyst is that I have still an awful lot to learn and that I am bound to keep myself in the loop in order to keep providing valid recommendations and understand how the digital world evolves. There is no shortcut in this learning process.

Anyway, why are social media or digital experts called “gurus”?

Guru  is a Sanskrit term for “teacher” or “master”, especially in Indian religions. The Hindu guru-shishya tradition is the oral tradition or religious doctrine or experiential wisdom transmitted from teacher to student. Mainly in the United States, but now also in all the Western world, the word guru is a marketing term used by ad agencies and the meaning of “guru” has been used to cover anyone who acquires followers.

How do these self-appointed social media gurus stay so up to date on not just Facebook’s algorithm, but also all those up and coming platforms in China that we haven’t yet heard of? “

B.L. Ochman pointed out how There Are 181,000 Social Media ‘Gurus,’ ‘Ninjas,’ ‘Masters,’ and ‘Mavens’ on Twitter  According to followerwonk, right now you can find over 8000 Twitter bios with “social media guru”.

In January 2013, the number of Twitter users with “social media” as part of their bio has grown to epic proportions. The list now tops 181,000 – up from a mere 16,000 when B.L. Ochaman first started tracking them in 2009

In an older post, I had already pointed out that self-appointment is not a good practice. Whatever is your expertise, the recommendations and planning you provide always needs to be backed up with valid references, data and experiences. Not because you use social media you should think you know how to use social media. Social media marketing requires a lot of think-through. Think that any brand’s or organization’s Facebook post went has gone through several levels of approval.

Digiday published the 24 Signs You Are Definitely a Social Media Guru. This Mashable-like piece is actually funny but I would advise aganst checking these signs in search for self-proclamation of guruness.



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