Home Open Thread: Should Social Media Experts Be Required to Know Their Tech?

Open Thread: Should Social Media Experts Be Required to Know Their Tech?

Social media gurus: We all know one. If you’re lucky, you know only one.

They are the attendees of tech parties, the “Twitter consultants,” the armchair generals of the Internet, and their numbers grow by the day. Yet most of them couldn’t distinguish a line of code from a badly punctuated haiku.

What’s to be done with the social media experts? Accept that their blathering may contain some wisdom? Or require technical exams for all Twitter users with more than 1,000 followers? You decide! And make the NMDs among us take our “technical” quiz.

There is always grave danger when amateurs turn overnight into experts. This sub-professional clown town is where B movies and Soulja Boy come from. It’s also the birthplace of every blowhard who tells you you’re “doing it wrong” without any technical knowledge or original thought to back it up.

Sometimes, it’s not such a bad thing – in fact, there are a great many non-technical social media folks who are doing a great job of creating quality content and helping brands get themselved situated on the Web. But most of the people I can think of who fit this description have been doing their thing for so long that they’ve had to pick up a few technical tidbits along the way to ensure their continued success and to ensure they weren’t sounding like idiots.

However, I hold the strong opinion that if you’re working in technology – even as a PR flak or social media consultant – you should be able to understand some of the terms, concepts and people that make your business possible. Otherwise, you risk your own reputation by taking the chance that you’re scarily wrong or laughably vague, and you risk gumming up the works for your clients by not knowing how to communicate with their audience, many of whom are very technical folk.

Ultimately, taking the time and effort to understand the technology you use is simply a matter of taking pride in your work, just like the barista who knows all the ins and outs of the perfectly pulled free-trade organic espresso or the skilled sommelier who, though he may not make the wine himself, knows everything about who did and where and how.

Take this quick survey, my social media gurus. (Techies, don’t take the survey; you’ll skew the results.) If you can’t work out the answers, you might be sounding like an idiot – I tell you this because I’m your friend and I care about you. And remember, when you cheat, you’re only cheating yourself, so no Wikipedia for you.

Let me know in the comments what you think about the issue. Am I being an elitist prig? Did I not take my rant far enough? How much do you think a social media expert should know about tech? Would you work with someone who couldn’t sail through this “technical” survey?

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