Why it’s OK to be a social media guru

social media guruBy Mark W. Schaefer

There have been a lot of rants against inexperienced people putting out their shingle as a social media guru. One recent one by Scott Monty on his amazing new podcast was darn near poetic!

As a seasoned professional, it’s frustrating to see somebody competing in your field with next-to-zero experience. A person with a LinkedIn title of “social media guru” recently asked me how to set up a blog.

It can certainly be exasperating. After you’ve put in years (or decades in my case!) of hard work learning your craft, creating exceptional value, and building a brand, many of us cringe when we hear people dishing out naive advice about strategy.

But today I want to defend the new gurus. I want to celebrate anybody out there trying to make a go of it, no matter how young or inexperienced you may be. In fact, if I’m describing you, I want to encourage you to be a guru. I’m not being sarcastic. I really mean this.

You have a right to find your power

In almost every keynote speech I give, I hope to inspire people to create original content, discover their voice, and find their own place of influence on the web. You have to start somewhere.

Even if you’re young and inexperienced, go for it. You never know until you try and see what happens. We are living in an amazing time. The power today rests with anybody who has the will to create. I want everybody to find that power.

social media guru

There’s room for everybody

I have more than 30 years of frontline marketing experience. I have two masters degrees. I’ve written five books. You know, I have to think that I’m just not competing for the same customers as somebody just starting out!

This is a big wide world. There is room for everybody to prosper. We can all find our own niches. Come on in. You have a right to earn a living and if this is your dream, give it everything you’ve got and let me know what I can do to help you.

We all started small

Not one person emerged from the birth canal as a social media expert. We all had to start somewhere. We need to remember what it is like to be young.

I was nearly 50 when I blogged for the first time, and you know what? I still needed a hand. Early on I was encouraged by people like Jason Falls, Chris Brogan, Mitch Joel, and many others who aren’t even around any more. Their encouragement meant a lot to me, and believe me, I had no idea what I was doing.

We all started at zero. Remember what it is was like to fumble around. Remember how much you appreciated a hand from a pro. Send the elevator back down when you are in the position to do it.

Inspiration for the experienced pros

I am in awe of the Millennials. I’m inspired by their guts and wi-fi fearlessness. They are finding truly new ways to run a business. I want to learn at their feet.

When I was growing up in business, a lot of it sucked. Layoffs. Bureaucracy. Labor strikes. Asshole bosses (I was so tempted to put a link there).  We have a chance to learn from each other and forge a new way together.

Last week I was in Silicon Valley and learned that at LinkedIn, you can take music lessons on company time. I met people who coded their way into a viable new business in 24 hours. I know a desperately-broke young guy who created a business all by himself on his computer now worth millions.

The young people in the business may not have years of marketing experience, but they can still teach us new ways forward, carve new paths, teach us a unique way to look at the world.

So, come on in. Put up your shingle and give it your best shot. I will cheer you every step of the way.

Be a guru and be proud.

SXSW 2016 3Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant. The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

For the top illustration on this post, I doctored up a Flickr CC photo by Dan Zen.. The middle illustration is courtesy radkahund

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