Social Media Experts With 5-7 Years of Experience?

The other day I was looking through job postings for fun and I came across several ads that ended up leaving me with a nagging question in the corner of my mind... At what point do we consider a person an expert? Most of us would expect an expert to have grey hair and a big Dr. in front of their name. However, this particular job title makes me rethink that idea -- Social Media Expert. The experience needed for this position seems fair at first: five to seven years. Five to seven years of experience in a field that doesn't really have five to seven years of existence.

When you think about it though, social media is still in its childhood. It was only born around the 2003-2004 time period. Not only that, but many people did not start using it as a place to find any kind of business until about 2009. So how many people exactly could be experienced in social media for five to seven years? Sounds like a pretty small job pool to me.

Actually the whole idea of determining expertise by time spent is a little presumptuous in the first place. This may be one job where time is not the best determination of expertise. An expert is usually someone who is very knowledgeable in their area. This is not always quantified by time, but by the accuracy and familiarity with a subject. An important piece to developing a social media presence is to make up a team that knows how to use social media as it works right now, and can forecast developing trends in the near and future.

Let's see... I guess I could say I have been messing around with LinkedIn, Myspace (hey a lot of people used it back then), Facebook and Twitter for five years. Does that make me an expert? I don't think five years of tweeting should be considered proof positive that I am qualified to lead an effective social campaign.

How about this? Instead of focusing on time spent in the field, it would make better sense to find someone who is well informed, has researched the area, can give a good presentation, has gotten to know the business's needs (after being given access to the necessary information), and who can adapt their strategy according to changing needs of the target groups.

The need for expertise in the area of social media is becoming more and more important to businesses and organizations of all sizes. They can guide the use of these sites to improve visibility and image. They breech the gap between physical and Internet images and follow new methods of 'word-of-mouth' referrals.

How a company intends to fill those positions with a requirement of five to seven years of experience is quite beyond my understanding. This is another area where businesses wishing to get into current trends and become effective will need to do a little more research on the subject to come up with new criteria that will more effectively draw in applicants who are qualified and have knowledge and direction to offer.