Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet meet and fall in love in Shakespeare’s epic tale.  The famous line

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

refers to Juliet’s explanation to Romeo that a name is an artificial and meaningless convention, and that she loves the person who is called “Montague”, not the Montague name.  I wonder if we can use this theory when we are talking about social media or more specifically, when we talk about social media “experts”.  Or, when it comes to this area, is a rose by any other name something other than a rose?

There’s seems to be a backlash toward social media professionals and the names we use for our titles.  To call ourselves “experts” or “gurus” in a field that is so new has put many social media professionals in quandary.  Article after article warns people against how they could get taken by someone calling themselves a social media “expert”, even if they are, in fact, an expert.  My title is Social Media Specialist.  I didn’t come up with this name, the company I work for did.  But I have to say I love the title.  My day-to-day responsibilities involve building communities, engaging the target audience, raising awareness about the client’s mission, sharing critical information and measuring our return on investment.  I like to think I am an expert in this regard, at least as it relates to my client.  In fact, as it relates to my other clients I like to think I’m also an expert.  Why is that a bad thing?  Wouldn’t you rather hire an expert than a neophyte?

While many social media professionals look for an identity that will position themselves as a reliable source without also seeming overly competent, names like “ninja”, “superstar”, “evangelist” (my favorite), “consultant” and “marketer” have become common place.  In a time when some people still don’t know what the term “social media” even means, I guess I should not be insulted that people have no idea what to call those of us who work in social media every day.

Here’s a quick down and dirty way to tell if your social media ___________ (insert title that makes you feel comfortable) is worth your time and money.  Find out if your social media professional can provide:

  1. References of someone they worked with
  2. Evidence of a strong online presence
  3. Ways to they measure ROI
  4. Strategies for community building
  5. Messaging for a social media campaign

If you find they have been able to address the above in a satisfactory fashion, by all means call them an expert… but you may want to keep it to yourself because in social media, a Rose is sometimes called by its other name… a perennial flower shrub.  Means the same thing but isn’t as pretentious.

Cartoon from the talented Hugh Macleod