In his most excellent article, The History and Evolution of
Social Media (http://bit.ly/hadhZv), Cameron Chapman states that the precursors
of SM started with Usernets (Newsgroups) and BBS’s (Bulletin Board Services) as
early as 1977. According to Chapman, modern SM started with dating sites and
forums 20 years later (1997), including sites such as Six Degrees and
LiveJournal, as well as MMORPG’s (Massive Multi-player Online Role Playing
Games), like World of Warcraft. He further states that the first true online
community network was Friendster, in 2002. At the time of this writing, that
makes Social Media as we currently know it less than a decade old.
Such information makes claims of having 10+ years of
experience in SM somewhat dubious. Giving benefit for argument to the contrary (with
allowance of credit for activity with earlier outriders), anything greater than
14 years experience is disputable.
Expertise is defined by Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expert)
as, ” … a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research,
experience, or occupation and in a particular area of study.” The keyword
here is and. Both real world practice and formal education.
Dictionary.com (http://bit.ly/gkG4f4) describes an expert as skilled and
While it is difficult (for me, at least) to determine the
earliest Social Media/Internet marketing educational programs, the text,
e-Commerce: business. technology. society, by K.C. Laudon and C.G. Traver, was
published in 2007, by Pearson – Prentice Hall. At best, this places formal
training curriculums beginning at or about mid-decade.
There is no argument that SM professionals exist. Such
industry leaders have in fact elevated Social Media to its current status as
the most used function of the World Wide Web, even surpassing the access of
adult content. However, time to become a defined expert with both an advanced degree
specifically in Social Media, as well as having enough work place participation
to qualify as an expert, has not passed;
some human resource executives describe authentication levels as: graduation to
3 years, entry level; 3-7 years, experienced; greater than 7 years, expert.
The protests against the need for academics in Social Media
that are often offered would seem to fly in the face of concerns about ROI in
online media marketing efforts. One communications administrator said that SM
was simply another form of communication, like cell phones, and certainly no
schooling was needed for their use. Yet, would one hire programing, Web design, or network maintenance/security personnel, without proper training?
Proposals for innovation in SM marketing and management
practices can be found aplenty. The majority of postings on such sites as
Social Media Today, Social Media Club, SocialMediopolis, etc., are listings of
what successful SM campaigns should or should not be. Yet such agendas rarely,
if ever, mention the need for scholastics.
It is easy to imagine that in the future the need for
education in SM will become a given. One observant person said that change is
akin to the mating of elephants: it takes place at high levels, occurs amidst
much stomping and shouting, and requires two years to produce results. 😉 That recognized experts will one day man the helm of Social Media management seems destined. For now, we will have to wait.