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Social Media Scouts

There is so much discussion about social media happening right now that it can be a little daunting

There is so much discussion about social media happening right now that it can be a little daunting. Think about all of the text that has been devoted to the topic, the podcasts and the videos that are trying to teach all of us how to be successful. The truth is no one is a "guru" or expert in the known use of the word. What we have is a few people that are able to take the time to learn faster than others because they are focused on the topic. Some of them have the benefit of being with large analyst organizations and this is all they do because the analyst organizations knows it's a hot topic.

Instead of Social Media Experts, perhaps they should be called Social Media Scouts. So many times I see a video by an "expert" and they are telling me about something they learned in the last few days. My view is that a few days advantage on the rest of us hardly makes one an expert. Does their discovery represent positive long term value? It could be valuable, it's just too early to tell. Just because something we use is quick and cool, this should not be interpreted as having protracted traction. A scout has the responsibility to observe and evaluate changing conditions quickly. Think of all of the old western films that had scouts in them and their responsibilities. What they were asked to do basically is make sure a wagon train of people got safe passage on what was an arduous and dangerous journey. What about the first time the scout led a few families through a mountain pass he had only seen a few times in the Rockies? Do you think the scout was feeling like an expert that day? He was probably very nervous and rightfully so. But the people in the wagon train wanted to believe he was an expert and so he was.

There is little doubt in my mind that social media is disrupting marketing. I am learning things rights now that turn the old style of getting interest right on its ear and I am having fun. There are things I am learning to do that I haven't heard anyone talk about yet and that means I'm potentially a scout too. My central point here is to make sure we all remember that we are all learning together and at times sharing that learning. There are no "experts" yet, but we do have professionals that are focused on the topic with a flashlight in their hand to tell us what they are seeing first and where we are going. That's okay. In fact it's refreshing to think that in the middle of the formation of something big, we are all learning and sharing together. This could be the first time we all get a good view of the way many products and services will be designed in the near future.

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More Stories By John Ryan

John is an experienced leader with a strong background of defining and executing company strategies. He is especially skilled in channel management, market analysis, brand marketing and selling technology products and services. He has successfully served in a number of executive positions and has been in management for 20 years. John is currently writing a book on increasing revenue generation. He has been a co-author of a comprehensive marketing methodology for high tech companies and has helped venture capitalists and private equity firms gauge their technology investments. In 2004, John served as Vice President of Marketing for the NA arm of the $6B IT Services division of Siemens, AG. John served on the board of directors at WebTrends, purchased by NetIQ (NTIQ) for $1 billion in 2001. WebTrends was highly successful dominating the web site analysis and reporting space. Prior to WebTrends, John was the Vice President of Marketing for Tivoli Systems. John has worked as a contracted consultant for established companies, start ups and top analyst firms. John can be reached at [email protected] or you can follow him on Twitter @buyersteps