Guest post: What does it take to be a Social Media Guru©?


There’s no piece of paper that says you’re a marketer.

Well, a Bachelor of Commerce, but let’s not be so literal.

We come from all kinds of backgrounds. Some come up through the creative side, writing or designing ads. Some are business school grads.

Because of this diversity and lack of oversight, you also get your layer of pretenders without much practical experience.

Social media marketing and the self-branding smokescreen of virtual life are bringing such self-styled gurus out of the woodwork, with thousands of “social experts” clamouring for attention.

This is really annoying to some people, though I think personal hubris is a quality of stars and that people with real ideas deserve a chance, however “proletarian” their roots. And anyway, the lack of official permission makes for an exciting Wild West meritocracy, in all stripes of marketing.

Though there are no hard and fast qualifications to be a marketer, there are many knowledge and skill sets that are darn useful when it comes to social media marketing.

Let’s take a look at the qualities that shine in the online persuasion space. All definitions from

Marketing (mar’ki-ting)

The act or process of buying and selling in a market.

Well that’s pretty interesting right there. Selling is a component of marketing, but so is buying. Marketers are consumers too. Put your customer hat on and see how your social media efforts look.

Communication (kuh-myoo-ni-key-shuhn)

The imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.

Hey, there’s a pretty broad spectrum there. Are you a great talker with a big smile? Make a video! Is visual language your thing? Design it without words. Use your strengths to convey your message.

Strategic thinking (struh-tee-jik thing-king)

A plan, method, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result.

Believe it or not, goals were not big in early social media. Everyone just set out to make friends without setting up metrics. How do you know you’re there if you don’t know where you’re going?

Psychology (sahy-kol-uh-jee)

The science of human behaviour.

Social media is about interacting with … people! People have a host of very easy to recognize (and manipulate, not that marketers ever do that) motivations. Know when to stroke egos, suggest inclusion, and foster tribalism.

Sociology (soh-see-ol-uh-jee)

The science of the fundamental laws of social relations.

Gee, what could be more useful to a community builder? Understand the interaction of content producers, joiners, lurkers, the people who comment and the people who brandvocate for you. Give them what they need to do what they want to do.

It comes down to understanding people.

Marketers are people who venture into the market – and let that conjure up a big ole’ funky flea market, rife with vintage delights, quirky gems and stuff you’ve never seen before, all fitting together in unexpected ways – and fulfill people’s needs.

If you’re useful, friendy, and facilitate people’s goals in the online space, hey … you’re a social media marketer!

Contributed by the wonderful Erica Glasier.

Erica makes things (including the illustration with this post) and writes things.

She also tweets for Tactica Interactive Communications, a Winnipeg-based interactive agency.


  1. Nice post. I liked it a lot. I think the first step to becoming a social media guru is never referring to yourself as one. ;-)

    Also while I totally agree with the qualities you've listed, I also think you need to add Anthropology, the study of the origins and social relationships of human beings. I believe there is a fundamental difference between sociology and anthropology. Sociologists study society, and anthropologists study culture.

    Anyway I won't continue to ramble. Nice post.

  2. Hi thanks Liz for your comment on clay pets and your tip to go to ittiy bitties. They are great, I will definitely do a feature on them, I love the two dogs with capes and masks.
    Oh, by the way, I'm a brit gal living in Victoria BC. I moved here from London about 8 years ago.

  3. EricaGlasier says

    Great point, Craig! I actually think the list could go on forever. Fashion sense. Taste in movies. A flair for news, the arts, everything that could possibly make you an interesting person to know.

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