How Social Media and Search Redefine Expert / Guru

    March 12, 2007

Search marketing & social media have forever re-defined the way we find, qualify and think about expert and guru. Anyone with a website or online presence can put the word expert or guru next to their name, publish an article on whatever they want and market it to the world.

When online users vote for the article on the social media sites, other bloggers link to this article, and generally the ideas are either embraced or refuted. The article may then end up ranking for the key terms associated with his or her profession. The word without reference has lost meaning and the way a real expert or guru is viewed online has to do with if the online community has embraced them or not, or whether they can market to an audience and then perform or verify what they said /claim is actually true.

I’ve read on seomoz and other popular search marketing blogs how some people think this is negative and somehow it hurts the use of the term. I think it’s exciting that the words “expert” or “guru” no longer necessitate BS politics, organization memberships or the “buddy buddy” concept. You don’t need anyone’s permission to publish, to reach an audience and deliver any message you want, period.

Like never before, it’s first about marketing to an audience and second performing based on / validating your marketing’s claims. Since everyone can claim whatever they want, it’s now up the person making the statements to backup what they say with evidence, and real world performance.

New “experts” or “gurus” can rise from obscurity to being worth multiple millions of dollars and they don’t need anyone’s permission or any organization membership or even any college degrees or professional endorsements. They simply have to be able to market to an audience and perform on what they claim.

It’s a very powerful concept and I’m glad the old power plays restricting access to the guru category are permanently broken.

If you can make a claim, market it to right audience and then perform / validate your claim, you’re in as an “expert” “guru” “trendsetter” “A-lister”, “visionary” etc. You’re free to market yourself as an expert and don’t require the old industry pros to like / endorse you. It’s a new world and you can talk directly to your audience without anyone in between. However, it can be a double-edged sword, because if you are too quick to call yourself an expert or guru, and you can’t live up to the claim, prepare to experience a backlash fueled by an army of bloggers and social networks.