How to Hire a Social Media “Expert”

How to Hire a Social Media “Expert”

July 22, 2015 by

So much good news in today’s world of social media—more specifically, for the world of church communications. What used to be a quirky oddity has become pretty much accepted. What was once considered a completely dehumanizing form of communication is now increasingly viewed as a welcome way to share faith, build community and provide pastoral care. Conversations about whether anyone should use social media have finally shifted to ones about when and how to use it for ministry. Good news indeed.

And the bad news?

We now have oh-so-many experts. Or to put it another way, so many “experts.” Not to mention gurus and ninjas and rock stars. Do all these experts have proven expertise? Of course not, but how would you know? I recommend taking these three factors into consideration before following (or paying for) expert advice about using social media for church:

1. Length of Time on Social Media

Have these experts used social media long enough to experience significant changes in social networking platforms? How about long enough to understand when and how some platforms work—and when they don’t or won’t? Do some research. Most social networking platforms make it easy to find anyone’s start date. For Twitter, using will speed up the process.

Digital technology morphs fast and has forever changed time and timing. People can get up-to-speed on social media relatively quickly, especially if it has become a key part of their daily work (e.g., if you’re a director/manager of communications).

For the record, I do believe motivated users can become reasonably competent after three months and super competent after only one year of actively using these tools, but that still doesn’t make them experts. How are they using these platforms? For example, someone who signed onto Twitter in 2009 but only uses it sporadically and primarily for self-promotion is not an expert—not about Twitter and certainly not about social media strategy. Next up: the strategic and tactical use of social media.

2. Types of Engagement on Social Media

How do these “experts” use social media? Review their Twitter streams and Facebook pages, as well as Instagram and Pinterest accounts. Check out LinkedIn profiles and their LinkedIn activity in membership groups. Review who these experts follow/friend, as well as who follows/friends them. Dig around to assess the quality of activity. What do you see? (Tip: A never-ending stream of links to curated content does not demonstrate expertise.)

Social networking tools were initially developed for conversation, and this remains their core strength. Experts actively participate. They jump into informal conversations about social media best practices and contribute generously during formal online gatherings (e.g., tweet chats). They post comments that include practical tips.

People who breeze in and out of online conversations to do little more than throw shade or promote their own expertise are not experts—especially if they do so on only one social media platform. And this brings me to my third point: Social media experts know how to use more than one platform.

Social networking tools were initially developed for conversation. Experts actively participate.

3. Variety of Social Media Platforms

Where, exactly, are these experts being experts? One platform? Two? More? How many more and which ones?

Different social networking platforms attract different, albeit sometimes overlapping audiences. Tactics need to be adjusted to accommodate differences among platforms. I believe that people with longtime and consistent participation on one platform have earned the right to claim expertise on that one platform. True social media experts can explain nuanced differences among platforms.

Find Real Experts for Your Church

So there you have it, my top three criteria for assessing those who claim social media expertise.

Years ago, just about anyone could—and did—claim the status of expert after setting up at least one account (usually Twitter) without bringing down the Interwebs.

In 2009, many of us LOL’d as we lip synced this edgy, borderline offensive (to some) video. These media were new, and we were new to them. Not anymore. Now there really are experts, and if you’re seeking guidance, you need to know who might legitimately qualify as one.

So, practically speaking, how might you do that? Ask other church communicators who they’d recommend. Who are their go-to experts? Post the general question in public and then use the back channel to get more detailed scoop. Finally, pay attention to who swiftly provides recommendations anchored in personal experience. You might even discover an expert.

Photo by mkhmarketing.
Post By:

Meredith Gould

Meredith Gould, ​creator of the #chsocm hashtag and weekly chat, is the author of nine books including The Social Media Gospel: Sharing the Good News in New Ways, now in its second edition. ​Learn more:​.
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8 Responses to “How to Hire a Social Media “Expert””

  • Darryl Schoeman
    July 23, 2015

    I truly appreciate and value the work that comes out of Church Marketing Sucks, and even this latest post has very important points.

    But I am deeply concerned with the video clip that was promoted in this post, even more aghast that despite the statement by the author acknowledging that it may be offensive to some, it was still used. Whilst I do not live in a box and acknowledge that there are a great many people who use this very same foul language as their normal manner of conversation, it is simply not acceptable that a Christian website promote such foul language use. This type of open and blatant use of foul language portrays the incorrect image of Christ and Christianity. Whilst we are to be IN the world, we are not to be OF the world.

    The use of this video clip on your website communicates the message that Church Marketing Sucks finds foul language use acceptable, flagrantly disregarding the Biblical injunction to “… not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths …” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV). I would urge you to reconsider this.

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    • Kevin D. Hendricks
      July 24, 2015

      Darryl: We warned you! Didn’t we warn you?

      The Bible never gives a list of swear words we’re not allowed to say, does it? The word used in the video wasn’t even around when the Bible was written. So what is “unwholesome talk”? I’d argue that it has more to do with whether or not we’re saying things to people in love than what specific words we’re using. I think being in the world requires us to be able to hear words like that without cringing. It’s simply part of our culture. If you want to get nitpicky, the verse you’re quoting is talking about what comes out of your mouth, not what’s used in an online video by someone else.

      In all seriousness, the larger point here is that Christians disagree on things. You have a specific standard on language that’s different than the one I have. Other people have an even more conservative stance on language (they write in complaining about our name). That’s fine. I’m respecting your stance (and one many others would share) by giving a warning before linking to the video. Some people have no problem watching the video, so I think it’s valuable for them because it illustrates Meredith’s point. For everybody else–hey, it might be offensive. If that’s a problem for you, don’t click the link.

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      • Darryl Schoeman
        August 5, 2015

        Dear Kevin,

        Thank you for your response.

        A warning that something may be offensive does not absolve oneself from the responsibility of the damage that is caused by the use of the offensive medium. And so to state that you warned us, does change the fact that the use of the video does more damage to the cause of Christ than what it does to build it up. When one knowingly posts something that may cause offense, then one has deliberately chosen to in fact cause that offense. It has not slipped out as may happen in live speech, but it has been planned and deliberately executed.

        Yes, I clicked on the link despite being warned. I clicked on it thinking that with this website being a Christian concern, the offense would not be so great. And indeed, I could have stomached the first profanity as it aptly communicated how a secular may have in fact responded. But the continued use of profanity to “drive the point home” was simply too much. And it is to this continued use that I objected.

        Further to your response above, your interpretation of the Scripture I quoted was that the unwholesome talk was not specifically with reference to the use of profane language itself, but rather to the “whether or not we’re saying things to people in love”. This video clip did nothing but belittle a particular group of people. By your own interpretation then, the video contained a great deal of unwholesome talk.

        Yes, Christians disagree on many things. But this still does not absolve us of setting a Christ-like standard. If you can convince yourself that Jesus would happily approve of the speech in this video being used by His followers, then we would indeed have to agree to disagree.

        God bless

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        • Darryl Schoeman
          August 5, 2015

          I see a typo above…

          Where I stated “And so to state that you warned us, does change the fact that the use of the video does more damage to the cause of Christ than what it does to build it up” it should in fact read with a NOT … “And so to state that you warned us, does NOT change the fact that the use of the video does more damage to the cause of Christ than what it does to build it up”

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  • Eric Dye
    July 23, 2015

    At the same time, I see many churches unable to get an actual *expert* and need to simply find someone who is familiar with the space enough to understand what does and doesn’t work.

    I also sniggle at many whom claim guru/ninja/expert. LOL

    Great stuff Meredith.

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    • Meredith Gould
      July 23, 2015

      Thanks, Eric. I’m receiving a lot of back channel comments along the lines of, “thanks for calling all that out.” My next post will be about the use of the word “space” and possible also “engagement.” Kidding! Sorta.

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  • Angie
    July 26, 2015

    Please, please, PLEASE write about the use of “space” and “engagement.” I’m SO over those words.

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    • Meredith Gould
      July 28, 2015

      Oooo! Angie…”space” and “engagement”…and there are so many many others. I’ll see what I can put together. And bless you for being SO over those words, now go forth and share the gospel about *that*.

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