Shel Holtz Responds: We Are Experts in Social Media

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]My entries have been quite explicit that experts in social media do not exist — at least not yet. Charlatans abound claiming that expertise. I’ve written several pieces (along with others who agree) including the Five Myths About Social Media. Shel Holtz took issue with this and wrote his own piece, which I responded, Social Media Experts: May Not Be Rocket Science But What We Have Here Is a Failure to Launch… a Strong Argument. I posted it to Mr. Holtz blog entries and he responded. Rather than leave the response hanging out at the bottom of some post, I thought it deserved appropriate highlight, so here we go. My response appears in the next entry.[/box]

In the spirit of intellectual discussion — as opposed to simple arguing — I’d like to take issue with several of your conclusions (both from this post and your comment on my blog).


[quote style=”boxed”]But blogs are more public relations and earn a spot on the journalism side of the equation[/quote]
Journalists would argue vehemently that PR is a business activity, as would every practitioner in the world. The use of blogs by business — whether for marketing, PR or other purposes — is a business social media activity.
[quote style=”boxed”]Most businesses — if they’ve considered blogging at all — it’s been to tap into the influential bloggers.[/quote]
And there’s no expertise required to engage in effective, ethical blogger outreach? Not that I agree with your statement. Look at the list of Fortune 500 companies with blogs ( or just the list of hospitals that are blogging ( and you’ll see just how faulty your assumption is. “Naked Conversations” addressed corporate blogging as early as 2006.

[quote style=”boxed”]It’s not like a corporate Facebook or Twitter account, where strategy must be completely different.[/quote]

I would argue that all of these are tactics, not strategies. The strategy is the overall approach you take to achieving a business goal. You then set measurable objectives, then employ tactics and tools. How you use each of these tools — blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Quora, you name it, depends on the objectives you’re trying to achieve.


[quote style=”boxed”]If Mr. Holtz wants to pretend to be an expert and ‘in control’ of the conversation still, he can be.[/quote]

Despite the grammar problem here (be pretend?), you clearly haven’t read much of my body of work. I’ve been saying for at least two decades that companies are no longer in control of the message (if they ever have been), and that they need to transition to a culture of engagement and advocacy if they want to influence the conversation.


[quote style=”boxed”]All of the experts right now know one-way and have begun to dabble in two-way.[/quote]

I hope you have some evidence to support this assertion. Public relations (as opposed to marketing and advertising) has ALWAYS been about two-way communication (I suggest you read some of the literature, like “Excellence in Public Relations and Communication Management”). I don’t know a qualified expert who advises that companies apply social media to one-way, top-down communication.


[quote style=”boxed”]Social media ‘experts’ usually lack the appropriate knowledge to prove solid, financial ROI that bottom-line examiners need to see.[/quote]

I’d like to see the evidence to support this assertion, as well. Brilliant people like Katie Paine have been establishing standards for analyzing the effectiveness of social media efforts and determining ROI. Companies like Radian6 are constantly updating and tweaking the analytics used to support some of those assessments. The body of literature companies can apply to their evaluation efforts continues to grow. While some of those who proclaim themselves experts do not, indeed, avail themselves of these resources, shame on companies who hire them. The true experts — those who meet the criteria for being an expert — certainly do. Companies should ask the right questions of anybody they hire to ensure they’re obtaining the best advice.


I’ve written a new post that addresses your belief that social media requires more time to mature. My key point is that the volume of knowledge accumulated to date is more than adequate for expertise to emerge. The post is here:


I welcome your response.

Shel HoltzShel Holtz, ABC (Accredited Business Communicator), is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology. Mr. Holtz brings to his assignments nearly 35 years of organizational communications experience in both corporate and consulting environments. Mr. Holtz website is available at He can be followed on Twitter at @shelholtz.


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Michael Cheek

With more than 20 years of communication experience, Michael Cheek offers solid marketing expertise, especially in the digital frontier. He currently resides in Georgia but he's open to relocate anywhere the opportunities take him. Learn more at You can follow him on Twitter at and see more about his professional experience at Reach him via e-mail at

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