Ranty Friday — Social Media experts, gurus and mavens

On Ranty Friday this week I am talking about social media experts, gurus and mavens.  You know the ones.

Mavens.  Did you even know the word existed?   Well apparently it does and is often used these days in relation to social media.  Along many other synonyms.

When it comes to social media these days I see more and more people calling themselves one of these terms.   But seriously, can you be an expert in something that has no rules?    There are no rules to Social Media, there are ways of doing things, suggestions about what might work, what might engage your readers, but are there any rules?

Are there buggery.

Let me tell you a story.

Last year Mr B and I were invited to dinner in one of those clubs in that London that is for members only.   That you often see really cool people leaving from when you flick through Hello at the dentist.  That has a waiting list as long as your arm for membership and even if you get to the top of the list you need to be vetted, approved, give your inside leg measurement and probably a large chunk of your income.   But hell is it worth it.

We got there slightly early and were shown to a table in the bar (our names on the door, obviously) to await the arrival of our host.  Somebody I had been Tweeting for months and months.  Somebody in show business who knows all sorts of household names and who I had got on well with over tweets and text conversations late at night when the time difference was more in their favour than mine.

But up to that point we hadn’t actually met.   About ten minutes after meeting and a glass of wine down our host looked at me and said “i am really surprised you are you, actually”.  You see our host was convinced that from the Tweets I sent, the people I talked to and the way I talked to them that I was part of some social media experiment and that they were about to appear on some kind of “You’ve been framed” type programme.

“But I have been watching you tweeting Sally Bercow like you are best friends and she invited you to Prime Minister’s Questions”

“Um, yes, she did”

“And all those famous people that follow you, and that you chat to like you actually know them and have done for years”

“Well, that’s just me”

Does that make me an expert in social media?


I have won a prize for Social Media, does that make me an expert?


Could I run a social media campaign for a company?


It simply means that I know what works for me, personally.

Now let’s get something straight here, I am not talking about people that run social media for companies, or put together and get involved in campaigns.   Nor am I talking about people who do actually call themselves the above names.

What I am talking about, is individuals that sell services to other individuals telling them how to run their personal social media.    For up to £200 a day.    They are not advising companies on how to engage their audience, no, I think they do a great job as they know what they are doing and really can boost a company’s profile online.   These are people are telling people like me “This is what works on social media and I can tell you how to do it” .

It is madness.   How on earth can one person tell another person what to do on Twitter or how to use it.   It’s personal.  It is your feed.    You use it how you like.   As much or as little as like and say what you like (within reason).

I get really flipping grumpy about they way some people do follow Friday stuff on Twitter.   I also get really grumpy when you get tagged in a conversation but don’t particpate and eight hours later the same conversation is still going but has gone off on a tangent that you care even less about that you did the original conversation.

But that is just me.   I hate it.  Others don’t.   So should I preach those as rules and take money from people for imparting this advice?

“Follow everybody who follows you”

Behave.   I am not following people I don’t want to, or who just tweet copy and pasted quotes or who constantly auto tweet stuff and don’t interact with people.

“When somebody follows you, send them a direct message to thank them and send them a link to your blog”

Shut up.  Do that to me and I will unfollow you again

Two rules I have seen people being instructed to do.   These are not rules.   And whilst they might work for some people.  They don’t work for me, or the people that follow me.

The biggest interaction I get on Twitter is to ask who wants a cuppa at 6.30am.   I can guarantee that is not in any rule book.

Maybe I SHOULD become a social media guru who tells people what to do on Twitter.

Anybody got £200 they want to send my way?  You can have that tip about the tea for free, the rest you need to pay for.

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  • Thank you! Love your blogs. This one is probably the best I’ve ever read on Social Media.
    You’re a star. Thanks for continuing to inform & educate and, most importantly give us a b***dy good laugh!!
    Can’t wait to share!!!! 🙂

    • hee hee thanks Lisa. I do like to make sure my rants are not TOO ranty. So I am glad it made you laugh a bit

  • Oooh, well said! I’ve dropped out of so many “clubs” and “cliques” over the last two years or so because of these ‘know-alls’ and the way they seem to think they have a God-given right to preach to all and sundry how to use social media. I’ve had a few tips, especially for Twitter, and some have been really useful, but it really is a very individual thing and blogging in particular has NO RULES! The amount of blog posts I’ve read over the years telling people how to blog is pretty unbelievable.

    I don’t follow celebrities because I find they never interact but I know you have a different outlook on that side of social media. I have followed tons of writers and find that the majority of them never chat on Twitter but just promote their work – and those automated DMs are just pathetic. They are a definition of ‘desperately seeking fans’.

    CJ x

    • And that is exactly my point. People follow different people for different reasons. I know people who don’t follow companies. Whereas i do. I dont follow people like GaGa or Beiber though as we all know, gazillions do. But the celebs I follow are those I have met or who do talk to people.

      But I totally understand why you may not, or why others may not.

      And I love that authors are on Twitter. I love reading a book and then tweeting them to tell them how much enjoyed it. Or keeping quiet if I didnt!

    • well as guru is actually a religious leader and I could get quite religious about tea that works for me. Come worship at my kettle, child.

  • Love it! I once came across a twitter profile where she’d managed to describe herself as a social media guru, maven, diva, godess and more all without a hint of sarcasm.

  • Maven is my new word of the week. And well said, I don’t like rules, and part of the joy of social media is the ability to be yourself, an individual, and as such you should act by your own individual instincts, not a set of rules. Where is the fun in rules?! Ditto for blogs actually, I also loathe being told how to run my blog. ‘You’ may choose to do it that way, but I will be over here doing my own thing thanks! Embrace the differences people, rather than trying to make everyone the same!

    • Totally agree with blog rules. Or rather the lack of them.

      Unless it is my rule that all fonts must be over 12pts so I can actually read them 🙂

  • I think the only social media rule should be being polite to each other and not saying something that you wouldn’t say to someone else’s face…?
    Some ways of using social media work well for some people and not for others. I don’t have time for rules, etiquette, and “this is how it should be done or you can’t be part of our club” stuff.
    Excellent post. I think you should be a guru. Guru Mummy Barrow has a nice ring to it? 🙂

    • I agree. It is all too easy to bully from behind a computer, isnt it ?

      GMB has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it?

  • Brilliant! I have actually worked in social media agencies for various companies but i still wholeheartedly agree.

    Best job title i have heard – social media ninja. For real.

  • I frequently get forwarded “top social media tips” emails at work and the faces I pull when reading them apparently make good watching. I hate the DM’s asking me to follow both on FB and Twitter and it isn’t the “call to action” that those top tips tell me it is – exactly the opposite! If we all used social media in the same way it would be exceptionally boring and full of cheesy DM’s…

    Oh, and if the kettle’s on, I’ll have an earl grey please – bit of milk too, if that doesn’t offend the Tea Guru too much x

  • So agree. The whole direct message thing does my head in. Mostly because I can’t delete them all in one go, so end up with lots sitting there I didn’t want in the first place! If you know how to delete all DMs – pray do tell, as I’d love to know.

  • Love this post. Twitter and other social media so called rules can often intimidate people who just want to use it “their way”….and makes them leave. So we end up with a feed full of so called guro’s.

  • I agree about following people, I look at their tweets & profile. If I have nothing in common I don’t follow. I also find the ’25 followers 8 un-followers’ thing a bit odd. If someone un-follows thats ok, You are definitely right about the conversation tag, I just leave when I’ve said my piece.

  • Amen to THAT! I cannot be doing with rules, since some days I just don’t feel very social. I like the free and easy approach. Those that DO follow the rules you can spot a mile off and I always find it mega off-putting… Hurrah for tea!

  • Brilliant. That post there sounds just like you on Twitter. Say it how it is. And that auto DM thing gets right on my nerves! And TruTwit validation services? I mean, who on earth has the time for that!?

    • Oh and talking of validation. When I followed Mount Gay rum I got an auto DM telling me I had to confirm I was over 18 and if I didn’t do it they would block me

      Corporate responsibility a step too far me thinks.

  • Those of us of a certain age and musical leaning remember Tom Tom Club’s Genius of Love mentioning “the maven of funk mutation”.
    That’s where the use of the word starts and ends for me!
    Great blog though. Spot on, as always. Mount Gay is obviously good for the little grey cells.

  • A very refreshing post! A mummy barrow cult, with clandestine initiation ceremonies, included? If they consist of lots of tea drinking and cake eating, I am in.

    I am finding all those social media tips and rules (so-called rules) annoying mostly, too time consuming and a waste of time anyway. I absolutely detest receiving DMs on Twitter from people who I have just followed, and I have promptly unfollowed because of this on more than one occasion. If sending a DM is one of the above rules then it clearly doesn’t work! Where do these ‘gurus’ get their ideas from? Sounds to me they often make it up as they go along.

    I don’t follow everyone who follows me either, as I check their profile and the type of posts they publish to decide if there could be a common interest. And it is niggling when I then find that their profile etc is private and can only be viewed once I am ‘validated’. Pfft. I don’t need their tweets in my stream then, I have obviously not missed them so far, and if they wish to follow me without interacting that’s up to them, but that is how it will be.

    The only rule that I can see any sense in – but which unfortunately is blatantly ignored in a lot of posts and comments everywhere – is to be polite and civil. Not much to ask for. Unless a certain mobile phone provider is driving you up the wall, that is 😉

    Erm, is tea still on? Black, no milk or sugar please.

  • Great post and so true, I hate it when I am still tagged in a convo that I have had no participation in. I live twitter but its something I just dip in and out of when I have the time. As for rules, aren’t they meant to be broken anyway?? 😉

  • I haven’t joined twitter yet. Been a bit nervous about where I even start when I do join…soon. Feel a lot better after reading your post though! Will avoid the mavens, divas, rules but perhaps just have a cup of tea.

  • Well ‘there are no rules’ is a rule really. 😉 Problem is, on the Internet in general, that people interact “intimately” that otherwise wouldn’t. Acting as if one was someone’s closest friend after a second of first encounter actually is a social disorder in the real world attributed to child abuse. Not on the Internet it isn’t. Let’s see: mankind probably took a hundred thousand years to adapt to living in groups larger than, say, 130 members (the “Dunbar number”), then cities, then subways/tubes … maybe they take another few generations to adapt to Web 2.0. My guess.