In the ongoing debate over the existence of social media experts, people point to the ever changing landscape of social media as their evidence that there’s no such thing as experts. The anti-expert side argues that the mere fact that social media tools pop in and out of existence, or that they dramatically change their operations, somehow changes the way social media works completely.

Since social media and its tools are ever-changing, they argue, there can’t be social media experts.

It’s all crap because social media expertise has nothing to do with the tools or how rapidly the landscape changes.

Rather, effective social media marketing depends on your marketing skills and ability, rather than how you use Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.

To be an expert, you need the foundational skills. The tools don’t make a bit of difference. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn don’t matter. Those will go away in a number of years, but the skills you need to effectively use them will be needed for their replacement.

A carpenter’s skills don’t change when he switches from a hammer to a pneumatic nailer. You hire him for his building skills, not the number of hours he’s spent swinging a hammer.

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A writer doesn’t forget everything she knows just because she switches from a typewriter to a computer, changes from a yellow legal pad to a Moleskine notebook, or even switches favorite brands of pen. You read her books because she knows how to tell a good story.

Computer programmers don’t lose their skills and experience just because they got a new computer.

The tools don’t make a bit of difference. As Chris Brogan once said, no one ever asked Hemingway what pencils he used to write his books (actually, he typed them, but that’s beside the point).

You’re not an expert because of the tools, you’re an expert because of the knowledge the tools unlock.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re proficient at Facebook or Twitter. We’re reaching the stage where saying you’re good at those tools is like saying you’re good at using Word or a web browser. You’re expected to know how to use Word and a web browser. You’re getting to the point where you need to know how to operate Facebook and Twitter.

The question is do you have the skills to use them effectively. Because the tools are going to change in a few years, but the skills will still be important.

Focus on knowing how to communicate and reach people the most effectively. If you can do that, then you can be an expert at it, because the tools won’t matter.

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