Through a circuitous route, I got to thinking about experts.

Seems a Ketchum PR man who’s billed as a social media expert was on his way to present on social media (natch) to a key client, FedEx, at their headquarters in Memphis. Upon landing, he tweeted: “True confession but I’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say, ‘I would die if I had to live here.'” This got FedEx folks mad, which got lots of people interested and a fracas enused.

Folks in the communications world are still talking about the boneheaded tweet, pointing out that even in the world of social media, basic rules need to be followed.

(A long time ago, I learned that when making a call on a client, you wait until you are well out of the building and on the way back, in the car, to discuss any aspect of the meeting with your colleagues. Not in the elevator, not in the hallway, not in the bathroom. This is the 21st century example of that dictum.)

Other commnications pros are jeering, pointing out that this social media gaffe was by a social media “expert.” One person pointed out that, at the time of The Bad Tweet, he had just about 1,000 followers (which is a lot but not rockstar status). How is this guy an “expert?” they are saying.

That’s a fair questions but I would flip it on its side: Are there experts in social media? 

Dave Fleet says he used to think it silly to talk about experts in social media — but now he sees the usefulness of it. The area has grown up enough for there to be experts. Another person says, however, that calling someone an expert in social media is “like saying you’re an email expert.”

But, there are experts in email, making lots of money. Some of them do good work, others are all sound and fury. It’s probably the same in social media. The fundamental question is not how big your follower litst is, or whether people see you as an “influencer” or “collaborator” (though those can be markers). The question, as one commenter at David Fleet’s article says, is: “Can you help me make some money?” 

We’re seeing “old” and “new” rub up against one another, “big” and “little”, “social” and “push.” Some rules are changing, and even older rules are becoming yet more important. But one — results matter — remains.