Social Media Gurus, Real Work and Diversity

Social media guru

This is a guest post by Olivier Blanchard.

Earlier this year, Danny wrote a post about social media diversity, that received a fair bit of conversation both on his blog, and away from it.

Maybe diversity has nothing to do with it, though. Maybe the answer is far simpler than that.

From where I stand, it says something about 30-40 year old white dudes that so many of them feel compelled to spend all day talking about social media and how to get better at social media, and how to make more money with social media and how to get more followers on social media and how to be more time-efficient on social media and how to measure their influence on social media and how to get jobs through social media and how to become speakers and experts and gurus and f***ing ninjas on social media, and everyone else doesn’t.

Maybe the fact that no one else does this is because most other people out there in the real world are more concerned with solving real problems than becoming the next Seth Godin?

And because these folks are out there doing real work instead of pontificating about Google + or investing in one another on Empire Avenue, they neither have time nor feel the need to create idealized versions of themselves on the interwebs (you know, a version in which they are brilliant and cool and successful instead of being your garden variety slob.)

No Diversity? Think Again

I could be wrong, but from where I stand, there is no diversity problem in social media. I see every religion, nationality, ethnicity, culture and community represented in the social web. You know why? Because I, like you, see beyond the glow of our own little imaginary twitternet stars. The guys I learn from are in Asia. In Africa. In Europe. In the Middle East. In Latin America. They aren’t just SxSW and Blogworld speakers. They aren’t experts or gurus either.

The only real problem touching on diversity I see in the “social media space” is this: About four dozen assholes in the US and Canada making up an imaginary social media “industry,” who suddenly realized a week ago that with all the navel-gazing and ego projection fueling their “thought leadership,” they have mostly managed to cater to people who conveniently look and sound just like them. Wow. How did THAT happen?

By the by, if they ever manage to pull their heads out of their asses long enough to get some oxygen back into their brains, they will either meet or remember having met – among hundreds of thousands of other social media users who are not pre-midlife crisis white dudes – Rohit Bhargava, Maz Nadjm, Jeremiah Owyang, Gabrielle Laine Peters, Karima Catherine Goudiam, Bonin Bough, Liva Judic, Monika Melsha, Guy Kawasaki, Chris Penn, Danielle Lewis, Peter Kim, Charlene Li, CD, Hajj Flemings, and many, many, MANY more who, last time I checked, contributed more to the social media world than all of their “white” social media guru blog posts combined, and managed to do so while being other than strictly caucasian.

So. What’s the next big topic for the “we’ve run out of things to talk about social media guru” crowd: Why aren’t there more foreigners involved in social media?

Someone really needs to pinpoint the exact moment when “social media expert” became synonymous with “dumbass” so we can add that to Wikipedia.

Note: This was originally a comment by Olivier on my post about diversity. I just thought it would be a great standalone post to complement the original, and Olivier kindly agreed to let it run as such.

Olivier BlanchardAbout the author: Olivier Blanchard is Principal at BrandBuilder, Inc., an East Coast-based New/Social Media consultancy and Marketing management firm. He’s also the author of the book Social Media ROI, and owner of The BrandBuilder Blog. Follow Olivier on Twitter at @thebrandbuilder.

image: doughaslam

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