Social Media Strategist


Social Media marketing, strategy and professional development blog for Jon-Stephen Stansel, a social media strategist living in Austin, Texas.

Social Media "Guru" is Not a Compliment


An Open Letter to Anyone Who Calls Me a Social Media "Guru."

-by Jon-Stephen Stansel

Listen, I know you mean it as a compliment and are trying to be nice when you call me a social media “guru.” And while I appreciate the gesture, the terms “guru,” “rock star,” “ninja,” etc are hurtful to my profession; a profession I work very hard at and in which I sometimes struggle to be taken seriously.

Here’s the thing, social media marketing is a field with a lot of impostors, posers, and hucksters shilling likes and promises of overnight viral success. There is also a misconception that any millennial with a smartphone and Twitter account could do my job and the term social media “guru” perpetuates that misconception. It says to the world, that what I do is just a fad, and I am not a professional. It makes my peers believe that my job is easy and all I do is “play around” on Twitter all day. This could not be further from the truth.

As social media manager, I am in charge of my brand’s online reputation. I am on the front line of every online conversation happening about the brand. I am constantly monitoring what people are saying about us on social media and engaging as necessary. I am crafting the messaging we want to put out and acting as our voice. I am tracking the data and adjusting our strategy to make sure our messaging is seen. I am keep track of the latest trends in an industry where drastic changes happen at a moment’s notice. I am the gatekeeper that prevents us from making one of those terrible social media slip-ups that you hear about every night on the evening news. And when there is a crisis, I will be the first to know about it and the first responder. Is this a job you’d want to leave to someone who describes themselves as a “guru?”

In addition to a detailed understanding of the inner workings of social media, I also create content and wear the hats of a writer, graphic designer, photographer, videographer, web designer, customer support provider, media liaison and many other jobs none of which the term “guru” applies.

Again, I know you meant this as a compliment or maybe you don’t really understand what I do and aren’t sure what to call it. Perhaps you aren’t aware of my official job title and don’t want to get it wrong. Then please call me a social media “expert,” “strategist,” “marketer,” or best of all call me a “professional.” I work very hard to be one.