The growth of the social media guru – 181,000 SM gurus, mavens and ninjas on Twitter

Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light (how social media visionaries should look)I Tweeted recently that I’d received an invitation from someone working in social media to connect on LinkedIn who used the word “visionary” as a key word to describe themselves. I’m sorry, but you need to be a yogi, solve hunger or invent time travel to be a visionary. That or be a member of ‘Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light (left) and have an awesome moustache. Although a quick search on LinkedIn proves visionary remains a rather popular appellation.

This brings me neatly to a report on Ad Age on the growth of the social media gurus, which is a sub industry in its own right. The report says there are 181,000 social media ‘Gurus,’ ‘Ninjas,’ ‘Masters,’ and ‘Mavens’ on Twitter. Add to that a few visionaries. 

To give you an idea how much of a growth industry this is look back to 2009. That’s when they first started tracking “social media gurus” and there were a mere 16,000.

The most popular social media job titles are as follows:

1. Social media marketing – 57,220.
2. Social media maven 21,928
3. Social media ninja 21, 876
4. Social media evangelist 20,829
5. Social media guru 18,363
6. Social media consultant 9,031

I’m amazed that almost 22,000 people call themselves social media mavens or social media ninjas. Sadly there is a lack of  social media turtles.

As Ad Age notes “a great many of these self-appointed gurus are no doubt taking the title with tongue firmly planted in cheek, the fact remains: a guru is something someone else calls you, not something you call yourself”.

No one should really be describing themselves as a social media guru anymore,  should they? But the sheer number of people who use the title show that it isn’t going away anytime soon. I wonder what the numbers will look 12 months down the road? 2013 is going to be a big year for social.

What is certainly true, as Ad Age concludes, is that if we continue at this rate pretty soon everyone on Twitter will be a social media guru and that’s pretty much the point.

Back in 2009 talking about the simple stuff wowed people, but in 2013 many more understand how to effectively use Twitter and social media to get results.

Despite that companies large and small continue to make mistakes. We saw plenty of those last year with the likes of American Apparel and Gap during Superstorm Sandy and some thought Waitrose screwed up with #Waitrosereasons — although personally I thought they got away with it.

I’m sure we’ll see more again this year as well as many more successes. It isn’t rocket salad, but good ideas need to be thought through before being rushed into the wider world.