You Can’t Choose Your Own Nickname (or Social Media Title)

Photo by icantcu.
Photo by icantcu.

Social media has become a Halloween party. Anyone who has spent more than an hour on social media has met a guru, ninja, maven, sensei or rockstar. Those are just the most common self-declared social media titles. Other real titles include Social Wrecking Ball, Epic Social Manager, Digital Demigod and Public Happy Maker.

These are harmless, right? Yes and no.

Nicknames are fun, creative. They are something most of us were given on the playground in elementary school. Most who use one are trying to create a point of differentiation in their industry. According to research there are over 180,000 self-proclaimed social media job titles on Twitter. There are incredibly talented people who use some of these terms, too many to name individually. Though, with over 21,000 Social Media Ninjas out there it’s hard for anyone to stand out from the crowd. Not to mention, ninjas are not supposed to be visible.

What started as a fun exercise in digital creativity has now become over-saturated. The general public responds as positively to these titles as they do Pitbull, Nickelback or Mondays. Why? Because any person can make a title. The talented then get lumped in with the less than talented. Someone who has worked for years in social media with major brands becomes valued the same as the 17-year-old that gets in fights with Beliebers or Directioners on Twitter.

Still, I wanted to test this theory. In my tweet chat this week, I asked about social media job titles. 9 out of every 10 didn’t like self-made titles. They felt that it devalued the person and caused people to take them less seriously. This is an unintended consequence. Admittedly this is an unscientific poll, like “92% of Americans get overly excited over t-shirt cannons.” Still, it is obvious that the rules to social media self-promotion are evolving.

Social media is growing, adapting, becoming more professionally driven. In 2017, social media ad revenues are expected to reach $11 billion. In 2012, they were $4.7 billion. Now, more than ever, it is critical for social media professionals to establish their worth and carve out their share of the market.

For social media professionals, the new challenge isn’t how creative they can be with a job title but how established they can appear. This shouldn’t be as hard as it sounds. Think of what truly separates you from the rest. If you have connections, use them. If you have worked with big brands, use that. Create branding based on real connections rather than statements.

Every restaurant can say they have the best burger in the world. In fact, most do. Aren’t you skeptical when you hear that? I’m skeptical when I hear that. Everyone is. The same applies to social media nicknames. The burger that GQ ranks #1 in America makes people want to try it. The same principle applies to personal branding.

Personal branding, writing a resume, creating an advertisement all have a common theme. When trying to persuade someone, generic statements aren’t enough. Everyone can say they are a people person. Everyone can say their product is the best. You have to prove it, make a compelling case. That’s what separates the best from the rest.

Even if you can’t choose your own nickname, you can make your own luck. Define yourself based on your work, not your title.