So I was reading Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book The Outliers the other night and he goes into a discussion about Violinists and on how long it takes them to become a master at their craft. So without spoiling the book for you – the bottom line was – it takes 10,000 hours to become a Master Violinist. This got me thinking about how it could apply to Social Media and how long it would take to become a Social Media Expert.
If you listen to popular books on becoming an expert in your field of study – most of them say “read an hour a day in your field”. Members of my team will recognize this from their goal setting with me as I often coach them to read an hour a day of good marketing material. But 1 hour a day x 5 days a week means you would be a social media master in about 38 years! Let’s say you are really dedicated and you up that to 1 hour a day x 7 days a week means you cut that time down to 27 years just in time to retire!
In my new role at Avaya I am traveling 3 hours a day (1 ½ hours each way) by car – listening to podcasts like MarketingOverCoffee, HubSpot TV, Duct Tape Marketing – essentially turning my commute into a rolling Social Media university. So if I factor that into my calculation – 3 hours a day x 5 days a week means I could master social media in 12.8 years. Assuming I throw in 3 hours a day on the weekend and it drops to 9.1 years! By the way 10 years was also an average that Malcolm Gladwell cited in the book for most people to master pretty much anything.
But wait – I also practice Social Media on the job for a few hours a day. So let’s say 3 hours a day learning more about social media and 2 hours a day practicing social media x 5 days a week means I could become a social media master in 7.6 years. Throw in the weekends and that drops to 5.5 years!
People like Dan Schawabel (one of the hardest working people in Social Media I have ever met), have the luxury of practicing social media 40 hours a week as the Social Media expert for EMC – 40 hours a week x 5 days a week means you reach social media mastery in 4.8 years. But Dan also blogs, writes books, a magazine and more so say he works 80 hours a week (including weekends) and you can reach social media mastery in 3.8 years!
My point being Social Media is still relatively new and there are plenty of people out there calling themselves Social Media Experts but in reality they would have to have a pretty aggressive schedule of social media learning and practicing to become one. In essence, there are a handful of people who truly have a good head start on the pack but it’s not too late for you to get started in creating your own plan to become a Social Media Expert. So what’s your plan? I would love to know.