Would You Hire a Social Media Samurai?

Ann All

Yesterday I stumbled across a reference on Twitter that stopped me in my tracks, a guy calling himself a social media "swami." My response, which I tweeted:

Just saw a reference to a "social media swami" title. Ick. As if "guru" and "ninja" weren't bad enough.

I then heard from @ericdbrown, who informed me he'd just encountered a social media "samurai." He tweeted, "When will it end?"


I think I get why folks working in social media do this. They want a title that conveys the hip or cool quotient of their jobs, which they believe is much higher than a simple "consultant," "manager" or "strategist." Fine. I'm a "live-and-let-live" kind of person. But do they seriously think these kinds of titles are going to help them get work from suit-and-tie business types, many of whom still have doubts about social media?


I found a post from a simpatico Jesse Stanchak on the Smart Blog on Social Media. He writes:

... Many executives still think that social media is a fad. These people are wrong, but that doesn't mean their skepticism is unwarranted. It's up to us to prove them wrong -- and that task becomes spectacularly more difficult when the person doing the convincing bills themselves as a "social-media dragon-slayer."

Among the titles Stanchak turned up on LinkedIn: social media guru (91 of them), mavens (37) and ninjas (15). He also found a social media rockstar, surgeon (?), and king (at least this guy is confident in his abilities).


A big problem, as Stanchak points out, is that none of these titles really explain what these people actually do. He writes:

... Take those social-media ninjas: Ninjas were known for killing without making noise. They might be the least social people ever. Putting "ninja" on your resume might feel awesome now, but you're going to feel stupid when someone asks you to explain it.

More run-of-the-mill titles are more common on LinkedIn, with a count including social media managers (2,387), consultants (2,005), specialists (1,284), analysts (458) and marketers (304).


Stanchak says it's OK to get creative, as long as your unusual title truly describes what you do. His examples: Social media scientist Dan Zarrella, who he says "actually performs experiments with social media," and Social media handyman Paul Chaney, who "helps people fix their social media strategies."


B.L. Ochman, who writes on the What's Next blog, points out in a comment on Stanchak's post that clients, case studies and results are all more important than a title when hiring a social media professional. She also links to her own semi-annual count of self-proclaimed social media gurus, ninjas, stars and specialists.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Sign up now and get the best business technology insights direct to your inbox.


Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Aug 25, 2010 11:47 AM Jesse Stanchak Jesse Stanchak  says:

Thanks Ann! It's been great to see I'm not the only person bugged by this.

Aug 25, 2010 12:00 PM Blackfootbette Blackfootbette  says:

I agree that we need to help people understand its not a fad BUT. I am a Social Media Consultant that calls herself that and I am completely ok with others referring to themselves in whatever fashion they wish. Forward doesn't happen when we can't accept the 'non-norm.' Additionally, I feel complaining about such things is a waste of breathe+

Aug 25, 2010 3:32 PM Garious Garious  says:

I love the term.  Social media samurai makes me imagine the movie "The Last Samurai" and I have a funny image in my head.  I think that in today's over-saturated market, it truly pays to be different.  Before, you'd hear folks calling you weird for doing so; now, people will you all types of words like 'thought leader', 'innovator', and more.  Interesting sharing though, thanks!

Aug 26, 2010 9:16 AM Vered DeLeeuw Vered DeLeeuw  says:

I think it's because it's all so new. I suspect that 10 years from now we'll have a social media manager, social media director, maybe even VP of social media instead of social media reporting to VP marketing.

When social media becomes mainstream, and it will, ninjas and samurais will disappear.

Aug 26, 2010 11:11 AM Joe Pritchard Joe Pritchard  says:

Agree totally - the same silliness is to be found in software engineering as well.  If I come across another 'Sensei' I'll scream.

My thoughts on the softwrae equivalent are here... http://www.joepritchard.me.uk/2010/08/i-write-software-to-solve-problems/

You've now motivated me to rant again!

Aug 26, 2010 6:46 PM Ann All Ann All  says: in response to Joe Pritchard

Thanks for your comments, Joe. I do love to provoke a good rant!

Aug 29, 2010 11:47 AM Shashi Bellamkonda Shashi Bellamkonda  says:

Hi Ann,

Very interesting debate here and while my title Social Media Swami may have started off your article I agree with many of your points. In fact I have written about this myself "What to do when someone calls you a Guru or Expert http://bit.ly/bjKd1v "

Let me clarify that my title was not self-selected by me. When the company I work for Network Solutions decided to have a new position to lead Social Media Strategy  way back in 2007, one of the first things we did internally was to have a grass roots contest internally among employees to give this position a title and Social media Swami became the winner. See other titles that were proposed in this blog post http://bit.ly/dqWpNS

While the title is attention getting there is always a chance that people will ask "what does a Social Media Swami " do and so I usually explain on my card and on Linkedin in that it translates to Director - Social Media.

One advice to anyone thinking of a new unique title is to find a way to equate it to a phrase that is more common as well.


Shashi Bellamkonda

Social Media Swami ( Director - Social Media Strategy)

Aug 30, 2010 6:14 PM Erik Deckers Erik Deckers  says:

I just stick with the term "social media expert." It says what I do in a heartbeat. It tells clients what I know and how much. It also shows enough confidence to claim that title.

Since I'm dealing with clients who still think social media is not just a bunch of kids playing Farmville on Facebook, I can't have anything stupid like "ninja," "swami," or "knight-errant" on my business card. It may sound cool and witty to my other social media colleagues, but I'm not trying to impress them, I'm trying to impress the people who sign my checks.

Jun 5, 2011 7:18 PM CRM Software CRM Software  says:

Well hate to tell you but we named our software samurai CRM.. And i think managers will love it its what the software does that makes it valuable to the customer.. not what it is named. We decided on this because it is something someone can remember easily... its available on 1 sept.. would be happy to send you a copy to test. Just let me know


Post a comment





(Maximum characters: 1200). You have 1200 characters left.




Subscribe Daily Edge Newsletters

Sign up now and get the best business technology insights direct to your inbox.

Subscribe Daily Edge Newsletters

Sign up now and get the best business technology insights direct to your inbox.