Starbucks’ Chris Abruzzo, VP of Brand, Content and Online, did double duty during Internet Week NY speaking at CM Summit and the Mashable/CNN event. As you’ll see in this video, Starbucks is using social media to invert the way it goes to market for product launches.

Many folks participating in social media would probably agree that Starbucks’ is an expert when it comes to its use of social media. But my favorite part of Abruzzo’s presentation is at the beginning when he shrugs off the hard-earned descriptor. 

“I’m here to be the practical example guy. We [Starbucks] really don’t know very much. We know very little about this whole space. We know more than we knew a few years ago. But we still really don’t know very much. But we do know Starbucks very, very, well and that has been the source of everything we’ve done.”

“It’s the Brand, Stupid”
Working with clients, it becomes very clear very quickly how much they understand their brand. They know what differentiates them from competitors and they know what their focus must be to succeed – regardless of what tactics are chosen to realize marketing goals. You can’t take this for granted. It’s an important point.

Abruzzo’s humble clarification is refreshing. It reminds me of something Josh Hallett said in passing at a conference I presented at in 2007 (UGA Connect). No one is a social media expert. Not Chris Brogan, not Steve Rubel, not you and not me. Not even brands as well-established in social media as Starbucks.

Some professionals have been participating in social media longer and helping their internal/external clients create strategies and execute plans with results at the end of the rainbow. But they’ve made mistakes, they’ve done test and learn projects (maybe even well-intended crash and burn projects) and they’ve built out from it. And they’ve shared their findings like Abruzzo.

Social Media Expert and Other Obscenities
There’s a lot of baggage, angst and content created around the term social media expert. Some of it’s understandable. Some of it’s elitist. Some of it’s a defensive move to keep the competition out of their billable hours.

I like Abruzzo’s approach and Hallett’s approach. There are no experts. And I’ll throw in a quote from Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no try.” So here’s to doing it.

Cross-posted to my work blog, Social Study.

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