I posted here yesterday something that worries me about social media marketing, those fake word of mouth tactics. Writing that reminded me about the good and a little bit bad in the sweeping change of the new business landscape that social media represents.

I’ve been in the expert business for 40 years. I was a journalist, then a business journalist, then a consultant, a software developer and publisher, and now a blogger.

Today if you’re smart you can establish yourself in the expert business by publishing what you know and marketing it yourself. You write your blog, you get active in Twitter and Facebook, you join blog chats, and if you really do know your stuff it’s entirely possible that you’ll emerge above the noise, and make a good living.

It used to be that establishing expertise took dealing with gatekeepers. When I got started you had to write books or magazine articles and get them published, which meant you had to convince editors. Or you could rise above the crowd by getting speaking engagements at trade shows. Maybe you could do some workshops or seminars, if you had the marketing know-how and resources to bring in the people. The world was full of gatekeepers.

I have mixed feelings. Gatekeepers worked for me and my career; I got the degrees, wrote the books, got them published, got the speaking gigs. In the new world I see smart hard-working people rising fast without having to wait for grey hair and gatekeepers. That’s wonderful. I also see the good ones competing in a world of sharks, fakes, and charlatans, with most of the gatekeepers’ influence gone, so it gets harder and harder to tell who is for real and who isn’t.

What do you think?

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.