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Social Media/Networks, what is in it for starters?

Newbies in the world of Social Media face so many challenges, ranging from creating quality content, understanding of tools, analysis of market, identification of target segments, access to reliable data, networking with experts, idea generation, increasing relevant/organic follower base, and building a credible online presence.
Though the online space is relatively new, there are thousands of Social Media Experts, Specialists already! A newbie gets confused as to who really is an expert, and who is posing to be one. If we consider the follower ratio, then we are certain to end up at the wrong expert. Startups, freelancers, and small enterprises thrive on the follower optimization scheme. They charge some cents per follower, and by investing a few hundred dollars, these good-for-nothing individuals get a better presence.
Billion articles, million Websites, thousands of specialists/experts, and just a handful of real Champions in the online space, there has to be some way out to find out such experts, who can guide, groom, train, impart knowledge, and build a better community of authentic professionals.
I recently interacted with Robert Clay (@marketingwizdom) and was impressed by his promptness in replying, sending relevant links, and guide me regarding e-mail marketing, and permission marketing. I followed his activities, and they were a source of inspiration. Digging deeper, I found out his profile on LinkedIn and looked at his achievements. He has a great track record across domains, verticals, industries, and positions. 
Contrary to this, I had a chance to interact with a so-called specialist. He turned out to be a fake profile, sending links from his own blog/website, and organic material, primarily based on self-promotion.
My question is, in social media, what is the right approach for a newbie to dive into? Where to start off? Whom to interact with? Where to get a credible source of information?
Many experts publish their dailies, few sites like Mashable, Socialmediatoday, twitter do provide more insights and articles on the required topics, but there should be a place where only good uality content gets moderated, published, and read!
I would like the readers of this post to help me, and million other starters in Social media to post some links that could help us gain information, resources, and non-promoted material. There are so many upcoming terms like Social Media, Social Network, Social Media Marketing, Online Branding, Web Presence, RoI: Return on Investments, RoTI: Return on time invested, RoMI: Return on Marketing Investment, Optimizing tools, Integrating tools, Analytics, etc that we have studied a lot about, and been on the other side of the table, i.e. as a user. But now, as a content provider, a marketer, a facilitator, and an aspiring expert, what is that i should do to reach to a point where my knowledge can be leveraged, and imparted via these interfaces?
My major challenges at this point in time:
  • Where to get required information?
  • Who is credible?
  • Is an expert one with maximum followers, or more respect? If latter is the case, how to validate?
  • How to start creaing quality content?
  • What are the ways to Interact?
  • Where does a conversation start, and why do they end?
  • Measures to be taken to understand readers, audience precisely.
  • Strategies to be implemented to reach out the Real Target Groups, as against auto-followers.
  • Learn, unlearn, and re-learn! Do's and Dont's of Social Media.
Thank you!
Follow me at @tottology or email me at


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