There are good reasons to keep your business active in social media. They include everything from gathering customer feedback and offering more immediate support to increasing word of mouth marketing and the traffic that often comes with it. But maintaining an active social media presence for your company can be time-consuming.
That’s why it sometimes makes sense to hire a social media consultant. Depending on the social media professional you hire they might help you strategize, write content for your social media profiles or blog, manage social media accounts or comments on your behalf, or any combination thereof.
If you’re going to bring in an outside consultant to help your business succeed with social media, it’s vital that you choose the right person for the job. Here are five things to look for the next time you plan to hire a social media consultant.
1. They have experience using social media for business.
There’s a big difference between a teenager using social media to stay in touch with friends and a business using social media for professional communication, networking, and marketing. Make sure your consultant has experience with the latter.
2. They do more than follow the crowd.
If a social media consultant seems to jump on every trend out there (and insist that you do the same), they’re not right for your business. Every fad won’t fit your company’s needs, and there is no one-size-fits-all social media plan.
Find a social media consultant who can offer a custom-tailored strategy for your company. If they immediately jump in and make things sound obligatory (“you must have a Facebook page” or “you absolutely have to start a company blog”), run. Those are signs of an over-eager social media evangelist.
The first thing they should do is listen. Then come up with a plan. Then try to sell you on that plan (or work with you on tweaking it). If they’re spouting generic “musts,” you can find someone better.
3. They have a solid foundation related to your social media goals.
Before you even look for a social media consultant, you should have some idea of what your goals are. Do you want to use social media accounts to offer greater customer support? Are you hoping to use social media as a marketing tool? Or something else?
Whatever your goals are in a social media strategy, find a consultant with a background that fits. It’s not enough for them to have years of experience playing with social media tools. They need solid fundamentals if they’re going to use those tools effectively — such as a background in marketing or PR, a solid history building online communities, a background in support, or whatever is relevant to your personal needs.
4. They understand your target market or audience.
This goes along with not just following the crowd. Just because a lot of people use a social media tool or website, it doesn’t mean your target audience is using it. Find a social media professional who understands the specific group of people you’re trying to reach, what social media tools they use, and how they use them. If they can’t tell you that, they can’t effectively reach that group on your behalf.
5. They understand social media metrics include more than friends and followers.
If a social media consultant brags about their number of Twitter followers, Facebook friends, or anything along those lines, they’re too caught up in their own hyper-inflated ego to do what’s best for your business. Those things are not valuable social media statistics. Each one of them is very easily manipulated.
Instead find someone who has numbers to back up their social media work or their proposition to you. For example, if you want to use social media for lead generation, the numbers you should care about are conversion stats from past campaigns. And if your interest is in increasing conversations on a company blog, you’ll want to see what percentage of their followers, blog readers, etc. actually engage in conversations with them before you put them in charge of the same for your business.
What other things do you think businesses should look for in a social media consultant or other social media professional? You can add to this list in the comments below.
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