With the rise of social media and online marketing, social media consulting has become a flourishing industry in itself. Many business owners outsource the task of social media marketing to somebody who can handle it well.
It is such an important area and there are so many self-proclaimed internet and online marketing experts out there. As a business owner, if you plan to hire a social media expert, you must select the person you choose to work with very carefully.
You need someone who can understand your value system, raise your brand awareness in the marketplace and help your brand name gain popularity in social media. Here are 12 key checkpoints you can use to evaluate your prospective social media consultant:
1. Does The Social Media Consultant Have A Blog?
Blogging is an important ingredient to success online. If the consultant is having a free blogging platform such a WordPress.com or Tumblr, it’s still okay to proceed to evaluate for the next few points.
However, if he/she doesn’t have a blog, you should question their ability to understand online marketing. Especially if the consultant is claiming to increase your brand value in the online world and he/she doesn’t have a blog, it will be wise if you just walk out of this deal.
2. How Active Is The Consultant On Social Media?
You can’t give what you don’t have. The rule applies to those who consult as well. When it comes to social media marketing, it is absolutely important to know how actively engaged consultants are in their own personal and professional social media networks.
If I am hiring somebody to do social media marketing for my company, does it make sense to hire someone who can't effectively market themselves on social media? If they can’t do it for themselves, most probably they can't do it or me either.
If the consultant you are interviewing is active on social media, it is a good idea to observe him/her on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to see if they appropriately share valuable content with their network and respond to people who engage with them.
It is also important see if the consultant shares offensive or de-edifying tweets, status updates or photos. You don’t want to engage with somebody who doesn’t respect other people in public or enjoys engaging in inappropriate media activities.
3. How Influential Is The Consultant In Social Media?
If the consultant you are planning to hire has a good personal and professional presence on social media, you can be assured that he/she knows what he/she is talking about. You can trust their knowledge and proceed to validate against other checkpoints.
However, if the candidate’s posts hardly get engagement from his/her own following, you should be concerned. If he/she isn’t able to engage other people for personal influence, should you trust his/her ability to execute your campaigns successfully?
You should also check his/her Klout score to see how well Klout thinks he/she is doing on social media. A score in 30s or 40s is not a very good indicator of influence. However, a score of 50+ is relatively good. In general, the higher the Klout score, the better the influence.
4. How Does The Consultant Understand Your Industry?
While this may not be the rule of thumb because many great social media strategists can pickup your needs fairly quickly, it is a good checkpoint for a bonus point.
If the social media consultant you are considering understands your industry, knows your competition and your target market, it is a great thing indeed. It can work in your favor.
5. Who Are The Influencers Of The Consultant In Social Media?
Many people can buy followers on Twitter and likes on Facebook to show numbers for credibility. Well, that isn’t really the influence you are looking for when you hire a social media consultant for your branding and marketing.
If the consultant has a genuine experience in the industry, he/she will already be connected to industry influencers. With the help of these industry influencers, the consultant should be capable of helping you build your brand awareness in the marketplace.
6. How Does The Consultant Build Audience?
Many consultants will tell you they will get you a hundred thousand followers on Twitter, twenty thousand likes on Facebook, and so on. Well, that’s not what you hire a social media consultant for.
The job of a social media consultant is to increase engagement of your brand on social networking sites. It should be done through sharing valuable content, connecting with relevant people, commenting on other people’s post, sharing their content and building relationships.
If your consultant explains the plan in this direction, than you are in good hands. However, if you get the answers about Likes, Follower counts and tweets only, then you need to find a better consultant for your brand building.
7. Ask For References And Recommendations
This one is a bit tricky because many consultants may not be able to disclose names of their clients due to their NDAs (non-disclosure agreements.) However, many consultants will confidently point you to past happy clients.
If you get some references, you should check with their previous clients and find out if they were really happy with the consultant’s services.
If the consultant already has some recommendations from some of his/her previous clients, you should know that you’ve got a good prospective consultant on hand and proceed with next items in the checklist.
8. How Does The Consultant Measure ROI Of Campaigns?
When you are running social media marketing campaigns and you are investing money, you need to know a tangible way to track success or failure of your campaigns. You need to know the ROI of your campaigns.
Simply counting the number of Facebook likes, +1s on Google+ or follower count on Twitter isn’t good enough to measure your ROI. You need specifics, and for that you need a way to track it.
You should ask the consultant what tracking methods they use to measure ROI. Do they use some custom method, or do they use popular tools like Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and Klout? If they aren’t able to give a satisfactory answer, probably they don’t know how to track success/failure.
9. Does The Consultant Understand SEO?
SEO is a must for your social media marketing campaigns. Your business has a website and your website needs SEO. Social media is an important aspect of your overall SEO efforts. Now, if the consultant is good at SEO, and has plans to take care of your website’s SEO along with social media channel management, you are in good hands.
However, if the consultant thinks that SEO is not important or SEO isn’t something he/she does, probably you should look for a more qualified consultant who understands both.
10. Which Social Platforms Does The Consultant Specialize?
It is an important question because your engagement with your audience depends on the nature your business. Your target market behaves differently on various platforms. Therefore, it is important that your social media consultant knows which platforms are good for your business and why.
You should also know if the consultant has specific strategies defined for different social networking platforms because of the varying cultures each social networking platforms have.
11. How Does The Consultant Monitor Brand Reputation?
It is one of the most important aspects of brand reputation management. It is also one of the major tasks for the social media consultant you hire; to closely monitor mention of your brand’s name anywhere on the web.
Ask what tools your social media consultant uses to monitor brand reputation. If he/she has no idea, that is bad news. You should doubt his/her ability to do the job.
Otherwise, the consultant should know things like Google Alerts and preferably some of the premium brand reputation management and monitoring services.
12. How Does The Consultant Project Campaign Success?
Nobody can master an ever changing field like social media. What works today may not work tomorrow. What works on Facebook may not work on Google+. It is a dynamic world and nobody can claim to be a master of it.
If your consultant guarantees your success, you should doubt his/her ability to do it right. However, if the consultant shows a game plan that seems to reasonably help you get a good ROI, you should relax. If the consultant doesn’t give guarantees, but shows commitment to put everything on line to make your social media campaigns successful, you should be excited about it.
Questions: Do you think business owners should hire a professional for managing their social media marketing compaigns? What do you think are some of the pros and cons of hiring a consultant for this job?
Please share your thoughts in the comments by clicking here. Thank you kindly!