Just last week someone said that about me.  His idea of a social media consultant was someone in their 20s or early 30s and who has been using social media since they were in college.  However, after a few bad experiences with some folks that matched his vision and could only talk the talk, he has changed his mind.  Now, he has decided that using social media is a science that requires more than just the ability to use the tools.  The person has to understand business, technology and your goals.

My business buddy is not alone, when it comes to social media or anything we don’t know, we can all be taken in by someone who looks the way we think they should, knows all of the buzz words and talks the talk.  In some cases, this can be very expensive to our time and/or our bottom line.  I really dislike it when I find out that my clients, friends or people in my business network have wasted money and/or time.  Most business owners I know cannot afford to waste their time or their money.

Thus, this week, I want to talk about what you need to do before choosing a social media expert to work with you.  Here are a few of my ideas of things you should do to increase your chances of getting the right person for your needs.

Interview the person to find out:

  • What is their background?  How did they get into social media?
  • How long have they been using social media?
  • How many followers, fans, connections, etc. do they have?
  • Have they used social media for themselves or for clients?
  • What do they feel the difference is between social media, social networking and social marketing?
  • What are the names of some clients and their contact information for successful and not successful projects?.  You can learn more about the person when you investigate the problem(s) they encountered.
  • If you can, get them to show you online stats like number of impressions, number of visits, demographics, etc for some of their current clients.
  • Where do they think social media is going in the future?
  • What is their methodology for helping their clients?

Do your homework before and after meeting with the person(s):

  • Talk to their current and previous clients of successful and not successful projects.
  • Google their name, their company name, their clients, etc.  If they are not on the first page, be cautious.  If they are on the first page, why are they on the first page?
  • Take a look at their LinkedIn profile.  Do they belong to any discussion groups? Have they answered any questions?  Check out their references and connections.
  • Do they have a blog and/or website?  Does it have compelling content and is it optimized for search engines?
  • Check out their social media accounts.  What types of information do they post on the internet?  Do their posts build relationships and share information or are they more personal or spammy.
  • Would you feel comfortable having this person on your team?

Don’t just accept what you see or hear at face value.  You want to be open for the surprises, but not the bad surprises.  Keep in mind that those that do what they say they can do, often do not brag about it.  Look for the diamonds and watch out for the ones that promise you high return in a very short period of time.  Just like it takes time to build relationships in person, it takes time to build relationships on-line.

Most importantly, don’t judge a social media person by their appearance or age.  They might be the perfect fit for you, your company, your company culture and your brand.

First published Jan 31, 2011

Don’t Judge a Book by It’s Cover

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