If you are looking to dabble into social media and need a little help, that’s great. Here are a few questions I would suggest to ask to see if you can figure out which category above your potential consultant might fall into:
- How long ago did you start using social media and why?
Hopefully they were an early adapter and understood the importance early on or caught on quickly.
- What do you personally use social media for and why?
More than sharing funny photos of the keg stand in college, a good consultant shows how they use/have used it for business.
- What is your background other than social media?
If they are helping you with marketing, I would hope they have a background in marketing/promotion of some shape or form.
- Do you blog?
I hope so! And more importantly it is a well-designed well-visited blog?
- What have been YOUR measurable results from using social media?
I.E: My business increased X Amount, I Had X PR Opportunities, Met X People, Recruited X People.
- Do I need to be on every site?
If the answer is “YES” that could be a warning flag. The bottom line is you probably don’t need to be on every site under the sun.
- How much would it cost me for you to setup my social media accounts?
This should be included in part of the consulting fee if you don’t have an account setup yet. The key here is NOBODY should be charging a relative arm and leg to setup an account. A well designed Twitter background? Sure, that costs a bit. However, the response here I would hope would be that setup is included, but real expertise comes from knowing how to OPTIMIZE accounts and avoiding little common mistakes.
- (If you plan on getting advice on creating content) Have you created content yourself?
Hopefully there are good examples from the consultant’s personal work and/or work from clients.
- Do I need to stop my other marketing/advertising?
If they tell you “Yes!” right away, that is warning flag. Every business is different. Traditional advertising still could be a big component. Other forms of marketing such as events, etc. can be amplified and integrated with social media. Plus social media is ONE component of the online marketing world (other important ones include SEO and maybe pay-per-click campaigns depending on the client/goals.
- Will this fix my business?
A “Yes!” here would definitely not be a great thing. Social media amplifies bad business as opposed to fixing it.
- Do you guarantee followers?
Run away if they quantify this. Sure, with many principles applied followers are going to come. Guaranteeing them seems a bit sketchy.
- How do you measure ROI?
If you don’t keep score, how do you know where you stand? There are lots of soft analytics you can use: Sentiment (how do people feel about the brand), amount of followers, retweets, Facebook comments, blog traffic, website traffic, etc. However, remember the hard analytics are what ultimately matters on the finance sheet: Amount of new (for example) email subscribers from social which led to sales, total sales BEFORE social media vs. % increase after using it (remember no magic pill here so allow a few months before you have measurable results).
- Do I need a social media plan written down?
Hopefully the answer here is yes. With deliverables, goals, room for experimentation, and more.
- Can you give me some examples of how we could generate PR using social media?
If the words that sound anything like “traditional press release” rears its head here, run away. Online relationships (with bloggers, media sources, etc.) are a different breed all together and based around genuine caring, relationships AND business.
- Is social media free?
The classic trick question!
Yes, the services are free to use. However, no matter how much automation you put on them (if you choose to), there is an investment in human time.
Wrapping It Up:
Bottom line is social media, innovative marketing and everything in between is quickly changing and evolving. Nothing is set in stone, but best practices are starting to evolve out of this wild wide west of social marketing and more importantly the bigger picture of online marketing. There may not be a perfect consultant or a perfect strategy, but finding the right person for you and your business will be an invaluable resource for the future of your company.
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