Social media is a big buzz word today. It is getting tossed everywhere and companies are scrambling to find consultants who can help them in this new arena. But the big question is do you really need to hire a social media consultant?
The simple answer to this question is yes; companies big or small should hire an expert who can create a viable strategy for social media engagement. In a world that is increasingly becoming more social, having a dynamic presence in various online communities is a must.
In other words, your company’s continued success can be determined by its ability to leverage different social tools for enhancing customer service, marketing, and sales. With the help of a competent consultant, this new business task can be made easier and more efficient.
How to Find the Right Expert
The sad truth nowadays is that so-called social media experts are already a dime a dozen. In every corner of the Internet, you can find ‘consultants’ who will promise just about everything for your company.
As a business owner, you need to distinguish the sneak oil salesmen from the real experts. So here are the most crucial things that you need to look for when hiring a social media consultant.
1. Get a Consultant with Corporate Experience
A consultant cannot claim expertise in social online media if he or she does not have corporate experience. This is important because online strategies cannot be separated from the overall corporate goals and interests. Your consultant therefore should have an intimate knowledge of how businesses work. So make sure to look for these qualities:
a. At least 5 years marketing experience in a corporate environment.
b. Portfolio of previous engagement (corporate accounts).
c. Verifiable references.
d. Proven brand in various online communities (get the consultant’s blog/website URLs, Twitter handle, LinkedIn profile, Google+ profile, and Facebook page).
2. Know the Strategies of Your Consultant
Many so-called experts will tell you that their ultimate goal is to enhance your company’s social network exposure. But you have to take note that social networking is just a small aspect of social media. A real consultant will propose strategies that are in line with your company’s goal. He should provide you with a blueprint on how to leverage the following tools:
b. Social networking
c. Social bookmarking
d. Web 2.0 engagement
e. Online forum branding
f. Broad search/Local search optimization
More importantly, your consultant should propose plans on how to use these tools to improve customer service, online marketing, and sales generation.
3. Get a Consultant Who Has a System for Measuring Success
Jumpstarting a social media campaign is the easy part. The more difficult aspect is measuring its success. You should avoid a consultant who cannot provide reliable metrics for verifying success. Real consultants will always give you certain benchmarks that can be quantified so that you can determine if your strategies are working.