Every day it seems that there are more and more people promoting themselves as social media “experts”. A little research makes it abundantly clear that many of these “experts” have little, if any, idea of what they are doing. Other than posting the occasional cat photo or meme on their personal Facebook profile.

It’s a rant I frequently have on twitter. A bit like my other rant about people who call themselves gurus or rock stars. Only people like Bruce Springsteen can legitimately call themselves a rock star. Or Pink. Or Mick Jagger. You get the picture.

So I thought I’d provide a few tips, suggestions about things you need to consider, and a few questions to ask when looking for someone to guide you along your social media path.

How to choose a social media consultant

First and foremost you need to remember that social media is a tool that helps with your marketing and your customer service. Just like a website, a brochure, and a booth at an exhibition are tools.

If your “expert” has no experience in marketing, communication or customer service, do you really want them to be guiding you with your social media?

  • Ask what their overall marketing and communication experience is. Do they have a degree? What is it in? Have they developed marketing communication strategies that include a digital and/or social media component? (BTW a degree isn’t necessarily essential, particularly if they have years of experience in marketing communication)
  • Ask how they would integrate your social media activity with your other marketing activity. Social media doesn’t operate in a vacuum. And Facebook is definitely NOT a strategy.
  • Look at the social media tools they are personally using and how they are using them – do they have conversations on twitter? Or are they just spamming with their opinions? Are they posting interesting and relevant content on Facebook and then engaging with their fans? What does their LinkedIn profile look like? Are they blogging and are people commenting? What is their Instagram profile like? Do they Pinterest? Now I’m not saying that all social media consultants will have an active personal account on all these platforms, but they should know what they all are, how to use them, and be using at least two or three very regularly.
  • Ask how they would manage your online presence and build your community. Anyone can send a few tweets and schedule some Facebook posts. You don’t need to pay someone for that.
  • Who have they worked for? What outcomes have they achieved and how? Ask to see examples of work they have done for other clients both in your industry and out of it. Have they developed a content schedule? Do they know what one is?!
  • Do they know the difference between having a content strategy and content marketing?
  • Make sure they can write, and write clearly and concisely. Social media is often about brevity.
  • Do they know the rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation? Nothing kills off followers faster than badly written posts.
  • Be relevant to the audience. This means understanding your audience and knowing what they want to hear. You do this by asking them, and not necessarily by asking them via social media. Sometimes you need to pick up the phone! What experience has your social media “expert” had in your industry sector? What do they know about your audience? How do they propose to reach them?

This is just a snapshot of what you should be looking for and asking.

Have you sought to engage a social media consultant? What were you looking for? Did you find all the “experts” a little overwhelming?

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