Experts are everywhere.
At least it can seem that way if you are looking for help with social media for your business. When it’s hard to toss a pebble without hitting a social media expert, how do you know who has really got the goods?
Here are ten ways to separate the experts from the posers:
- They’re active online. How can someone help you build your social media presence if they are not personally engaging online. Take a look at their Twitter account, Facebook and LinkedIn. Are there recent, relevant and intelligent posts? Is conversation happening, or is all the communication one-way? Do they have plenty of fans, friends and followers – an active community of their own?
- They have social proof. If you’re not familiar with the term, social proof means others are endorsing their work. Do you see complimentary posts and recommendations from clients? Are they speaking at events? Do they have positive reviews? All these things show that other people think this person knows their stuff.
- They have more than one trick. Did you know there are over 200 social media sites? No one can be an expert in them all, but a social media “expert” should be conversant in the ins and outs of many more sites than just Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Can they tell you about Pinterest and Instagram? What about Tumblr, Quora, Google+ and niche sites or emerging platforms?
- They know the tools. Most social media consultants have favorite tools like Hootsuite to help them do their jobs. They also know a variety of tools that work for all kinds of clients, and can recommend services that fit your business. From HubSpot, Roost and Sprout Social to Buddy Media, Vitrue and others, they’re keeping up with what’s out there so you don’t have to.
- They speak strategy. Many so-called social media gurus are all about the tactics, but success starts with strategy. A real expert will want to know how social fits into your business plan. If you haven’t thought about that, they should be able to guide you through the process of figuring out who does social in your company and why. How is social going to become part of the fabric of your organization, and how will you use it to connect with customers and build relationships?
- They’re about more than fans and followers. If your first question is, “How do I get 10,000 Twitter followers by next quarter,” a savvy social media advisor will set you straight – fast. They know that the numbers are much less important than the results (see my point on strategy) and they won’t placate you by quoting random fan counts you should aim to accrue.
- They can show you how to measure results. An expert in social media consulting will know how to establish viable metrics to monitor your social media efforts, tracking progress relative to your goals. They won’t force you into a one-size-fits-all program with arbitrary benchmarks. They’ll define targets that match your business strategy and will help you set up reporting that reflects the real impact and value of social media for your company.
- They will tell you when you shouldn’t use social media. A good, trustworthy social media advisor is not afraid to tell you if social media is not a fit for your business. If you’re not ready to get started, don’t have the right level of commitment or if your expectations are unrealistic, they’ll stop you in your tracks. Why? They don’t want to litter the social sphere with more failed attempts. Instead, they want you to succeed and will do what it takes to ensure that’s possible.
- They don’t pretend to have the secret sauce. Social media experts love to share what they know. They don’t put on airs about a secret formula that you could not possibly understand. They won’t run off to work their magic without letting you know what’s going on. Instead of being threatened by a client’s curiosity, they want their clients to be engaged and interested in the process. They are open and honest about what they are doing are why.
- They’re a teacher not a taker. The best social media advisors are in business to help clients succeed, not to take their money and run. They revel in teaching people how to use social media effectively. Their greatest accomplishment is a client who becomes an expert in their own right. They encourage you to develop the skills to drive your own programs, knowing you’ll call on them for fresh insights and guidance when you need it.
To find the best social media consultant for your business, ask a few of these questions and you’ll quickly be able to determine who is a wanna-be and who is the real deal. If someone shies away from your inquiries or becomes defensive, that’s a sure sign they aren’t right for you.
In a world where authenticity reigns, that’s exactly what your social media partner should be.