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Social Media Consultants: Sorting the wheat from the chaff

As a small business owner you will be bombarded with advertising messages across all channels and if your marketing mix is predominantly offline, you might feel in need of a social media consultant to help you bridge the gap.  My muse is this, how do you know a good social media consultant from a bad one?

You’re probably well aware that social media websites like Facebook and Twitter are becoming an increasingly important (some would say vital) part of doing business online.  You might have even set up a Facebook account or Twitter account for your business already, in order to make sure that you’re doing everything possible to make your small business more visible to your potential customers. I set  up a Facebook page for our transport business back in 2007. I update it weekly, I’ve never been that into Facebook… whereas Twitter is a different story.

Your small business may have the social accounts but not be using them to their best advantage

But what if your social media efforts aren’t paying off quite as well as you had hoped? That your spray and pray strategy isn’t paying off?  What if you don’t even have a Facebook page or Twitter account because you don’t know where to start? What questions do you ask on Twitter? And you have a website but a blog? What the heck is that?

Many small business owners use social media consultants to help solve these problems.

In fact, there are many different marketing consultants who are willing to try to help your small business generate more leads and great conversations about your products and services, so how do you choose the right social media consultant for you?

Before you start the process of finding social media consultant, it’s a good idea to have a general idea of what you want to accomplish through your social media efforts. (This really only needs to be a broad outline – you don’t need to have any details in mind – that’s why you’re hiring the consultant in the first place.)

  • Do you want to generate sales directly through social media outlets?
  •  or are you looking to increase your brand awareness so that your sales staff can perform better?
  • Are you looking to use Facebook and Twitter to help you launch new products and services, and generate “buzz” around them?
  • Does your ideal client spend a lot of time on LinkedIn? And you need a LinkedIn expert?

Different social media consultants have different focuses and areas of expertise.

I work with clients looking for blog centric campaigns and specific product launches. I also take on the occasional client for a Twitter campaign. While you should consider as many different social media marketing agencies and individual consultants as your time allows, you should focus on those consultants who most often assist businesses with the types of campaigns that you think you might be interested in. For example, if you are looking for an all singing, all dancing Facebook campaign you’d go to a social media consultant who is a Facebook power user.

You also might want to consider how you want the social media campaigns to look. If you’re fairly confident that you don’t want or need an “over the top” or “cutting edge” promotional campaign, then you probably want to avoid the consultants and agencies that specialise in that type of promotion. You’re not going to feel at home with them.

A consulting firm that has been spectacularly successful in promoting snack s and energy drinks to teenagers might not be the best solution for your company if you’re in the business of selling life insurance products to newlyweds and new parents.

When you’ve found your potential Social Media Consultant – what next?

Ask to see examples of recent work each agency has done for any similar client. There may be situations where the agency has a confidentiality agreement in place with its client, and is prohibited from disclosing this information, but there should be plenty of other examples that they can give you. Some companies don’t take competing clients, I don’t take competing clients and have signed NDAs in the past preventing me from telling you what a brilliant job I did, as the company didn’t want anyone to know they’d used outside help.

Also ask each potential agency how it determines whether the campaigns they originate are successful and how do they measure success?

In other words, what metrics do they use to determine whether they have done a good job?

  • Is it simply the number of “Likes” that they generate for a client’s Facebook page,
  • or the number of Twitter followers they can bring?
  • Or do they have use other measures as a goal, such as bringing qualified leads to their clients’ websites?
  • Or blog subscribers?

The more realistic the goal and the metrics used, the better your social media consultant is. After all, they need to measure and manage your campaign to success.

While it’s essential to ask the consultants for this information, don’t neglect to do your own research.

Google is a great resource for finding out what others are saying about social media consultants. Use a critical eye to identify and discount the “puff pieces” that aren’t likely to be entirely objective.

Ask around, see who people are using –  the key here is to see who they are really using and not just recommending.

The companies you’re evaluating know how to navigate and manipulate social media properties,  experts at ensuring you see the best possible results. Back it up with your own research, call around, check testimonials and talk to the team – evaluate your answers.  Remember, the best social media consultant is the one you click with, that helps you achieve your goals and is accessible in the ways that you and your business require.


photo credit: Intersection Consulting

Featured photo credit: Intersection Consulting

Sarah Arrow

Hi, I'm Sarah Arrow and I want to help you increase your visibility. It's time to stop being the world's best kept secret and step into the spotlight. I created my first blogging challenge back in 2007, and I've helped 1000's of bloggers since then increase their presence online. I've been internationally recognised as a top content marketer, Forbes and MSN list my websites as top ones, and I'm the author of many quick-start marketing guides. You can find my books on Amazon. Let me be your guide through the business blogging maze. Join the free 30 day blogging challenge and get the recognition you desire.

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