There are so many folks coming out of the woodwork these days that claim to be social media experts. It’s hard to know who’s a snake oil salesman and who really has the good stuff. For the most part, a social media expert needs to be more than someone who’s anointed themselves with the title. Here are five quick tips that will help you sniff out a good partner to help you achieve your objectives in social media:
1. Practice what they preach. Anyone trying to advise you on social media engagement for your company should be living it and breathing it on a daily basis – for their own agency, for their own brand, and for their clients. It should not be a separate practice, or a single individual in the company that understands the stuff, it should be part of the DNA of how the organization thinks, works and operates.
2. Knowing how to use a hammer doesn’t mean that you can build a house. Okay, so they have a Facebook page and a Twitter account, but is there a strategy behind their efforts? Are there measurable business results? Can they qualify the outcome of their efforts? It’s not enough to understand the mechanics of social media tools, you need to have a vision, a strategy, execution and ongoing engagement that aligns with the organization’s business goals.
3. It’s your car, you need to learn how to drive it. Any social media expert worth their salt knows that someone from within the company/brand needs to be the dominant voice for authentic and credible engagement. Social media requires expertise to help organizations craft a strategy, understand the mediums and execute a successful launch. However, they need to be grooming you and training your company to take the wheel for the long term. If not, they’ll get to bill you by the hour for a long time (fun for them, not for you) and your customers will lose interest in talking to your ‘handlers’ instead of the real deal.
4. Check out the merchandise/squeeze the produce. Can your expert produce the goods and show you successful examples of their work? Don’t just take their word for it, ask to speak with clients, check out the communities, get some qualitative and quantitative data on the ROI of their campaigns.
5. Eating brie and drinking champagne does not mean you can speak French. At the end of the day, even if your social media agency/expert passes the litmus tests of #1-4, #5 is the deal breaker. An expert in social media for power moms may not be a fit for the next cloud computing player. Your social media expert must also understand your target audience and your industry. If they don’t come from that arena, they’ll probably need a serious education before they can go from lactating moms to chatting up IT geeks.
There are some very talented, and very intelligent folks in this arena. But, there are also quite a few selling smoke and mirrors. Just like you would for any major investment, you need to do your research and your due dilligence to make sure you’re getting the good stuff.