Is social media one of the things on your to-do list that never gets addressed because you don’t know where to start, or how to use it effectively? Perhaps you have embarked on a social media implementation that has fizzled out because you have other more pressing priorities and don’t have the time to manage it effectively. For many small to medium-sized businesses, social media is a conundrum and the solution is to bring in a social media expert to assist.
Hiring an expert in social media can be a great solution to these problems because it enables you to cut to the chase without having to worry about the steep learning curve social media can entail. It also increases the likelihood of your organisation achieving its social media goals more quickly, but only if you choose the right organisation or individual to work with. Beware, if your chosen partner in this area turns out to be inept, you could end up throwing money down the drain, or worse, damaging your online reputation.
Here are ten tips that will help you determine how to hire the right social media help.
- Do a little research up front. Google the person or company to see whether the results are related to social media.
- Find them on LinkedIn; check their referrals, experience and how long they have been doing social media related work. If they don’t have a LinkedIn presence then maybe they are simply social media power users and not social media for business experts.
- Facebook and Twitter – check out their feeds – do they add value? Are they social media related? Avoid companies that have generic posts or worse, simply spout famous quotes. Also on Twitter, consider their follower counts, and remember that quality is always better than quantity when it comes to those.
- How long have they been doing social media? – social media is a relatively new principle but generally, if someone has been doing this less than a year then they are still wet behind the ears. Best to work with an organisation that has been doing social media for upwards of 2 years (we’ve been doing it for 5!).
- Do they ask the right questions? I am often asked which questions to ask a social media expert from a hiring perspective (and I will get to those momentarily) but more importantly, you can determine whether a social media expert knows his or her stuff by the questions she asks you. If she asks how many followers you want but doesn’t ask about your target audience, or about your business, then that should be a red flag. Social media is not simply about being on Twitter or Facebook. It is about using these tools strategically to build your business given your audience, marketplace, goals and resources, and a good social media strategist will take these into account.
- Do they have a business background? Social media should be a component of your overall marketing and business strategy and should complement your missions and goals. As such, a good social media expert should have a strong background in business systems whether it be through their education or experience. Working with someone with no business background that has many followers can be a mistake.
- A good question to ask a social media expert is how do they monitor and measure social media success. If they are flummoxed and don’t have a good answer then avoid them. If their answer includes mentions, interactions, web traffic analysis, community, insights and your goals then they are more likely to be on the right track.
- Ask them why you should use social media. If they answer that everyone is doing it then turn tail and run. However if they ask if your competitors, clients and prospects are online, and if you want to attract the next generation of customers, then move on to number 9.
- Social media professionals often get asked about the ROI of social media. Again, if an expert has no answer to this then they probably won’t be the right partner for you. It is much easier to track the ROI of a social media campaign than it is to track the effectiveness of some tradition marketing approaches such as billboard and newspaper ads. A good SM person will know this and will point out that your ROI will be dependent on what you want to achieve using these tools. They might give examples of projects they have worked on and how ROI was measured.
- Ask yourself if this is an individual or organisation that you can work closely with. When considering outsourcing your social media effort, it is extremely important that you chose a partner that you can work well with. Your social media will be a team effort and will likely involve lots of back and forth when maintaining your online presence, so work with someone you like and trust.
As with any partnership decision, often the best place to start when looking for a social media expert to work with is to ask people in your own business network who they work with and whether they would recommend them. Unfortunately, there are a lot of cowboys and snake oil salesmen claiming to be social media gurus right now, but if you follow the guidance outlined above you will be more likely to identify the right social media partner for you. Or you could just contact Out-Smarts, we do come highly recommended!