Ten years ago we all would have laughed at the thought of hiring someone to teach us how to use Facebook to connect with our customers. Well, to be fair Facebook had only just started then and few people outside of Harvard had heard of it!
Even five years ago the job title ‘Social Media Stategist’ didn’t exist but now the world is suddenly full of people calling themselves social media consultants, strategists, trainers and managers.
Of course they are all promising to help you get more business from Twitter, Facebook, or even Pinterest or YouTube. But this proliferation of specialists can end up causing more confusion for those wanting to dip their toes into the social media shores!
So how do you decide who is the right person to help you and your business?
First think about your business and who the customers are that you really want to connect with.
Ask yourself these questions;-
Do you want to reach local customers or are you looking at a national or even international market?
How much of your business is or can be done online?
Do you serve just the business community, sell directly to end-users, or do you help both?
These questions will help you see what kind of customers you are looking for which will help you find a social media strategist that specialises in helping businesses like yours.
Look at what your competitors are doing with social media
You may see them connecting with customers in a way you would love to, or you may be uncomfortable with what they are doing. Either way it will start giving you some ideas about what you want to be doing on social media.
You can also look at the social media people that they are following on Twitter (or connected to on LinkedIn or Facebook!). They may be using them professionally or they may just be getting useful information from their blogs etc, either way, if they are inspiring people that inspire you, it won’t hurt for you to follow them too!
Ask your fellow business people for recommendations.
Even those whose businesses are totally different from yours may be able to point you in the direction of an honest social media consultant you may not otherwise have found.
Don’t choose right away!
Take your time and follow a selection, read their blogs, like their facebook page and really get to know them.
You don’t have to interact with them much at this stage, just observe what they are doing and saying.
Do they walk the walk or just talk about it?
Is the information they give away useful or is it just a sales pitch?
Do they have a reasonable amount of followers on twitter etc … after all if they can’t use social media effectively for their own business they are not likely to be able to do much for yours!
Lastly, when you are ready, start a dialogue with them.
See if you feel you can trust them just as you would any other business supplier. A good strategist will ask you how else you promote your business and want you to use social media as part of a marketing mix that is complementary, for example if you use a PR firm to get you into glossy magazines the social media part of your campaign should be ready to pick that up and promote it too.
I hope this helps you find your way through the maze, it’d be great if it led you to working with me but whoever you choose or even if you stick to going it alone I wish you every success!