By Jesse Bouman
The social media industry has been maturing over the past few years. Brands are really starting to accept it as a marketing medium and social media marketers are becoming more savvy and creative when it comes to connecting with audiences. There are much fewer charlatans running around, calling themselves “Gurus” and dispensing pedantic advice for $100 an hour. But, still, to many, social media seems really easy. All you have to do is post to Facebook right? This is what makes it difficult for business owners to determine a social media consultant or agency’s real value. Here are two questions you can ask anyone that can give you a much greater understanding of their knowledge.
Yes, it’s very uncommon for anyone to ask, but failure is very telling. No one really likes to talk about their failures with past clients, because they think it gives the impression that they’ve let their previous clients down. Well, this might be the case, but wouldn’t you prefer that they know where they’ve previously made their mistakes? Isn’t it better for you to know it was on someone else’s dime? You don’t want to be the one footing the bill for someone’s early learning experiences. If the consultant is smart, they’ll be able to tell you what they learned and how it affected future strategies and tactics. I wouldn’t trust anyone who says they haven’t had any failures. They are either lying or have very little experience.
Measuring social media metrics is still not a uniform science like determining the click through rate on a PPC ad. Social media metrics have improved greatly over the years, and many new tools have made reporting easier. But determining which metrics to measure is still dependent on the client’s goals. So ask your consultant how they measure success. Don’t let them off the hook when they tell you it’s difficult to answer because they don’t know your business and/or goals. Have them give you examples of previous clients and what metrics they measured for these clients. These metrics will help you understand how they brought value to their previous clients and it will help you determine whether or not this consultant is right for you.
Social media is just one piece of the marketing pie. But it’s an increasingly important piece as more time is spent online. Make sure your company doesn’t hand off your company’s social media duties to a $10 an hour intern. Otherwise you might run into a catastrophic problem like Kenneth Cole experienced. Asking these two questions will greatly help your vetting process. Also, please feel free to contact me if you have any specific questions about social media for your business.
Jesse Bouman is the founder of Demeter Interactive. He is a stubborn entrepreneur, budding philanthropist, social media nerd, and technology geek. When not at his desk blogging or tweeting, he can be found at the beach, in a coffee shop, exploring LA’s hidden treasures, or playing a game of kickball. You can email him at Jesse (at) DemeterInteractive (dot) com.