WARNING: This is a borderline rant and therefore may not be suitable for sensitive eyes, but I’ll try to keep it civil. You’ve been warned.
“Good God, what are these people paying for?”
It’s a question I asked myself on more than one occasion in the recent months with a proliferation of literally hundreds of ‘social media experts’ springing up all over the place. It’s really upsetting, myself being one of the hundreds mentioned when I see what level of service and knowledge is being offered. I’m sorry, but knowing how to create a fan page on Facebook DOES NOT make someone an expert. Neither does starting a free blog or creating a Twitter account. You can create social media accounts until you’re blue in the face (and fingers) and still not yield any meaningful results.
The true value of a social media expert comes from his or her direct experience with these tools and achievement of measurable business RESULTS. Also… getting thousands of fake followers on Twitter by leveraging Twibes is not a business objective I would stand behind… and neither should your adviser. Social media can be very valuable and useful when planned properly and integrated into a digital marketing strategy. Just to give you some food for thought… let’s say you create a Facebook fan page. Do you know what to do next? Do you know what you’re going to say? Posting up sale items and 15% off coupons is certainly not going to send masses beating down your door.
Pardon the language, but there is a lot of BS in the marketplace and I feel sorry for those having to trudge through it, burn up their marketing dollars and get dismal results… leaving you wondering if social media is even worth the consideration. I hope you as a marketing manager or someone paying for these services will look beyond the stacked buzzwords, single page expert websites and seek some real value and actionable advice. With that in mind, I took the liberty of compiling a few things to look for when you’re considering help with social media.
Social Media Marketing Consultant Checklist:
1. Age of the Consultant or Agency.
While there are certainly exceptions to the rule, I found there is a significant gap in adoption of technology within those born before 1970 and after 1976, latter being more adept at learning, understanding and generally living with it and therefore better able to provide you with advice.
2. How connected are they?
This boils down to ‘practice what you preach’. If your consultant has almost no social media presence of their own, it’s like getting heart surgery from a plumber. No further discussion necessary.
3. Can you get even one example where their strategies produced REAL results?
Room full of monkeys can create a Facebook fan page, open a Twitter account or get your set up on Blogger. Like I mentioned before… the true value is in the insights from REAL results. Did the campaign generate sales? Did it create sustainable growth? What was the goal and how was it achieved? If the goal was to get 500 followers on twitter with no further strategy… reconsider.
4. What kind of insights can they offer?
Most marketing consultants worth their salt should be able to provide you with some new insights about your customers you didn’t have before. This is where social media can really be of value. Collecting, analyzing and interpreting social media intelligence can lead to some great insights and evolve your overall marketing strategy making it more effective.
5. Can you expect accountability?
Are they a fly-by-night operator? Someone who swoops in for the cash and leaves you high and dry when it comes time to look at longer-term engagement and accountability to goals and results? If you expect ongoing results, social media marketing takes some time and planning. Will your consultant be there to help and guide you along, correcting course along the way until you reach your objectives?
Next time, before you ask yourself WTF am I paying for, look through those questions and think. Engage consultants who are accountable for results and can put your business in a position that is better than your current one. Anyone and their monkey (I don’t know why I’m on this monkey kick) can set up a Facebook fan page, Twitter account or a free blog. True value comes in the form of insights and experience informing you what to do next.
I apologize for the rant, but dear god I’m getting sick of experts promising the world and delivering crap for your money.