I want to suggest a few questions to ask (and a few things to check) to determine whether a social media expert or his company is credible to give you advice/consult you on social media. What’s the expert’s definition of social media? How will he measure the success of your campaign? Do they have an experience in working with companies of same size? More of these questions (and explanations of what they mean) below.
1. How Do You Define Social Media?
Why ask this: Well guess what, there’s not a universal definition for social media. Even Wikipedia has several of them. The main objective of this question is to gain clarity of how exactly that person is going to help you.
An additional question to ask is: How exactly are you going to help me in social media? What platform are you going to use? In what way will you utilize them? There are a lot of social media blogs/consultants who can be very vague about this and asking this may help you avoid those people.
2. How Will We Measure the Progress?
Why ask this: You want to make sure that expert has the tools in place to measure whether the social media campaign is effective. Does it affect brand awareness? Does it affect the bottom line?
But wait, you might say, aren’t those things impossible to measure? There are a lot of social monitoring tools out there that can help you accomplish this. Heck, you can even use your Analytics software to get some help. Let’s say the goal is to increase brand awareness. You can track the new vs. returning visitors ratio and track people who stayed more on the page. Avinash Kaushik, a web analytics guru has a great article on this.
The point is that you CAN take some steps and MEASURE your social media campaign success. If you don’t measure, how will you know whether the social media expert or his company was good? Beware if ‘experts’ say they have no specific metrics set in place for your campaign.
3. Do you have case studies with SPECIFIC results?
Why ask this: If someone says they can’t give you case studies because they want to protect the privacy of their clients, that’s a lame excuse. What many consulting companies do is give you the case studies but HIDE the name of the company. For example:
– We’ve done a social media campaign for a company (can’t disclose the name) that sells e-learning courses. We’ve created a Facebook game on the topic to engage their 54323 fans. The results were: The game was featured on 5 authority sites from that specific niche and the overall traffic to the website increased by 30%.
You might have noticed pattern here…a good case study contains specific data. No vague responses like “we worked with xyz, created a Facebook game and they were very satisfied with the results. They said they’re going to use our service again because it affected our bottom line.”
Better yet, ask for case studies from businesses from THE SAME SIZE. Some social media companies work with mostly big businesses to engage their existing fans. But what if you’re a small business and don’t have a big fan base? Then you may have to look for a different kind of consultation the current expert doesn’t provide.
4. Do you have any researchers your team?
Why ask this: I don’t mean researchers in the most rigorous sense but people who are using the scientific method. People who design tests, observe and analyze the data. Marketing Sherpa, for example, has a bunch of researchers who regularly public research reports on social media. And they’re not the only company who does this.
5. How do you make sure you stay on the top of the game?
Why ask this: This is an optional question but should help you in my opinion to get a glimpse into the mindset of the expert or his company. Are they doing ongoing research to see what works in social media? Or maybe they are following the latest trends in their practices? As always, more SPECIFIC responses trump vague ones.