The world is suddenly full of Social media consultants, strategists, trainers and managers and this proliferation of specialist can end up causing more confusion for those wanting to dip their toes into the water than ever! Partly this is because of a new training course that sprung up in January of this year offering to train people how to become social media managers even if they had no prior experience of it!
So how do you decide who is the right person to help you and your business?
Well first think about the size of your business and your desired market – 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? This way you can start looking for people who specialise in helping business like yours.
Have a look at what your competitors are doing with social media – and more importantly 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 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 a social media star 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!