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Marketing Insights

Choosing a Social Media Consultant

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social-media-graphicAre you using social media to promote your business successfully? Or are you still watching unsure of the advantage your company will gain? I only advise social media when a company has their other advertising plans working well. That includes that their website is built well and has optimized SEO and PPC marketing efforts.

I am going to make a statement you rarely, if ever, will hear. Social media may not be right for you, for your business, because you can get greater ROI elsewhere and/or you aren’t prepared to execute it regularly.

Social media success depends on regularly posting to the networks that your customers are on and developing a loyal following. In all honesty, it is not quick or easy though in theory it is simple. Determine which social media has the biggest audience of your customers and engage them there. Sounds easy but it can use a lot of time with difficulty in measuring results. Measuring results is more than how many people saw your post.

Coca Cola was one of the first brands to embrace and use Facebook and other social platforms to market their brands. 2 years ago they evaluated their efforts and Ad Age published that Coca Cola found the social media attributed to “0” sales. That’s correct. Their big efforts on Facebook did not achieve any sales of their product. They were ok with that because their efforts on Facebook and other social media sites is to increase brand visibility and engagement.

Please continue reading because you have to define the results you want from social media before interviewing consultants. If they tell you they can show results quickly it may not be the results you expect.

Social media is a powerful tool to build your brand awareness. It cannot be the only tool in your marketing plan. It takes a lot of time whether it is your time, an employees time or you hire a professional service to run your social media efforts. Time is the main reason many companies don’t engage in social media marketing and fail at using social media. This is also the best reason to hire an online marketing firm or professional to execute your social media campaign. You must post frequently and consistently. Your messages can’t be pushy sales. Social and blogging is about helping and creating authority without pushiness (no screaming we are better, best prices).

There are plenty of ‘experts’ making claims of the success they will deliver. But you need to have someone who understands your industry and customer. Many of them don’t have the experience you need, so how to choose ‘the one’?Social media is relatively new and there isn’t a degree being offered in colleges for a BA in social media. This industry is in its infancy so a lot of "sharks" to be mindful of. Here are some key things you should consider...

English language and writing skills

Marketing in the US requires an English proficient writer. Have you noticed some of the email solicitations for web design and social media content with grammar mistakes that clue you in that they are foreign? Social media management and execution requires professional-level English language and writing skills as this is above all else a writing job. Find out where they are based, even their team that writes and posts, and ask them about their qualifications. Be thorough in questioning to be sure they can speak to your audience expertly with our lingo.

Writing Samples

Everyone who is worth considering will have samples to show you. Some will have experience with your competitors and within your vertical market. But you shouldn’t limit it to that narrow scope. Look for professionals that show quality content and have the ability to write for a variety of industries well. You are looking for proof that they write well and that the copy speaks to the audience. I have heard of writers providing articles to "IT" companies for their blog about tax requirements. That show they are just focused on quantity. The IT company should not be posting articles or engaging prospective clients about accounting practices.

Quality Customer Service

Service depends on listening and understanding the customer. Social media professionals need to have client service skills too. Do they just do what you ask or dictate what you need without regard to your business plans, growth areas? You can demand that the company you work with works as a partner that has your business success at the forefront of their efforts, who is advising you what is best and listening above all. They will put you at ease because you re assured that they know what you asked for and what you need by their words and actions.

Digital Marketing Technologies

Social media is an online marketing tool. Just one of the influencers that you can use to build brand impression and build your business. Your social media expert should be familiar with digital terminology like what is PPC, CPM, CPC, excess inventory, community management, inbound marketing, etc. Ask them if they do AdWords, if they can't they don't understand digital advertising, pass them by. You don’t want someone that is doing Social Media because they are a writer and it is all they know how to do.

Do They Require A Minimum Budget

Here’s where most companies discover they can’t add social media to their basket of marketing tools. Marketing budgets don’t always align with business goals. I still hear companies say they are doing fine working as they always have, cold calling and paying yellow pages to do their PPC. If you want and need to competing with the big brands you have to use  social marketing. Know what you competitors are doing and learn what it costs.

There are all sizes of companies performing social media services from those touting big brand clients to freelancers working at home. There are great writers and social marketers working for themselves. If you have a small budget you can get the same quality work from a small company and maybe better service.

Get a detailed description of what they will be doing for the proposal. If they are regularly providing social media services they can tell you how many hours a week/day it will require to achieve coverage “you” have requested and can tell you the minimum you need spend. Anyone can give you stats of the results they achieved to defend the time they have worked on your campaign when all they sell is social marketing. They should be honest to tell you if your budget would be wasted on social media and advise whether PPC, SEO, emailing and/or other online marketing tools would provide faster ROI.

Campaign Measurements

Agree on the results that need to be achieved long and short term. The social networking approach should be tailored to your business goals. Activities should be measurable. It can be increasing visibility by the number of positive online interactions, reducing negative chatter around your brand, maybe measuring sales though that is harder to to do if you recall Coca Cola’s research on their social media efforts on Facebook and Twitter.

This is not a complete set of points to use in choosing a social media pro who understands your industry and can help you engage with your community. But these are key points to cover to be able to find a social media consultant that will help your company have successful results with social media.

This is what we do at Catalpha we would love to speak with you about your social media and online marketing efforts. if you need a 2nd opinion on your strategy or your current efforts by another company we'd be happy to provide a free analysis and proposal.

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Topics: Online Marketing, Social Media, Inbound Marketing


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