For many, the choice to outsource a service is made because a business doesn’t have expertise or resources in a particular field. For social media, consultants have become somewhat of a controversial topic. Proponents believe that social media consultants deliver superior value in their experience building communities and their contacts. However, opponents often criticize that social media should be an internal process and requires day to day fostering internally.
Regardless, businesses are seeing a need for social media, according to a recent Hubspot Survey, “53% of executives believe they must adopt social business or (they) risk falling behind.” This isn’t necessarily surprising given the fact that some businesses are reporting ROI’s in the thousands with social media. Whether you are a new business trying to get insight in to how social can impact your startup, or a seasoned marketer looking for a bit more expertise in social, you’ve probably considered hiring a social media consultant
Only 17% of executives think their business is “ahead of the curve with their social strategy. This means 83% of businesses feel like they aren’t experiencing what everybody is raving about with social media. Is the lack of confidence due to their inability to track ROI? More importantly, can hire expert consultants actually improve social media reporting and ROI tracking.
What is Your Goal?
The most important question to ask yourself when deciding on a social media consultant is what is your goal? Are you looking to improve traffic to your e-commerce site or do you want to generate leads? Every business has different end goals in mind and this impacts how social media consultants deliver ROI.
One of the key areas of concerns for social media consultants is optimizing non-revenue generating activities and comparing them against company performance. A consultant that is given 6 months to report on social media success may say to you, “We’ve bumped your traffic 200% and built a community of 3,000 followers.” If your goal is to generate sales you are going to be saying, “So what does that mean to me?” Over a timed duration the ROI isn’t a black and white process with many consultants. They will prepare a report of their activities and cross reference them with the success of your goals. For many businesses, this isn’t good enough, but for the believers it will suffice.
Check Their Networks
Always ask what a social media consultant’s “claim to fame” is. What makes them any different than a kid on twitter with 2,000 followers? Evaluate their networks, are they well connected to top gurus like Jason Falls, Jay Baer and Chris Brogan? If your social strategy is heavily tied to content, you are going to want a social media consultant that has a well establish network.
Content marketing success in social depends on where you drop your content. If you visualize your opportunity as a pyramid, the higher authority you drop content the more opportunity within the pyramid, you have. Therefore hiring a social media consultant with a heavy content marketing background may make sense for you. Make sure you check his/her references before evaluating how successful your content could be in the hands of your social consultant.
How Do They Tie Non-Financial Impact Activities to Revenue
This is the ultimate question with social media. Numbers aren’t necessarily black and white, so things like “mentions,” “Klout score,” and “tweets” may not sit well in a boardroom talking about pricing strategy, revenue goals and cost cutting initiatives. How well your social media consultant can tie these non revenue activities to correlate with a particular aspect of your business is the key.
Hiring a social media consultant is a confusing time for many. If you make sure that you trust your potential prospect and evaluate in real terms how the will impact performance you will be able to gauge your satisfaction with his/ her work. As businesses are investing more in social, we will likely see social media consultants becoming more data and fact driven than dream and promise drive.
Matt Krautstrunk is an expert writer on everything from social media to inbound call centers at Resource Nation.