The following guest post is from friend and colleague, Scott Hepburn. I’ve come to know Scott fairly well over the last year. Scott approaches communications challenges with a unique perspective as a former journalist. I’ve enjoyed Scott’s posts over the last year–you can read him regularly over on his blog, Media Emerging. He also owns a consultancy by that same name (if you’re in Charlotte or the surrounding communities, you’d be wise to give Scott a call). I’m honored to have him guest posting today.
There’s a debate in marketing and PR circles about whether “social media consultant” is a legitimate profession. I use one simple test: Does it satisfy a need?
Not sure if you need a social media consultant? Here’s a 5-minute self-assessment:
- Does your in-house “Facebook expert” (look around for a 20-something…) know how to achieve business objectives on Facebook, or just run a mafia?
- Aside from Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn, can you name any other social networks? (Hint: There are hundreds of ‘em.) The one you’ve never heard of may just be where your customers are.
- Do you know how to create content that builds trust, loyalty, and engagement with your target audience?
- Can you name five ways to increase profits via social media without increasing sales? (Here are five to start with: Decrease market research costs, reduce recruiting costs, reduce customer service costs, eliminate expensive advertising, and reduce travel expenses through digital collaboration)
- Are you aware of the risks, hurdles, traps and paths to social media failure?
- Do you know what CAN be measured in social media, what CAN’T be measured, what SHOULD be measured and what SHOULDN’T be measured? Check out Robin Broitman’s social media metrics superlist to get started.
- Do you have pre-set expectations of what you’ll accomplish with social media? How did you arrive at those expectations? Do you need a social media reality check?
- Can you articulate what role every person in your organization will play in executing your social media program?
- Could you train every person on your staff…and make the training relevant to each person?
- Do your employee performance evaluations acknowledge employees’ social media contributions? Do you know how to assess the value of these contributions?
- Do you know how to identify individuals who influence your audience online? Do you know the best way to engage these influencers?
- Can you describe the technographic profile of your customers? Are they predominantly content creators? Commenters? Spectators?
- Do you know how to integrate social media with other communication tools?
- Do you have the resources to handle unanticipated outcomes, be they positive or negative?
- Since ROI is sure to come up, do you know how to calculate return on investment (ROI) correctly?
If you made it this far, you can probably read the tea leaves: It’s time to call a social media specialist. If he says he’s certified, though, steer clear. Here’s a guide to finding the right social media strategist.