It seems these days there are many ‘social media experts’ claiming that they can help you tweet, blog, or web 2.0 your way to success. How do you know who to believe? Here are some guidelines to help you determine whether your ‘expert’ is an aficionado, or just ‘tweeting Dixie.’
Practices what they preach. Does the consultant or agency use social media for their own business? As we cover in our social media workshops and training, to know it, you must do it. If they are using social media, it should be clear from their website, they should be involved in at least two aspects of the following: a blog, Twitter account, a LinkedIn presence, or a Facebook page. This is the first step, and look for the qualities below to make sure they’re really involved with it.
Has a history, not just accounts and followers. Sure, the ‘expert’ has a blog and a twitter account, but for how long, and how often do they update it? Look for someone who’s been active in several forms of social media for a minimum of one year. For a blog, check the archives, which should be listed in the sidebar, and for Twitter, check out howlonghaveyoubeentweeting.com. Number of Twitter followers can be deceiving, as there are ways you can grow this number artificially–look at age instead.
Is a part of the community. This aspect may be a little harder to gauge, but you should make sure your consultant is a part of the community you want to reach. It’s possible to set up an account, participate, and still not really ‘get it’ if tweets, etc. are just a way to broadcast news. Look for things like engagement on Twitter (@[user] text in tweets) or comments on their blog. There are tools which measure Twitter influence, such as WeFollow or Twitter Grader, and also look to see how many Twitter lists they’re mentioned on (as an example, @Comprendia is on 138 lists, which is a reasonable number). You can check their blog traffic on compete.com–I’d say anything over 500 visitors a month is reasonable. You can also ask around or ask them for a social media recommendation from someone who can speak about their influence and contributions to the community.
Knows YOUR customers. It is easy for an agency to claim they know social media, as there are myriad resources and books on the subject, and it does not take expertise to carry out tactics. Social media campaigns require that your customers participate, some describe it as the need to get into their heads. It is crucial that you understand if your customers are using social media, and how. For example, some groups may be more open to blogging, others to video. Ask your consultant for case studies with YOUR customers. Also look for evidence that they interact with them personally, which may take extra effort for them, as they aren’t technically THEIR customers. Ask them verbally about some of the key social media influencers in your field, and if they can’t name any, that’s a bad sign.
Does not describe themselves as a ‘guru.’ We laugh a little at people who describe themselves as an expert or guru, because we know that it is obvious when someone truly is one, there is no need for self-proclaiming. Check out social media giant Robert Scoble’s LinkedIn profile–it is very modest, yet a quick Google search shows you he’s got an impressive resume. This is another way to determine whether your consultant is experienced–do Google searches for them, as well as for the proficiencies you desire, and see how they fare.
I hope you find this list useful, and feel free to contact us if you have questions, or feel free to leave them below.
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