We all know that social media is the way to connect with customers, but as a business or a brand, how do you know who to turn to for help? Everyone seems to be a social media “expert” these days, but not all experts are created equal. There is an art to using social media successfully, particularly to promote a brand, but having a Twitter account does not make someone an expert. Here’s how to vet your expert or agency and get the best possible help with your social media outreach.
Be wary of any social media “expert” who isn’t already using social media, and using it well. Your consultant or agency should be able to speak, from experience, about all of the outlets that he or she is recommending your business engage with — as well as being able to recommend outlets you hadn’t thought of (after all, this person is the expert). They should also be able to explain, in simple, understandable terms, how to use these platforms, and how to choose the ones that will be of most use to you and your customers.
Ask for details on how they will use social media to grow your brand. The agency or consultant should be able to articulate goals and timelines — 500 Facebook fans in the next 30 days, for example, or 10 Foursquare check-ins per day at your brick-and-mortar location, or three blog posts per week featuring your brand or product — as well as offering strategies for achieving those goals.
Have your expert submit writing samples. Social media relies heavily on the written word; if your consultant will be updating your brand’s blog, Facebook page, or Twitter feed for you, be sure that their writing is up to your standards. You are looking for interesting, relevant, grammatically correct content. If the consultant or agency has a Facebook page or Twitter feed that they can share with you (either her personal accounts or another client’s), look those over carefully; feel free as well to ask for sample posts relevant to your brand.
Keep an eye on the conversation. Hiring a consultant to manage social media outreach for your brand doesn’t mean that you’re off the hook. Follow your brand on Facebook and Twitter; read your business’s blog. If you see something that’s not working, let the consultant know and if you see something you really like, let them know that, too. But remember: they may be the social media experts, but you’re the brand expert. Together you can create a voice for your brand and a community for your business.
Looking for examples of businesses and brands that are succeeding at social media? Some of my favorite Facebook pages are listed below including a few clients of Creative Concepts; these brands have a clear voice and an excellent sense of community, and always offer well-written, engaging status updates.