About a year ago, I remember reaching a crossroads for myself around what career path I wanted to align myself with. I had built up close to 12+ years of experience around digital marketing, but was really gravitating towards social media marketing. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time at Microsoft Advertising on the community team. MA has established themselves as a leader in brands using social, and I was lucky enough to be a part of that team in the early stages as social media tools like Facebook and Twitter began to take off.
I had reservations around focusing my career primarily on social early on for the fear of the fad wearing off eventually. But I eventually came to terms with the fact that I had fortune of being in the right place at the right time for a variety of experiences that allowed me to be looked at as a thought leader when it came to developing and executing social media strategies for businesses. I never really considered myself to be that, but I felt fortunate that my career path said otherwise.
Today I feel great about the choices I have made, and it has become clear that social media as a business strategy isn’t going away anytime soon. The combination of a growing connected world and tools to enable society to interact effortlessly has businesses clamoring to figure out how to properly integrate a social media strategy into their existing marketing plans.
Of course with all the tremendous opportunity also comes an army of self proclaimed social media “experts”, “gurus”, “ninjas”, “warlords” or whatever silly name you can think of. And if you’re not…well, hell…just down a couple of these babies and you will be!
It’s an interesting dynamic, because you have platforms that are so incredibly enabling. Anyone with an internet connection can easily build sizeable networks, launch a blog or make a video. And they have. Thousands of people are jumping on the social bandwagon and touting themselves as experts in the field. Don’t believe me? Do a search on the term “social media douchebags”. It’s become its own epidemic.
Let’s be honest. Nobody is a social media expert, present company included. There are plenty of extremely talented individuals out there that can lay down a solid social media strategy that delivers real business results, but I guarantee you those folks are not the ones referring to themselves as experts.
So how do you sift through the pretenders when trying to find a consultant? I would start with these tips:
- Avoid The Car Salesman – If it feels too salesy, look the other way. The best social media strategists and marketers don’t have to toot their own horn. They’ve established themselves through well written blogs with sizeable followings, or strong portfolios demonstrating case studies of real business results.
- Find Real Experience – One great way to ensure you’re getting the real deal is to find those that have or had social media experience at well known brands or companies. It’s not a guarantee, but it’s much more likely these folks will have had access to better tools and resources, and can point to specific wins around their social media efforts.
- Measurable Results – The biggest gap between the real deals and the pretenders can be found in the numbers. Those that can really deliver on the social front are those that know how to measure the right results for any particular client, and what tools/resources to use to get the job done. It’s not just about how many likes or followers you have.
- Broader Experience – Here’s a great measuring stick, do they have a broader scope of experience beyond social? Most of the pretenders just jumped on the social media bandwagon and got their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts going early on. See through it by understanding if they have a deeper knowledge that spans across multiple channels and expertise.
- Go With Your Gut – In all honesty, after doing your due diligence, just ask yourself if it feels right. Take the time to consider a few different options, and research them. The right and qualified person will become clear.
What has your experience been? Leave me a comment as I’d love to hear.