Should you or shouldn’t you hire a social media consultant? We know where Peter Shankman stands on the subject. Jim Louderback of Ad Age also weighed in this week with his piece titled “Why You Should Replace Your Social Media Experts With Wild Animals.” While I understand their argument – social media is simply about being social, no help required, so go out and socialize – I think the issue requires more consideration.
Social media cannot be viewed as an all no consultant or all pro-consultant proposition. Yes, social media is about being social. Some organizations grasp this concept intuitively and do quite well in the new media space without help from anyone. There is a flip side however. We don’t have to look very far to see that the social media efforts of some organizations clearly need help. They are often overly promotional, too infrequent or otherwise poorly executed. Clearly, a social media consultant is needed for these organizations in these situations if there is any hope for them to have success.
I think some of the confusion and doubt creeps into the picture because the point at which a consultant should be engaged isn’t clear cut for many. It doesn’t need to be that confusing.
Here are some scenarios when it might be wise to hire a consultant:
- You are unsure how to start in social media.
- You need assistance defining goals and objectives.
- You need help determining which social media platforms are right for your
- You want to be involved in social media, but don’t have the time.
- You are involved in social media but it has not “worked” for your organization.
The fear is that there are many people who are self-proclaimed “experts” in social media who really are not. Is this really any different from practically any industry or profession that exists? There will always be those people who are more qualified than others, and some who aren’t qualified at all. So when a social media consultant is needed – in some cases he or she will be needed – the question becomes how do we select one?
Here are some guidelines for evaluating the right social media consultant:
- Have they been active in social media for several years vs. weeks or months?
- Do they have a well established overall social media presence?
- Have they helped other organizations become successful using social media?
- Do they understand your goals and offer the assistance you need?
- Can they provide a list of references?
- Are they are a good fit for your organization?
Not every organization needs a social media consultant. They have naturally social cultures and thrive in new media. Other organizations are just the opposite and can greatly benefit from someone with true social media expertise. In this situation, there are many well-qualified consultants who are ready to assist.
What’s your take? Have you hired a social media consultant? Should we considering hiring them?
Author: Steve Sonn
Steve Sonn is the Principal of S2 Marketing Communications. He has more than 25 years of marketing and PR experience with health care and business-to-business companies.