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5 Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Social Media Consultant

KEY TAKEAWAYS COVERED IN THE PODCAST
  • Check to make sure the consultant that you hire is active on their own social media. Huge amounts of followers don’t always mean success. Focus on how engaging they are with their own audience.
  • Social media is a fast-moving industry. Ask your potential consultant how many conferences they have attended or what they read for updates. You will want someone who remains up to date on all industry news!
  • Although there isn’t a qualification for just social media, you will want someone knowledgeable. Ask what qualifications they have that are suited for the industry. Do they have a marketing degree? Or, have they taken any courses from influencers in the industry?
  • You will want to see examples of past work your consultant has completed for other clients. You will want to see what specific campaigns they have done and what the result was. Don’t be afraid to ask for ROIs and results!
  • Look at the consultant’s testimonials. Better yet, ask to speak with some of their existing clients. You will want to know what the relationship is like and how they feel the project has gone.
THE ONE THING YOU NEED TO REMEMBER ABOVE ALL ELSE…

Hiring a social media consultant is extremely important for your business. You must choose wisely! Make sure that above all else they are able to interact and keep up with your followers, always engaging them. This is the most important part of social media marketing.

HIGHLIGHTS YOU SIMPLY CAN'T MISS
  • Question 1: Do they practice what they preach? – 04:11
  • Question 2: How do they keep up to date with industry changes? – 06:39
  • Question 3: What qualifications do they have? – 08:19
  • Question 4: Can they show examples of their best work? – 10:04
  • Question 5: Are there any testimonials or can they provide contact information for prior clients? – 11:59
LINKS TO RESOURCES MENTIONED IN TODAY'S EPISODE
Transcript below

 

Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Social Media Marketing Made Simple Podcast, and I'm your host, Teresa Heath-Wareing. I hope you've had a really good week, and I am really excited to talk about this week's podcast episode, because it's something that I am super passionate about.

If you've listened to some of the others where I've got a bit of passion out, I tend to talk quite fast, and I tend to record the podcast really quickly, so I'm kind of hoping that I'm going to do that this week, because I am actually away with my family on holiday. We have brought the children just to Wales.

I say just to Wales, that's really bad, isn't it? It's not just to Wales, Wales is lovely, and the children are having a great time. We're spending time at the beach, we're going swimming, and we're just hanging out as a family, which we don't do very often, if I'm honest. We all tend to have our own lives.

I know that sounds weird, but when I think about my step-son who's 15, he spends a huge amount of his time up in his room, or playing on his games, or on his phone. My eight year old, who is eight going on 18, she has got her iPad, and they tend to get so wrapped up in their lives, as do we as adults, so whether it's doing work, or normal adult stuff, we don't often spend a huge amount of time just all sitting in the same room and talking.

This is what we've been doing this week and it's lovely, so we're having a really fabulous time, but I've kicked them out this morning, because obviously one thing I can't do with them around is record a podcast. They've gone off to the park, and I'm here recording. So like I said, I'm hoping it's going to be a easy one to record, because I'm super passionate about it, and therefore it won't take all day. Let's see.

Okay, so today what we're going to be talking about is something really close to my heart. When I first started my business, one of the things that I was really struggling with, and I think I've talked about this before, is that there were social media people who were charging good money to businesses to do their social media, and they weren't very good. I was really concerned that when I started telling the world that I was going to offer social media consultancy, or training, or my agency were going to do the social media for people, I was super concerned that I didn't want people to think that I was a fraud, or I wasn't very good, or I didn't know what I was talking about.

When I first set up, I worked really hard to get really good at this, and I went and found all the world's experts, I did loads of training, I went back to my initial marketing degree to see how obviously that would help with doing social media and profiling customers, and that sort of thing. Like I said, I worked super hard to ensure that I was offering a good quality service.

But there was still lots of people out there offering social media that possibly weren't at the standard they should have been, or that their clients thought they were. Some time ago, I wrote a blog post, which I am now going to talk through as the podcast, about the questions you should ask when taking on a trainer or a consultant for social media.

If you are working in social media and you are a consultant, then this might be a great podcast for you to listen to in terms of the types of things that you might want to make sure that you tick these boxes. If you're not a social media person and you're a business, if you ever do think about taking on a social media person, then again, this is hopefully going to be really helpful for you.

I went through these five questions that you must ask. I'm going to talk you through these today, and hopefully by the end of this, you're going to have a really fair idea of if and when you take someone on, or if you are a social media person, that whether you or they tick these five boxes. Let's get started.

 

Question 1: Do they practice what they preach?

 

Question number one, do they practise what they preach? What I mean by this, is have you been and had a look at their social media? Have you checked out their follower numbers? Have you seen how quick they are to respond, to read posts, or to read tweet content? Do they get back to people? Are they active on it? Are their followers interacting with them?

Let me break this down a little bit. The first thing that most people will look at is follower numbers. Depending on the platform, these can be either easy or harder to get. If you were not so moral about this, then you could even go and buy followers.

I've seen some accounts with huge followers, that I've thought to myself, “Oh my gosh, how on earth have they got those followers, they've done three posts?” In fact, I had a great example of this. There was a guy who contacted me for training on social media, and he wanted me to train him so that he could go and do social media for a living. “Absolutely fine, not a problem with that,” I thought. I went to check out his social media just to have a look at him before I responded, and his Facebook page had something like 5,000 followers.

Now, a Facebook page is actually quite difficult. Unless you're paying in terms of to do like adverts, but even still, it would take a bit of an effort to get that many followers on Facebook. His Facebook page had 5,000 followers, and he had done two posts. Literally, two posts, and one of those was updating his cover photo, or something like that.

So there was no way on earth that these were genuine, real followers. And also, those two posts had no interaction on them at all, and he hadn't posted for what looked like weeks. I just think it's not just about the follower numbers, it's not just about how many people follow their different social accounts, it's also about how they're interacting, whether they're real, alive, what their posts look like, what they say about them. Are they real? Are they human behind their posts? Do they practise what they preach? Are they doing their own social media? Are they doing their own social media as well as their promising to do yours?

Now, I get it. Lots of people will say, “Well, I don't have time to do my own, because I'm doing everybody else's,” and I'm in exactly the same position, but actually for me, that's where my business changed. When I started to prove that I could maintain my own, then suddenly, that seemed to make quite a big difference.

 

Question 2: How do they keep up to date with industry changes?

 

Question number two to ask them, how do they keep up to date with industry changes? Now again, I've said before, we are in one of the fastest moving industries in the world. Social media moves at the speed of light, things change all the time, platforms evolve, they remove things, they bring in things, trends change, so how are they keeping up to date with things like that? That's a question I would ask them.

There were a few different ways in which they could be doing this. Are they doing courses or training? Are they attending events? Now, events are a really good one. I think by asking them what was the last conference they attended, I really think that is a worthwhile type of question.

In the UK, there aren't masses of social media conferences. There is Social Day, which happens in London. There's also MarketEd.Live, which is a general more marketing conference, but certainly has lots of social media aspects about it, and there's a new conference that's literally just been announced, which I'm so excited about, because I've been asked to speak at it. It's called Atomicon, and it's by Andrew and Pete, who I think I've mentioned before, but that's going to be a brilliant event, and that's happening next March.

So again, ask them what events they've been to. Also, I spent a lot of time and money going out to events in the States. I go to Social Media Marketing World, which is in San Diego every March. I also have attended Traffic & Conversion, I've attended Converted. I spoke at Converted last year, so I make the time and effort to go to these bigger conferences where I'm getting the information first, to make sure that I'm up to date.

 

Question 3: What qualifications do they have?

 

Onto question number three. Now, this is a tricky one, actually. What qualifications do they have? I'm not sat here saying they have to have a qualification, and there isn't really a qualification as such, that someone who manages social media could have. Now, there are lots that go around, you know, digital marketing, and I know a lot of the degrees include social media now, but in terms of tools and tactics, as I've just said, it moves so fast, that actually, if you got a degree in social media, by the time you've got your first job, probably most things have changed.

So this question's a bit tricky in terms of qualifications. Now, me, I have a marketing degree, and I'm a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketers. I feel like this is important, because actually, social media is another marketing tool. I'm quite happy of the fact that I come from marketing, and I have that degree. It's just interesting to ask the person what qualifications they might have, and is there anything that seems suited to this role.

I guess if they don't have a formal qualification of some sort, then going back to last question about sort of how are they keeping up to date, what courses have they done, who have they worked with, and go and Google those names. I know when I first started, [Maurice Smith 00:09:34] was really big on the social media scene, and I did some courses with Maurice Smith, because I wanted to make sure I knew what I was talking about.

It's something I continue to do to this day. I've done courses with Amy Porterfield, with Jasmine Star, with Maurice, I've said. I've done stuff with Kim [Gast 00:09:50]. Again, if you Googled any one of those names, you would see that they are experts in their field. That could be another way to look at if they don't have a qualification, as such.

 

Question 4: Can they show examples of their best work?

 

Okay, onto question number four. So the next thing I would be asking from your social media person is can they show me some examples of their best work? They might sort of say on question one, “The reason I haven't done my own things is because I'm busy doing someone else's.” If you're okay with that, then that's fine, but at the very least, you want to be saying to them, “Can you show me some examples of what you have then done for clients?”

You want them to point you in the direction of clients that they're currently working with, so you can watch them over time to make sure that posts are going out regularly, that they're interacting with people, but also you want to be asking them about campaigns, so have they done any specifics campaigns, and if so, what have they got from those campaigns?

I know one thing that we do quite a lot of is competitions on social media. I would be able to pull out one of the last competitions we did for a client and say, “This is what we did. This is the artwork we created. This is who we targeted. This is how we ran the campaign. This is the results they got.” Are they able to give you some of those more ROI type KPI figures? Are they able to actually say, “This is what we got from this campaign?”

Now, it's understandable that everyday social media doesn't always give you that return on investment, and not all accounts will be doing social media for that reason. We had a client where they literally just wanted a presence, and that was it. They weren't concerned about converting, or trying to develop an audience as such. They literally wanted an active page that when people did their research on them, they found them.

That wouldn't perhaps be the one that I would pull out to show, I would pull out the ones that worked really hard in terms of they're trying to build a following, or they're trying to drive traffic to their website, or something like that. But again, ask them for examples of that best work that they've done on social media, and what kind of results they got from it.

 

Question 5: Are there any testimonials or can they provide contact information for prior clients?

 

Last but not least, this follows on nicely from number four to number five, are there any testimonials we can see? Even better, ask if they can speak to the clients of the people that you've just seen the work for, because that would be the best way. If you've put forward a campaign or they've put forward a campaign to show you, then I think it'd be great for you to say, “That's a great campaign. Can I talk to that client to ask them how they felt that campaign went, and did that meet their objectives?”

At the very least, you want to see some testimonials. Ideally, you want to speak to clients. I know when I took on a VA initially, that's what I did. I asked if I could speak to some of their existing clients, and at least email them to say, “Can I just ask how things are? How'd you get on? What's it like?” And they email back glowing reviews, obviously, hence where I went with that.

For me, they are the best people to speak to, because if you're already doing business for someone, then they're going to have a really honest and true response in terms of how you work with them and what they provide for you. So like I said, number five, ask for those testimonials.

Let me run through those five questions again really quickly. One, do they practise what they preach? I.e., are they on social media, do they have follower, and are they interacting with people, and keeping things up to date? Question two, how do they keep up to date with industry updates? What courses are they doing, conferences are they going on?

Question three, do they have qualifications? If so, what are they? Question four, can they show you an example of their best work? And question five, are there any testimonials that they can give you, or even better, can you speak to one of their clients direct?

I really hope that this has covered off if you are going to take on a social media person, the kind of questions and things you want to be looking out for. Like I said, if you are a social media person, then do you tick those boxes? If you looked at yourself from the outside looking in, would you see those things? Would they see that you're keeping up to date with different things?

Again, one of the things as a social media person that I like to do is if I'm going anywhere, any conferences, or doing any training, I like to put that on social media too, so not only am I keeping active on social media, but I'm proving to people, “Look, I am learning all the time, and I am trying to do things to ensure that I keep up to date.”

So yeah, I really hope that this has been helpful, like I said, from both sides of the fence, really, whether you are a social media person or not, and if you want to take one on, then those five questions are great ones to start with. Anyway, this is a super quick one, which is really useful for me this week, because the fact that I'm away. I really hope you enjoyed it, and I will be back next week for the next episode. Have a great week until then.