A few years ago, a friend in her thirties responded to my statement about starting my own social media consulting firm by saying, "Do you really think that's going to be a thing?"
A few years ago, that kind of response was still acceptable. Instagram was being used, but only by teenagers and coeds without significant buying power. We all used Pinterest for recipes or craft ideas for our kids. Who had even heard of Etsy or Tik Tok or Tumblr? Businesses only needed LinkedIn to network, right?
People, it's not 2012 anymore. Social media is here to stay. Consider these stats:
Social Media is used by 42% of the global population, or 3.2 billion people
2/3 of adults in the United States use Facebook
While it's no surprise that 90% of millenials use social media, it might come as a surprise that nearly 50% of Baby Boomers also use social media.
An average of 2.22 hours PER DAY are spent on social media.
54% of Social Browsers use Social Media to research products.
There's a platform for every type of business, whether you are B2B or B2C. And if you're not using it, or learning how to use it, you will be left behind.
But what if you know all this, yet you are too embarrassed to admit that you don't know how to use it WELL, either personally or professionally? Beyond asking your kids or grandkids to show you a few things (and they may not even be on the platform you need to use!) who do you turn to? There is so much information out there, but what is right for you and for your industry?
With all these questions, it's no surprise that many entrepreneurs throw their hands up and say "Forget it, we'll rely on word of mouth." That's when you know you need a social media strategist or coach.
There are a lot of people out there who say they can help you grow your business on social media. I'm sure most of them can. For the right amount of dollars spent on advertising, anyone can build a following. But what about results? What about sales? What about understanding what your employees are doing when they're on their phones at work? What if you don't have employees and you have to do it yourself?
Here are some questions that you should ask yourself and the consultant your interviewing to decide if the relationship will be a good match.
1. What do I want to achieve by developing a social media presence?
Is it increased awareness of my product, service, or organization? Do I want to focus on branding? Or am I trying to increase sales? Is my goal to offer better customer service? Having a clear starting point is key to determine what is working and what you could do differently.
2. How much time do I have to devote to implementing strategies? If I have no time, who on my team can help me and how much time do they have?
Be realistic. You may want to devote an hour everyday to social media, but if finding an extra hour in your day is going to prove challenging, you might bite off more than you can chew. It's okay to start small, as long as you start!
3. If I have no time to implement strategies, how much can I afford to spend each month to have someone do it for me? For how many months? What results do I need to see in that time?
Once again, be realistic. What if I offered you $100 to produce an entire month of social media posts on four platforms...would you take it? Would it be worth your time for $100? If not, than it is not likely to be worth a professional's time either. But what if you only have $100 extra each month? Then set realistic expectations for whomever you hire. For example, for $100/month, you expect to grow your Facebook followers by 5% and to develop 2 warm leads to purchase your products/services. How many warm leads do you need to make a sale? How much is each worth to you? Will you be able to increase your marketing budget in the next three months?
Ask the consultant:
1. Are you using the social media accounts you are telling me to use? How do you know they work?
Most social media experts and strategists spend more time on their clients' social media accounts than on their own, so don't expect them to have a big following. Nevertheless, are they using Facebook personally? How about Instagram? If they are not intimately familiar with the platform they are recommending, how can they adjust and tweak your strategy to work for you? While anyone can read enough blogs to become an expert, if they haven't put those skills into practice at least once, they will be experimenting with your reputation on the line.
2. Are you outsourcing to another company?
This is a common practice. So someone who never met you, talked to you, or visited your business will be representing your "voice" on social media. Just ask yourself if you are okay with that.
3. How are you charging me? What are you doing for what you are charging me?
Some consultants charge thousands of dollars for an advertising campaign, and then they outsource it to another company for half the price. Others just charge for their time and the cost of the advertising. Which one do you want to work with?
4. Will I be able to call and ask you questions? Email?
How much access do you have to your "coach"? Do you need more? How will that be billed?
5. How involved can I be in the process? Will you teach me and my team how to do the things you are doing?
If your goal is to learn how to implement the strategies on your own, will they teach you what they know? Will you need to take notes or will they give you a report? Will that cost extra?
6. Can you help me with my other marketing needs?
If you want to integrate your website, email marketing, and social media, you will need a strategist who can either do all three themselves, or who can subcontract your marketing needs and oversee the process. Does your consultant have the time and the resources for additional services?
Obviously, you need to determine if you want to work with a local company, or someone over the phone or video chat. Either one is fine, depending on your technical know-how. For example, it is a lot easier to have a local person come in and give a presentation to your team than to try to figure out the technology behind a video conference call if no one on your team has done one before.
And then there is your budget. Not all consultants charge the same, and price is not always an indicator of results. It's tempting to think that the more expensive something is, the better results you'll get, such as buying a Rolls Royce or a Hyundai. But if your goal is to learn how to use social media for an occasional Facebook post, then you probably don't need the Rolls Royce or the Hyundai when a bicycle would do. However, if you are planning on doing a worldwide roll out of a new product, you may need an entire fleet of vehicles instead of one fancy car.
Always start with the first question. What do I want to achieve with my social media presence? Then choose a strategist or planner who gets it and gets you.
If you are interested in working with us, shoot us an email with your goals.