What to Expect from Your Social Media Consultant

Guest Post by Mike Bass from Lakeshore Branding |

So you’ve finally decided to hire a social media consultant. Now — to make sure he or she earns his keep.

Hopefully, you didn’t hire someone whose only experience of “social media consulting” is having a personal Facebook profile and a Twitter account, because there’s certainly more to the job than just sharing links on a Wall, or tweeting about one’s breakfast menu, or having all the time in the world to spend online.

Here’s a useful piece of advice: know what to expect from your social media consultant. Why? Because you have a right to. You don’t want to approach every payday asking yourself, “What am I paying this so-called ‘expert’ for?” True, social media is a wide, ever-evolving landscape — generally unpredictable — but in this age, wherein everyone seems disposed to call themselves “experts” at something, it helps to clearly define your expectations from a professional you’ve just hired to perform a job.

Expect strategy: Your social media consultant should have a plan from Day One. What does he or she intend to accomplish by “Facebooking” or by “tweeting”, and what other social media tools are going to be used toward achieving the said goals?

Expect a custom and holistic social media strategy, created just for you and your brand — not a generic document that’s probably been stolen off a random blog. Expect creativity, and plenty of ideas, and lots of time dedicated to gathering clear insights, doing market research, and training the rest of the staff on how to execute this plan. Be alarmed if your social media consultant shows up at the office on the first day and immediately starts “tweeting” links to your coupon codes or blogging about your latest products. A blind barrage does not a strategy make.

Expect a “people person”: A social media consultant shouldn’t be, well, anti-social. You have the right to expect someone who isn’t only attuned to the social media landscape, but who’s also adept at managing people, building relationships, networking, and participating in engaging conversations — online and offline. “Geeky” is fine, but “sociable” and “friendly” are more important adjectives.

Expect overtime: Social media consultants are at it 24/7 — following links, writing “retweetable tweets”, thinking up blog post ideas, creating new profiles, responding to comments, and generally making your brand awesome. If he or she can’t do no more than an hour or two of work a day, you might have a good reason to question how much of an “expert” your social media consultant is.

Expect a social media policy: Your consultant should be comfortable with the idea of doing “foundational work”. This includes the creation of a clear social media policy that outlines clearly the value of social media to the business, and which takes into account the level of risk tolerance in your workplace as well as the kind of culture that your organization aims to foster. This policy should promote productivity — and protect privacy. So next time an employee “tweets” the confidential or the slanderous, you’re covered.

Expect reports and results: Your consultant should be able to turn blog comments, “tweets”, and “likes” into numbers — numbers you can understand, and analyzed in ways that matter to your bottom line. Expect analytics and reports, usage of appropriate monitoring tools, and understandable data that allows you basically to grow your brand and business via social media.

Mike Bass writes for Lakeshore Branding, an Internet marketing company in Chicago, IL. The team specializes in delivering services in SEO, SEM, online advertising, e-Commerce, social media consulting, online reputation management, and content creation.