10 Questions to ask your Social Media Consultant
Finding the right fit and person to drive forward your business using social media strategy is getting increasingly difficult. With so many individuals out there, how do you know who is right for you?
We've compiled this list of questions to help Marketing Directors / Managers and business owners navigate this difficult area and ask the right questions from the start.
1. What experience do you have?
One of your first talking points will be to find out how long your contact has been working in social media and from what perspective they approach it. There are many types of social media consultant, and you'll really want to find someone who has experience at the level that is most important to your business, or for brands with wider requirements to really consider the budget investment required. For example, if your brand is having trouble keeping up with customer enquiries on social media and the skills don't exist in-house then you'd need to focus on finding a community manager who has successfully run pages on behalf of a brand before and can work closely with your internal teams. However, if you need a more topline focus on social media strategy, your business will benefit from working with someone with a strategic digital marketing or direct marketing approach, as well as an understanding of the benefits of social media.
2. What have you achieved for previous clients?
As well as an example of the type of clients they have worked with previously, you'll obviously want to discuss what the consultant has achieved for the brand. Ask to be talked through a few examples, focusing on exactly what role they played in each project, how they created the strategy, and how many others they worked with to deliver the results. After talking through a few projects, you should get a good feel for their approach. Are they planned and methodological, or more creative do-oers, with someone else having directed the strategy? Or are they able to effectively plan a campaign themselves, overseeing the implementation?
3. Are you a community manager, content marketer, PR, copywriter or a strategist?
Following on from this, how would the individual define themselves? There are many approaches and backgrounds to social media consultants, and one isn't necessarily better than the other; it all comes down to your individual business needs. It's likely that you'll need more than one person to work on your social media campaigns - from the strategist to research, plan, setup and analyse your project, through to the editorial and copywriter who will create the content, the graphic designer to create the most impactful imagery and the PR contact to help build engagement. It will pay to think of the bigger picture when deciding who to appoint, and whether you need short-term tactics, long-term strategy, or most likely, both. Who would be the right person to oversee the bigger picture?
4. Which platforms are right for my brand and why?
More often than not, this question will need further research and knowledge of the brand, but any good social media consultant should soon start to match your brand strategy and target audience with the corresponding social channels where the audience are most likely to be based or receptive to engagement. This should include an evaluation as to why primary and secondary platforms have been selected, and for your consultant to not be sidetracked by the latest new social platform to launch which may not be right for your audience.
5. How will this help me reach my objective of x?
Once you've had that initial discussion of what you'd like to achieve and how well-planned social media strategy can help, you'll want to be asking how your consultant can help translate your investment into tangible results. Whether this looks like sales on your e-commerce store, email signups, brochure requests, appointment booking or factsheet downloads, you'll have commercial objectives and your consultant should be able to plan the bigger picture to help you meet them.
6. Do I need an ad budget for this and why?
Whilst organic (natural) likes, followers and shares are nice to have, and will help your page be seen by more people, unfortunately all of the main social media channels are now monetised and are driving businesses towards paying for reach to stand a chance of being seen. The good news is though that social budgets are still relatively modest, compared to other forms of advertising and acquisition. Although it depends on your business model, it's highly likely that success will be reliant in part to a social media advertising budget, which can be carefully planned, spent, reported upon and tracked.
7. What do we need to change about our approach?
The chances are, if you're seeking support, there's likely to be something that can be done better; in fact there often is with any campaign, as testing and iteration are often the best way to success. Ask for an independent social media review / audit and be prepared to discuss and listen to the recommendations. The benefit of appointing the right external consultant to deliver an audit for you is you'll gain the benefit of their experience across a range of clients historically, and will be able to recommend best practice and what can work much better for your business and to reach your goals.
8. How does this fit into the rest of my business and marketing plan?
Probably our number one question at Realise; this is something we'll be asking a client if they don't raise it early on. A good consultant will always enquire about the bigger picture; your business; and what you are looking to achieve. Noone should be satisfied with a few likes on Facebook and RT's on Twitter if they don't translate to growing your business or brand awareness in some way. Establishing business objectives, responsibilities and the synergy early on should be critical for any consultant-client relationship.
9. How will we track results and returns?
Linked to point 8 above, tracking results and returns (commercial or non-commercial) are equally important. Depending on your business type, we're likely to recommend pre, during and post campaign reports, as well as monthly reports and discussions. From our perspective there is little point in reporting data (which some do robot-fashion) if findings and recommendations are not taken into account, so for us recommendations and key actions are as an important part of the reporting process as the results themselves.
10. How will we generate cut-through?
It's a busy world out there in social media, with over 2 billion active social media accounts globally, it's a continual fight for your share of voice. You'll need to work with a consultant who can understand your brand's USP but also how to effectively translate that to attention-grabbing campaigns that activate engagement in that split second that your brand earns with the target audience.
This is just an example of some of the kinds of questions you could ask your new social media partner. It's important to note that it's unlikely that you can find all the various type of skillsets in one social media consultant, in the same way that you wouldn't employ a plumber for every household job you have! Having an open and frank discussion with your new contact from the start should help ensure you employ the right team to deliver the results you want.
Our door is always open for an informal discussion on your social media strategy and how it can help drive your business forward. Simply drop us a line on our contact page.