Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Social Media Consultant

Published: August 30, 2012 Author: Clearpoint Tags: Social Media Tips and Tricks Series

Once you make the decision to take advantage of the numerous benefits that social media has to offer, it is vital to work with someone who can steer your company in the right direction. Whether you plan to hire a social media agency or an individual consultant who will work solely for you, choose carefully. Due to the popularity of social media, many so-called experts are jumping on the bandwagon who may not have the skills, training, and abilities of a verifiable social media expert.

Here at Clearpoint, we find that most of our clients seek individuals with social media experience combined with proven abilities in content writing, SEO, and/or online marketing. We help them weed out the candidates with a weekend Facebook fancy from those with true skills in social media as part of their overall marketing expertise.

So if you're hiring for social media on your own, you'll need to ask the candidates a few questions to help weed out the less experienced and less talented consultants.

1. Ask about their experience. A social media consultant should have broad experience in handling different types of campaigns with a wide range of goals. Ask candidates to describe their favorite campaign and their least favorite campaign to get a better idea of how they quantify their own success.

2. Verify their skills. Ask candidates to supply you with the keywords that they've used to optimize their own social networking profiles, as well as those of a few of their clients. Search for their clients and see if their social media pages appear on the first page in Google's organic results. If their clients have active and integrated social media campaigns they will most likely appear on the first couple of pages on Google.  Ask to see writing samples from a variety of media including website content and social networking channels. A social media consultant with copywriting experience should be able to demonstrate the ability to fine tune content for different media.

3. Ask candidates about the tools they use for their social media efforts. Do they take advantage of social media management tools such as TweetDeck or HootSuite to better manage their social campaigns? Ask if the consultant has their own in-house tools that they've developed, or if they rely primarily on pre-built tools. You'll get a better idea of their capabilities once you know what tools they are using.

4. Ask about quantifying success. The ROI of social media is a hotly argued topic and measuring success is difficult. Ask the consultant for their definition of success with this type of marketing. If it matches your own definition, or the answer will help you meet your social media goals, the consultant might be a good hire for your company. Consultants who are vague or fall back on the old "It's too difficult to measure the ROI," deserve a pass. Top social media consultants use multiple programs to help them track and measure success including, TweetBurner and Google Analytics, especially if they also have SEO expertise.

5. Ask for their case studies. Ideally, a consultant should be able to supply you with at least three successful case studies from their past clients and they should be more than willing to give you this information. Quality case studies will include information about campaign outcomes and business results. Check the work and don't be shy about calling to get references.

6. Ask candidates how they solve problems for their clients. One of the key abilities in a social media consultant is being able to quickly come up with solutions to problems. They need to be able to think on their feet. Ask them about their own personal philosophy for coming up with solutions and how they develop a strategy to handle potential issues in a campaign.

Do you have questions about using the power of social media for your company? Let the experts from Clearpoint help you define your vision and find the best way to implement it.

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