With millions of people using social media on a daily basis, there is virtually no limit to how many people think they are credible social media marketing experts. Some of these do possess the insight, creativity and willingness for hard work that are essential for a social media marketing consultant, but the vast majority are rank amateurs. For many business owners who want to harness the power of social networks like Facebook, YouTube of LinkedIn to promote their company, it is easy to buy into the song and dance of a social media management agency. However, you should be critical in your approach to hiring an agency. Signs of Past SuccessThe first sign that a social media marketing firm is less than effective is a thin portfolio. Successful firms can produce a number of past campaigns that not only produced a profusion of Likes and Followers, but also generated leads for their clients. A telling sign is that these followers were actually engaged on these sites, and over a sustained period of time. Carefully examine their portfolio and make sure that each campaign was unique and had proven results. Dig deeper than social response statistics (some firms beef up their numbers by hiring followers). If you need to, contact the clients directly to learn what their experience was really like. Demand TransparencyMany agencies will fail to engage their clients during a social media campaign’s design and implementation, but the top social media marketing companies are not afraid to include clients in these processes. Some firms fear that poor results could sour the relationship, so they try to keep you in the dark, providing only a partial picture of the campaign. Others, however, may have difficulty creating an innovative social media marketing strategy, so they use a template from past clients. When you are shopping for a social media publicist, make sure that they are transparent with you. Explain that you need to be included in the strategy formulation and execution to ensure that your vision is maintained. If they put unreasonable limitations on your access, keep shopping. Avoid Wild PromisesThere are plenty of social media marketing firms that are so eager for your patronage that they will make wildly implausible claims like 10,000 followers in six months or first page ranking. If you are unsure whether any promises sound impossible, ask previous clients if they actually followed through and reached these milestones. In most cases, they will make such ridiculous promises up front, and then give you excuses later on. Firms that are reliable will hold off on making promises until they analyze your current business model, products and market conditions. Then, they will provide more realistic goals which are attainable with an effective social media strategy. If you still have some concerns about a firm’s capabilities, then structure the contract with milestone payouts, and if they fail to meet your expectations, look for a new team to handle your marketing needs.
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