The vetting process for bringing onboard a social media marketing consultant or employee can be daunting, to say the least.
You're bound to run into a range of vastly different backgrounds and qualifications. Indeed, you may already have encountered some of the following:
The Opportunists. These are people who have no marketing background whatsoever but have identified social media marketing as a lucrative business opportunity.
Watch out for the type who has hung up a social media shingle simply to capitalize on the trend of the month. They may speak the lingo but may not be able to back it up with solid work that they're able to show you. In fact, the Opportunist may possibly make a great worker, so look carefully before dismissing all of them out of hand. If you have a strong strategist in place, a supportive role could be the right fit.
The Established. Here we find online marketers who have added social media marketing to their skillset over the last few years.
A better bet is someone who has a number of years of marketing experience, especially online marketing, under their belt and who has honed and adapted their skills over the years to address the changed marketing landscape. Look for a solid track record of work that you can review online, and equally important, a list of happy clients that you are welcome to contact.
The Influencers. Individuals who position themselves as being at the forefront of the social media industry are another category to be on the lookout for.
Influencers flaunt their Klout scores and try to correlate their popularity with your business success. Although dazzling, the Influencer may not necessarily be the right person to serve as your new marketer if she winds up spending most of her time working on maintaining her own level of influence. If she has set up a business hiring others to do the work for you, just know what -- and whose time -- you'd actually be buying.
Don't expect to be dazzled by huge numbers and flashy campaigns. Social media marketing is not about the hoopla but rather long-term communications, relationship building, responsiveness, and creativity with a strong focus on goals and outcomes. Work with people who take thoughtful and sensible approaches to marketing and communications.
While Influencers are not necessarily great candidates for your new position, you can still work with them in smart ways, particularly if they are able to reach the exact audience you're trying to reach. Hire them to be a spokesperson for your brand and develop a smart campaign around them, one that is transparent to the public.
Before embarking on this type of relationship though, make sure that your candidate's image is in line with that of your brand. And make sure you have a qualified social media marketer in place to help put a strategy around this relationship.
The Specializer. There are pros and cons to bringing someone on board who knows social media marketing and also knows your industry or marketplace well. On the pro side, they can hit the ground running, developing strong strategies without having to learn your industry as an outsider would.
On the other hand, they may be so focused on your industry that they're unable to think outside of the proverbial box or adapt good ideas from other industries. They may also be working with your competitors, sometimes an unavoidable aspect of specializing.
Still, a specializer with integrity applies their industry-specific knowledge to benefit all of their clients and knows the importance of keeping client confidentiality.
Figure that any savvy marketer will be able to get up to speed on your industry -- that's what marketers have been doing for years. Specializing is just a way to differentiate a marketer's business, not necessarily a sign that they're a great marketer.
There are many other types of social media marketers with different backgrounds, experiences, and abilities. Work with people who take thoughtful and sensible approaches to marketing and communications. Beware of the hucksters and the hype-mongers. Make a long-term commitment to integrating social media into your communications mix and bring on board people who are willing to make that same commitment to strategy, quality, and longevity.