Have you noticed that it seems like everyone is talking about social media these days? Everywhere you turn someone is telling you what to do with your social media and often they are saying you need to hire an “expert”. Everyone has an opinion on the right or wrong way to manage your social media efforts and who you should hire to handle it. There are blog posts galore on why and how to hire a social media expert. But what about how and why not to?
Here’s just 5 reasons how and why NOT to hire a social media “expert”
1. All they talk about is why they are the “expert”
“An expert knows all the answers - if you ask the right questions.” - Levi Strauss
Real experts may have the word in their bio but rarely will you find a real “expert” using the word to describe themselves. If you are going to hire someone - find the person that other people call an “expert”. Ask around, especially in your industry and your local community. You will likely get some great recommendations of people others have worked with who have gotten them real, measurable results.
2. You can’t afford it
This one should be common sense, but when a business owner is bombarded with all of the reasons they HAVE to hire a social media expert, it is easy to ignore that voice in your head saying you really can’t afford it. No business should ever stretch themselves too thin hiring a social media expert that they can’t realistically afford.
Don’t let the flood of information distract you. Take the first step you would take with any other investment in your business - figure out what you can afford. Then find someone who is knowledgeable about social media and can work within your budget. See the tip above about asking around in your industry and community. Just remember, like anything meant to help grow your business, social media will require an investment of money, time and effort. Make sure the plan your social media expert gives you takes any potential limitations in all of those areas into consideration. They may be the subject matter expert, but they should be working with you to develop a plan that fits your business’ needs.
3. You don’t know why you are hiring them
If you can’t clearly articulate what you expect to achieve from hiring a social media expert, you shouldn’t hire one. Are you hiring them to develop a social media plan that will drive sales or improve customer service or aid with lead generation or build brand awareness or a mix of those or something else? You may need their help to fill in specific details, after all they are the experts, but you need to have a set of definitive objectives that justify why you are hiring an expert. Any kind of expert.
"Make sure the plan your social media expert gives you takes any potential limitations in all of those areas into consideration."
4. You can’t figure out how they they will fit into your current workflow, or worse yet, they can’t help you figure it out
Just like knowing whether or not you can afford them and why you are hiring them, you need to have a good understanding of how a social media expert, and the plan they will provide, fit into your organization. Whether it is a new position you are adding to your company, a consultant on a short term project to write you a self-implementable strategy or an agency working on a long term contract, you need to have an overall idea of how their efforts fit not only into your marketing strategy but into your overall business strategy. Again, they are the experts, they can help you fill in the details, but you are the business owner and should have the overall vision and the knowledge of your business to know how to adapt it to include the needed extra steps in your workflow.
5. You still really need to figure out what you are selling or what audience you need to attract
If you aren’t very clear on what you are selling or what audience you are trying to reach, the best social media expert is not going to be able to help you. Don’t waste your money hiring one. If you don’t have a clearly defined product, a near perfect elevator pitch and a definitive idea of your target market, you have much bigger problems to tackle than whether or not you have a good looking LinkedIn Company page or a bunch of views on YouTube. Too many startups and small business owners put the cart before the horse. They make setting up their Twitter account and building their email list a priority before actually writing a business or marketing strategy. Hey, more attention is good attention. Right? Wrong! Start talking about nothing and no one is going to pay attention. That doesn’t mean you can’t tell your story as you are growing. You should. It means that you need to know what story you are trying to tell. Social media can be a very helpful part of your business, sales or marketing strategy, but you don’t start with social media, you start with a solid plan.
There are probably as many reasons why and how not to hire a social media expert as there are reasons why you should and the best way to do it. Want to know the real secret? Know your business, know what you are trying to achieve, know why you are trying to achieve it and use a little common sense.
With over 30 years of successful business operations, communications and entrepreneurial experience, Gloria Bell specializes in helping companies evaluate and maximize their digital footprint, develop their digital strategy and cultivate an effective social media presence. Her current consulting focuses on assisting companies to truly maximize the effectiveness of their digital presence by analyzing and evaluating business processes to ensure that no gaps exist that would hinder meeting the goals and objectives their social media presence seeks to fulfill.
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