Developing a Digital Strategy 010 – 6 Questions to ask a Social Media Expert before employing them
How do you chose a social media expert (dreadful phrase) from the gazillion stalking the interweb and how do you see past the smoke and mirrors and know if they can deliver? Here are some practical questions and tips.
1. What is your social media track record? How long have you being doing it?
Checking someone’s social media track record is fairly easy to do: social networking is public and if they are good they will be visble on key social networks. Ask them to show you where they are. When you are looking at what they are doing remember that their focus should be specific to your area.
2. What social networking sites are you active on?
There are a few key sites you would expect to be mentioned along with tailored sites. For example in the health/medical area I would expect sites such as medpedia, Scienceblogs, research blogging, journal websites, specific individual blogs to come up (not just the general ‘mashable, boingboing sites). If you are in the health field the Top Web 2.0 Services in Medicine 2010 is an excellent overview of some key sites – a small snapshot given here:
Twitter – check their twitter bio and website url (if they don’t have a url in their bio, cut your losses and run – it’s a quick way of finding out who someone is and mandatory on twitter if you expect followers), at the very least you would expect a LinkedIn url there.
LinkedIn – The ‘professional facebook’ – it lists career and education history and what they are currently into.
Facebook – If they prefer to have private facebook profile fair enough, but do they know how to set up a public facebook page for you?
Blog – I would argue that any social media ‘expert’ would have a site they regularly post on, not least because it’s visbile, easy to measure and rate someone.
3. Which social bookmarking sites do you use?
This tests whether they know what social bookmarking is (a way of book marking websites and sharing them with others). Generic ones such as delicious, diigo or industry specific – eg Connotea or CiteULike for medical/research sites.
4. How do you keep up-to-date?
You want to be listening out for mentions of RSS feeds – because this is a way of keeping up-to-date with posts and articles as they come out, google reader, feedly, pageflakes, aggregators like science blogs/research blogging anything that is a daily place that is visited to see what is happening online.
5. How do you measure your success?
Twitter – don’t be taken in by number of followers (you can get hundreds if not thousands in 24 hours, they aren’t real) check the number of tweets (shows how active they are), followers to following ratio – they might be following 1500 people and only have 700 followers. This in itself should tell you something is amiss. Look for quality not quantity. How long have they been tweeting, and what have they been tweeting about – have a look or get them to show you. Also check them out on Twittergrader or similar sites.
Who are they following? Is it related to your area? In health, my twitter page has a mixture of medical, health professional as well as Sydneysiders that I interact with in the social media scene.
Facebook page – How often do they post, how often do they interact?
Here is a page I recently set up. It’s very early days, and the page stats help me monitor how it’s doing (only administrators of a page can see the stats – but you can ask to see them)
LinkedIn – Check out their groups – are they part of groups specific to your industry. Are they active, have they answered questions, discussions. What aps have they got on their profile (tripit, slideshare, blog rss feed….).
Social bookmarking – Again, easy to see what they have bookmarked, how regularly and which sites.
Blog . Do they have a site – what are the rankings, how do they use it. – They might say they have a world renown following -don’t take their word for it, check them out on alexa.com or sites that are similar:
There are different sites you can use to measure the success of a site (and it is all relative and to be taken with a pinch of salt) – Alexa.com is one, giving you the rankings and reach. The site doesn’t have to be the best in the world, but it does have to rate well against similar well-regarded sites. Go on have a go, you know there a couple of sites you’ve always wondered about how they rate…
Also, consider is their site interactive, engaging, where are they on the social networks if you google them? If you can’t find them on google rankings how are they going to help promote you in your business? A social media expert without a blog is questionable. Blogging takes time, consistency, interaction with others, and it’s easy to see if they are connected into different networks. It will also enable you to see how long they have been going.
6. Who are your previous clients and references?
This will probably be listed on their blog/website. Ask them to go through what they did for a specific client and how they measured their success.
Before you start looking – what is your time frame and how will you operate?
- Kick start the social media process for 3 months for you to take over?
- On a retainer to work on the social media for your site over the next year?
- Regular coaching sessions to train you in the use of social media over a fixed term?
- Full time employee focussing on social media and digital strategy?
Decide what would suit you best before you start scouting around, for example:
- I have been hired on a retainer to work on a health site (taken because I am particularly interested in what they do),
- I give weekly coaching sessions to clients overseas on Skype,
- as well as giving one stop shop formal presentations on next steps to take as and when a client is ready.
There is no hard and fast rule as to what suits you and your set up. DO set measurable goals and review times so that you can decide whether to continue or whether you are ready to take on the digital strategy for yourself.