Is Your Social Media Marketing ‘Expert’ a Phony? Five Ways to Tell.
For every marketer comfortable with social media, there are many more just dipping their toes in the social media marketing waters. And anytime we find such a “target rich environment,” there’s sure to be more than enough “experts” willing to offer their services. Often for big money.
With so many “talented” social media professionals to work with, how do you separate the cream-of-the-crop from those who are fudging their way through social media marketing? Here are five tell-tale signs that your social media marketing partners might not be as socially networked online as you thought:
1. They call themselves experts or “gurus.”
Even the most influential social media marketing insiders agree that no one is an expert in social media. Why? Because it’s simply impossible to know everything happening in a universe that is changing second by second. There are hundreds upon hundreds of social sharing sites, millions of blogs spanning every broad industry and niche you can think of, and a vast pool of consumers who may or may not be part of your target audience visiting these sites. And all of this is in flux at every given moment. So be wary of a social media marketing professional who alludes to the sentiment that they know it all.
2. The only social media tools they ever talk about are Twitter and Facebook.
If your so-called social media marketing expert can only name Twitter and Facebook when asked about specific sites, it’s a blazing red flag. You’re looking to work with someone who knows that there are a plethora of social networking communities on the Web (even if they can’t all be named at that moment) and that not all of these networks are going to be a fit for your brand. Click the “Share This” button on the bottom of this post, which lists hundreds of sharing sites, and you’ll get the (overwhelming) picture. Your social media marketing partner will need to roll up their sleeves and dig in alongside you to find the social media tools that make the most sense for your business’s objectives.
3. They throw around buzzwords but can’t explain what they mean.
SEO. Page rank. Link baiting. Bit.ly. Foursquare. Delicious. As the opposite of the Twitter/Facebook experts, these folks seem to be speaking a different language. But while it’s true that social media marketing has a unique vocabulary that could give Webster a run for its money, simply spitting out a bunch of terms doesn’t cut it. (P.S. If they say they’re on top of “tweetering,” run. Fast.)
4. They equate ROI with the number of Twitter followers and Facebook fans.
A large volume of fans and followers are great, but counting them as a sole metric on which to base ROI is a rookie mistake. First, that’s only taking into account metrics from one small piece of the larger social media marketing pie. Second, it’s unlikely that each fan is reading every single post or piece of content you put up, so your actual reach is smaller. But most importantly, your goal isn’t to win a popularity contest online; it’s about making meaningful connections with consumers (whether that be through branding or providing customer service) that will help fill your sales funnel with quantifiable leads and sales. Before even chirping one tweet, your social media marketing partner should sit down with you to establish a benchmark and define quantifiable metrics (Clicks? Sales? Fewer returns?) that fit in with the rest of your brand’s marketing mix.
5. They offer guarantees.
In life, the only guarantees are death and taxes, but there are no guarantees at all in social media marketing. While there’s a great likelihood a well-thought-out campaign or plan will drive traffic to your site or engage new prospects, there’s simply no way a social media marketing professional can guarantee specific results like bumping your website to a certain Google page rank. (In that instance, the dirty little secret is that while social media marketing professionals have an educated guess as to what will help bump page rank, Google doesn’t reveal its search indexing algorithms, which are changing all the time, so there’s no way to know the exact path for sure.) Establishing targets for tracking ROI are one thing. Guaranteeing you’ll hit them for sure is another.
Fortunately, most social media marketing professionals are talented individuals dedicated to growing your brand’s presence online, and these red flags are few and far between. That said, they do exist. Have you encountered any of these issues or others in your search for the perfect social media marketing partner? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo: Claudia Meyer