This post is a bad career move for me.
Because I’m a social media consultant who’s about to tell you why you may not need one.
But too many companies waste money on social agencies and “experts” who don’t give them their money’s worth, so I’d like to help you avoid that.
Here are a few things to consider before you somebody to help you with social media.
1. Social media isn’t a goal. It’s a tactic used to achieve other goals.
There’s a LOT of hype around social media and it’s easy to convince yourself you need to conquer it to succeed.
It’s tempting to compare your followers, Likes, views, and “engagement” to your competitors and believe you’re failing at social media.
But your actual goal is not social media success —it’s to sell a product, create an opportunity, or further a cause.
Social media is just a tactic you can use to help achieve that goal.
The point of a strong social media strategy is to accomplish a real goal, not to just be “good” at social media.
So if you hire somebody to help you with social media, make sure they can explain how their strategy will help you accomplish your actual goals and not improve your social metrics.
Speaking of which…
2. Social media metrics don’t matter.
Once you recognize that social media itself isn’t a goal, you’ll discover the metrics used to measure social media success are often misleading.
If your goal is to sell more widgets, then it’s not your Facebook engagement that matters — it’s how many widgets you sell.
Some social metrics may correlate to the metrics that actually matter, but often they don’t.
You can triple your Twitter following, but if those followers don’t buy your widget, then who cares?
That’s not a social media success story, but too often it’s presented like it is.
3. Don’t overpay for management and underpay for strategy.
I recently saw a social media agency’s proposal to manage a celebrity’s social presence.
It was a fancy deck, filled with detailed plans about what types of content they would post, the frequency on each platform, and even how they would do monthly photo shoots to ensure they had fresh content for each of the platforms.
You know what wasn’t in the proposal?
Any explanation of the creative approach to the content, how it would help the celebrity accomplish a goal (beyond just attracting more followers), who the target audience would be, and how this investment in social media would further the celebrity’s career.
The proposal lacked any real strategic vision. This isn’t uncommon.
The majority of social experts are so focused on “management,” that they miss the more important overall strategy.
Here’s the thing — it’s not that hard to post on social platforms (no matter how an agency tries to make it seem complicated). What’s hard is to develop a strategy that uses social media to accomplish your actual goals.
In most cases, you’re paying for management when what you need is strategy.
4. Non-social media experience is as important as social experience.
The social media expert you hire needs to be more than just a social media expert.
Since the strategy piece is more crucial than the management piece, you need to find somebody who understands your industry as well as they do social platforms.
Just because a social media expert knows the latest Snapchat tricks doesn’t mean they understand how your industry works and what your customers are looking for.
And the latter is just as important — maybe more so — than the former.
The person you hire to help you with social media can only be as good as their understanding of your unique industry.
5. Social media is an amplifier. It’s not magic.
If your product, service, or creation doesn’t provide actual value, the best social media strategist in the world won’t be able to help you.
Social media’s not a shortcut to success — it’s just a way to amplify things that deserve amplification.
So if you hire somebody to help you with it, you better make sure the thing you give them to amplify is worth it.
6. A social strategy without a conversion strategy is meaningless.
Social media is an entry point. It’s the beginning — or continuation — of a conversation with your customer.
But that conversation has to ultimately lead somewhere. To a purchase or an action. To a conversion.
A social media strategy that doesn’t include a conversion strategy is a beginning without an end.
The greatest beginning in the world is meaningless if it doesn’t lead to anything.
So make sure you hire somebody who can not only tell you how to attract attention for your creation, but also has a plan to convert that attention into action.
One more thing…
It may not seem like it from this post, but I believe social media is an incredibly valuable tool if used the right way.
If what I’ve said above resonates with you and you’d like some suggestions on how you can use social media to achieve your specific goals, let me know.