No matter which industry you’re in or what your goals are, you have probably given some thought to which social media marketing channels are the best for your business.

Perhaps you even gave a couple of channels a try, but didn’t get the expected results.

I’m sure you’ve heard all about those social media wizards who can create something out of nothing and now you are wondering where to find them.

Here’s the kicker, though: not all of them are real social media experts and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are experts when it comes to using social media for your business.

In this article, I will write about five actionable steps that you can use immediately in order to find the best social media marketing consultant for you business and achieve your desired goals.

1) Things You Should Do Before Starting Your Search for a Social Media Marketing Consultant

1. Define Your Social Media Marketing Goals

Chart with social media marketing goals

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Before you approach anyone about their consulting services, think carefully about your goals.

You need to have a clear picture in your head about why you want help with social media. Remember—joining Facebook or Instagram just because they’re popular is not a good idea.

Possible goals for a social media marketing program include increasing conversions, driving website traffic, growing direct engagement with your audience, increasing brand awareness, retaining customers, reducing marketing costs, etc.

What you also need to do is set S.M.A.R.T. goals—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

An example of a specific marketing goal is increasing leads on your website by 40% in five months.

2. Think About Your Industry

How industries use social media channels

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Every industry, every type of product/service, has its dominant social media channels.

The type of people interacting with your brand and using your products/services may differ a lot depending on your business focus—B2B or B2C.

For example, LinkedIn is used primarily for business networking, job searches and highly-focused B2B advertising.

Facebook and Instagram are more personal and consumer-focused.

Twitter, on the other hand, is ideal for companies that want to emphasize their customer service, e.g. Uber, Lyft, various airlines, and restaurants. Why? Because it lets you respond to customer’s questions, criticism and praise quickly and instantly.

3. Think About Your Target Audience

Who is your audience? Where is your audience? How does your audience consume content?

Identifying your target audience and discovering where they spend most of their time online is the key to selecting the right social media channels for you.

Buyer personas can help you define and target the right people, in the right places, at the right time, with the right messages.

Create a buyer persona

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If you’ve created buyer personas for your customers, and you know general information about their age, gender, income level, occupation, problems and so on, you can now line up these insights with the demographic data of social networks and see which networks are the best fit for you.

What else?

Explore what kind of content your target audience consumes the most.

Some social media channels support different types of content better than other networks.

For example, long-form, research-driven articles may appeal to LinkedIn users who seek to learn about a certain industry or improve their professional skills. Meanwhile, an image may gain more traction on Instagram than Snapchat, where it will disappear in 10 seconds or less.

For general insights, you can check top 15 most popular social networking sites in March 2017.

4. Research Your Competition

Investigate your competitors and find out which social networks they’re using. It will give you a general idea about what works and later on, you can use those successful tactics to your advantage.

Don’t be afraid to base your work on tried-and-tested strategies.

You can also analyze your competition’s content strategy. Look at their number of fans or followers, posting frequency, and at which time of the day they usually publish their posts.

Again, take notice of the type of content they post, how they interact with their fans, and what their engagement rate is like. The more likes and shares you get, the more active the audience, and an active audience has more potential for earning.

5. Define Your Budget

Make a list of the tools you need (e.g. email marketing), services you’ll outsource (e.g. graphic design, video production, social media marketing consultant) and any advertising you’re planning to purchase.

Use Google to check how much all of this costs.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: you need to spend money to make money.

A survey by the Duke School of Business found that the average marketing department allocates 13% of their budget for social media and that number is expected to increase to 21% by 2019.

Meanwhile, an analysis by the Content Factory reveals that the average business spends between $4,000 and $7,000 a month on social marketing—that’s $200 to $350 a day. If that sounds steep to you, that’s because it actually is.

Naturally, there are cheaper options you can take into consideration. For example, you can hire freelancer from a foreign country and reduce the cost of services.

2) What Do You Need a Social Media Marketing Consultant for?

At what stage are you with social media? Do you need a full-service consultant or can you do something in-house? Do you know what an SMMC can do for you? What do you need an SMMC for?

If you are still unsure about your answers to these questions, let’s first take a look at the list of things an SMMC should know.

An SMMC should know how to:

  • Make a social media marketing strategy
  • Choose the best social media channels for your business
  • Manage pages on social networks (generally, seven to 10 tweets, and two to three Facebook and Instagram posts a day—but it can vary depending on your business, audience, etc.)
  • Create and adapt unique, compelling content on a daily basis, for different channels
  • Tell a story and make it fascinating
  • Write and edit multiple blog posts
  • Communicate with your audience and solve their problems
  • Gain relevant followers and bring more customers
  • Build a trusted community
  • Manage campaigns on varied SM channels
  • Create Lookalike Audiences and Custom Audiences
  • Increase your search visibility
  • Increase your brand awareness and brand loyalty
  • Generate leads and sales from social media
  • Do analysis, measure growth and interpret data

And so much more.

Tasks of a social media manager

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As you can see, there’s more to social media than just setting up a profile and publishing a couple of tweets or posts. You need to be familiar with an endless and ever-changing list of skills, tools and best practices in order to consistently have a ROI.

If you don’t know how to do some of the things on the list above, don’t worry—at least now you have a general idea about what an SMMC should know. Plus, this list can also help you define a job description for a new hire.

Besides, when you create your own list of requirements for an SMMC, you will understand exactly where your money is going to be spent, so you can track the progress.

At this point, you are probably wondering how much this will cost you.

The shortest and easiest answer to this question is: it varies—a lot.

It depends on the experience level of the social media consultant you hire, the size of your business, the suite of services you require (the full service or partial), how many social media profiles you want to manage, and a number of other factors. You can see here how much money you need to set aside, depending on the services you want.

Bear in mind that you will have two types of costs:

  1.    For social media marketing consultant services.
  2.    For campaigns which you pay directly to social media channels (FB, Ln, etc.)—organic social media marketing is not enough, seeing that the competition is immense.

As is the case with other aspects of your business and life, the biggest factor that can hold you back is your budget. Mull it over and then set a limit—this will help you shortlist the candidates you’re considering for the job.

3) What Kind of a Person Should an SMMC Be and Where to Find Them

It’s a common misconception that anyone who understands the basics of social media tools and major networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc.) has to be a social media expert.

The truth is that not everyone can do social media. Beware of the professional social media expert pretenders and make sure to check their references and client history. Don’t hire just anyone—social media needs to be directed by someone with real experience and references.

Try not to search for big names in online networking. Find individuals who aren’t focused solely on their own image and who can adjust their voice and tone to yours.

Your social media consultant needs to learn everything about your company/products/services and has to be passionate about monitoring your social brand, driving engagement, spotting media opportunities, sales opportunities, and providing excellent social customer care.

Here’s a list of additional skills that an SMMC should possess:

  • Strong and professional communication skills
  • Strong presentation skills
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Customer service skills
  • PR skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Decision-making skills
  • Sales skills
  • Copywriting skills
  • Design skills
  • Photography skills
  • Videography skills
  • SEO skills

Remember, someone’s personality is just as important as their skills set. While having experience in a certain industry or at a required position is always desirable, keep in mind that skills can be acquired, while a great personality cannot.

Here’s what your SMMC should be like:

  • Able to get acquainted with new technology quickly
  • Hungry for information
  • Curious
  • Creative
  • Empathetic
  • Resourceful
  • Adaptable
  • Calm
  • Passionate
  • Patient

Now you know what type of a person you are looking for, but where are you supposed to find them?

Maybe the best way to find a social media marketing consultant is via referral. Search and join some social media marketing groups on Facebook and ask people for a recommendation.

Obviously, you can use Google or places such as LinkedIn, Reddit or Quora to ask Internet users for suggestions.

Check out Social Media Marketing World, MozCon, SearchLove, and INBOUND.

Look through Hootsuite’s Certified Social Media Consultants Directory and 11 Best Social Media Consultants for Hire In March 2017.

Take a look at niche networks such as Clutch, where you can research and review some of the top development, design and marketing companies.

Try putting a job listing up on MediaBistro, too.

For example, Thumbtack can connect you with different social media agencies and professionals in your area.

You can also attend local social media networking events to connect with people who can help or who know someone who can.

Consider what type of an employee you need and define the skills you want this person to possess. After that, you can write and place your ad.

4) What Questions Should You Ask During the Interview?

Here are some questions that will help you choose the best social media marketing consultant for your business.

  • How long ago did you start using social media and why?
  • How active are you on social media and how many people are you connected with?
  • Which social media campaigns have you created and/or managed?
  • Which social media platforms are you best at using and why?
  • How much SEO knowledge and experience do you have?
  • Do you blog?
  • How would you allocate a given budget for social media advertising?
  • What are some of your measurable results from using social media?
  • Do you have any experience in our industry or with a similar business model?
  • Which marketing strategies do you plan to use to generate leads?
  • Which analytics platforms do you use to measure results? How do you measure ROI?
  • Which social media networks do you believe will bring us the most success?
  • What is a Custom Audience? Custom Audiences is a powerful new tool which allows you to create lists of people you want to target with Facebook ads, based on a list of email addresses, unique Facebook IDs or phone numbers.
  • What is a Lookalike Audience? Lookalike Audiences is a way to reach new people who are likely to be interested in your business, because they’re similar to people who already are.
  • What is the Facebook Pixel used for? For retargeting website visitors.
  • Can you give me an example of a report that you’ve sent to another client?
  • Do you have experience with anything other than social media?

Pay close attention to their body language and ability to actually answer your questions. Do they sound passionate? Do they have a vision?

Let the candidate interview you—you shouldn’t be the only one with questions. Try to gauge how interested a candidate is in working for your organization by the types of questions that they ask you.

Finally, ask them to tell you a story—if your candidate has the ability to tell a compelling story, that will give you a huge advantage in all levels of social media and content marketing.

When you pick your top candidates, you can also ask them to do some homework. Give them a scenario that includes the process involved in selling a product or promoting an initiative, and ask them to create a one-page content marketing strategy brief. This is a great way to determine whether an applicant is serious about the position.

By this point, you should have a good idea of which candidate you want to join your team.

5) What Comes Next?

Define and set goals and expectations for your new hire.

Consultants may tell you that social investments can’t be justified in a quantifiable way. Wrong. The data is out there.

Don’t obsess over how many followers you have—consultants like to play at that. Facebook ads and “Like this page” contests often don’t boost consumer engagement. Instead of that, you should be courting influencers—trusted insiders with engaged followers (such as niche celebrities, bloggers or active tweeters), who can help spread your message.

Social media should be seen as an investment and you need to dedicate substantial funds to your efforts. A great social media strategy includes paid reach—these days, you have to pay to play.

The digital world is not so black and white. Your consultant could easily start with one marketing approach and if that doesn’t work, go in a different direction.

The most important thing to remember is that social media takes time. It takes time for a social media strategy to take hold and bring in results. Don’t be impatient—however, if you aren’t satisfied with the results after five months, you should consider changing your consultant.

Social media infographic

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Finding the right person to hire is not as easy as it may seem.

Take your time to go thoroughly through all the steps listed above.

Do a detailed analysis of your goals, target audience, competition etc. to get a better insight into which social media channels works the best for you. After that, define which services you need from an SMMC and think about the type of skills and personality they should possess. Explore listed channels to find the best person for your team and prepare questions for the selected candidates. Finally, set goals and expectations for your new hire, and measure results.

I hope that all of these suggestions will help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

If you have something to add, feel free to leave a comment below.

Good luck!