Back in 2006, when I was in the process of selling the hosting business, I talked with a friend about working with her as a consultant. I knew what I wanted to do – I wanted to help people get their brands online and generate buzz from the community. I didn’t realize though that this was an emerging trend at the time of Social Media Consultants – I just thought it was a cool idea. I didn’t do it at the time because all of the sudden I was going through all the challenges of setting up a wedding photography business – and getting a workflow really flowing is hard, no matter how prepared you think you are.
To be honest, I still think it is a cool idea when you dig down to the core concept behind it. The problem is that there are so many people out there that will tell you that you can hire them as a Social Media Consultant … so they can tell you to start a blog, get on Twitter, and place some ads on Facebook.
That isn’t what Social Media is about. Well not the bulk of it. And they are turning it into a trendy buzz word. The flaw is in so much bad advice out there, be touted by people that don’t know much.
Social media is about getting people to talk about you. It is no different then marketing before the latest buzz term came along. You have a product, and you want people to know about it. You then find any avenue possible — and preferably narrow your target down to the best possible paths to follow — and start to get the word out. Same package, new label.
The key? You have to engage with the community.
And in this day and age, where transparency is becoming more and more important, it should be *you* doing the engaging if you’re a small business. It isn’t something you can really hire someone else to do for you – your tweets should come from you. Especially in the case of creatives. We’re marketing the experience of working with US. It is a very specific experience. It is what makes you unique, and it is what sells you.
There are fabulous Social Media Consultants out there, and they can definitely help you hone what you’re doing so it is excellent. But before you hire them, maybe just try going out there and being nice? Building relationships? Making friends? I love the internet because I can become friends with someone in London and someone just a mile down the road. It flattens everything – take advantage of that! Genuinely connect with people – you’ll be amazed at what happens!
Then if you need help building a campaign, go for it! Use these 10 tips for evaluating a social media expert as a good place to start to make sure you’re getting the right one! (I really love this article because it is so true!)