Skip to main content

How a Social Media Consultant Can Help Your New Marketing Strategy

Interest in social media marketing is surging, with several recent studies showing that a majority of companies, of all sizes, are now using social media in some form for business purposes. I've also seen dramatically increased interest in hiring social media consultants. But if most companies are already using social media in their marketing/PR mix, why is a consultant necessary? After all, isn't social media primarily about conversations? And aren't those conversations best engaged in by internal subject matter experts? And aren't the tools pretty easy to use?

While the answer to each of those last three questions is "yes," a knowledgeable outside adviser can nevertheless provide significant value, helping companies maximize the value of social media efforts while minimizing costs. If you're inside an organization on the hiring side, here's how a social media consultant can help your firm. If you're a consultant, here's what you have in your bag to sell.

According to MarketingSherpa's 2009 Social Media & PR Benchmark Guide (PDF), while 76% of marketing and PR professionals "agree" or "strongly agree" that social media marketing is changing the way their organizations communicate, the two most significant barriers cited to social media adoption were "lack of knowledgeable staff" and "inability to measure ROI." These are among the key benefits a consultant can provide:
  • Focus on using the right tools and prioritize efforts (i.e., don't talk in places where no one is listening);
  • Avoid false starts and do things right the first time (e.g., someone who's never set up a blog before is guaranteed to make mistakes, probably several; consultants aren't perfect, but can be expected to make far fewer);
  • Utilize proper tactics and etiquette for each type of media; and
  • Measure results to help optimize efforts.
More specifically, these are some of the services a social media consultant can offer:
  • Research—determine which venues are most important for a specific industry and company, and map out the key influencers in that space.
  • Strategy—help identify how social media fits with existing activities such as SEO, PR and event marketing.
  • Tactics—develop plans for media to be used, content needed, assign responsibilities, and core messaging/values to incorporate (e.g., Wal-Mart and Apple have very different corporate personalities; their social media activities should reflect that).
  • Setup—while social media and networking tools are designed to be easy enough for almost anyone to use, having a social media consultant create new profiles, and review existing ones, can help assure a consistent, professional presentation across various sites.
  • Monitoring—set up a monitoring system to track conversations about your company, competitors and key industry topics across social media sites, and the results of your social media marketing efforts, using either free tools or professional applications such as Radian6, Techrigy or TruCast.
  • Content production—content in the form of blog posts, white papers, reports, video, presentations, podcasts and images is a major component of social media marketing. A social media consultant may in many instances be able to supplement your internal resources to produce link-worthy material.
  • Content promotion—from social networking and social bookmarking to Twitter and blogs, social media tools offer myriad ways to promote your content. An experienced social media consultant can help you more fully exploit these opportunities.
  • Prioritization—participation in social media is time-consuming; you can't be everywhere and jump into every conversation. Through monitoring, mapping the key influencers in your space and an understanding of the social media landscape, a social media consultant can help you prioritize your efforts for maximum effect.
  • Outreach—social media offers powerful ways to communicate your messages to key influencers in your industry, who then spread that message and lend credibility to it. But outreach has to be done properly—it isn't just traditional PR using different tools—or it will fall flat (or worse, damage your reputation). A skilled social media consultant knows how to use various tools to maximize the effectiveness of outreach.
  • Updates—finally, the social media landscape is extremely dynamic. Some of the sites and tools viewed as highly promising just a couple of years ago have virtually disappeared, while others (e.g., Twitter) have come out of nowhere to rapidly gain large followings. Because they live and breathe social media on a daily basis, often for clients in a variety of industries, social media consultants are well-positioned to stay current on the latest trends and tools and apply this knowledge to help keep your social media efforts on track, productive and relevant.
In short, while any company can incorporate social media into its marketing and PR practices without any outside help, a knowledgeable social media consultant can help make those efforts more effective and efficient, while avoiding missteps and false starts. The ongoing, day-to-day effort will fall on your internal marketing and PR staff, executives and subject-matter experts (who can be just about anyone in your company), but a good consultant can assist in getting these efforts off to a productive start and help keep them on track.

*****


Contact Mike Bannan: mike@digitalrdm.com

Comments

Albert Maruggi said…
Good post, but I'd say two things

1)While I certainly can use the work, consultants don't have all the answers, ask Walmart, Motrin, - the social web is about reacting to the random so no hard and fast rules. Consultants do have plenty of experience, and the ones that realize true social media needs to be absorbed by companies to truly be successful.

2) and this speaks to point 1, I believe the missing component from most social media consulting is culture change management. If the the same corporate silos of information remain in tact, if company executives don't understand the transparency that is being demanded by the market, then social media will be the direct mail of the 21st century, just a bit cheaper and oh yeah greener.

see you tomorrow for a Marketing Edge podcast.
Tom Pick said…
Thanks Albert. Another service a social media consultant can provide: helping clients understand how their internal practices will have to change in order to benefit from social media.

I hope my post made clear that social media marketing, ultimately, can't be "done" by any one from the outside; a consultant can help get the ball rolling and put monitoring tools in place, but ultimately subject matter experts within the client organization have to take over the day-to-day participation in online conversations.

Without change, there's no hope. :-)

Popular posts from this blog

Digital Marketing for Law Firms, How Hard is it?

A lot of "verticals" or industries make sense for digital marketing and the whole process can be very easy and intuitive. For instance, if you are running a Search Engine Optimization company, it's very straightforward to content market:

1- Write blogs or articles about SEO
2- Try to answer questions people have about SEO
3- Optimize those blogs around what the questions are and what you are saying.



But what about an industry that is a lot more complicated and not very straight forward? What about marketing for lawyers?

ACE, one of Philadelphia's top Law Firm Marketing companies, just posted this extremely helpful blog about why SEO is important for Law Firms. It delves into exactly how to do the job for a complex industry like the law and its practitioners.

One of the key points in the entire article is: "If your customer journey does not have a use for search services, then you'll never see SEO campaign results."

We recommend reading the whole thing. …

Tip #3 to improve your digital marketing

Do Your Research You may have ideas for what is going to work best for your audience based on past experience with your ads, but taking the time to conduct thorough research and have data to support your actions is important. You may anticipate that your customers will behave a certain way, when in fact they go in a completely different direction. It’s essential to be prepared for this ahead of time and use the information you collect from research to planning your marketing strategy. Elliot Simmonds explains this concept below:

“ A lot of people use sponsored posts and other paid advertising, and it seems that many are happy to simply pay the money and watch the views and clicks roll in - even if some of those clicks are from individuals tangential to the product or service they're promoting. Most platforms allow you to specifically target your sponsored posts and ads, and my tip is to do so following a period (even if it's only a short period) of actual research. Your gut i…

Tip #2 to Improve your Digital Marketing

Spend Wisely Each platform used to market online provides you with a different value. You need to analyze which outlets you should invest more time and money into, and which ones are not as important. Some platforms that work well for one company, yield little to no results for another. You need to find the one that suits your business goals the best. Digital Marketing is all very specific to your brand, and you need to plan your budget accordingly. Determining what each platform is going to do for your specific advertising efforts should be the basis for the decisions you make with your campaigns, explains Hitesh Sahni, Marketing Consultant at Smemark:

“It’s imperative to understand the value each channel offers. Search advertising platforms, such as Google Adwords, work best when there is a clear demand for your product or service, and you want to target people who search for your product or service online. Search advertising is less effective for a startup that has created a new an…