The number of “self-taught” social media gurus seems to be growing wildly. They pass themselves off as experts, but are untrained in media strategy, have no background in marketing tactics or social media management, and they have no education in behavioral strategies.
Now, emboldened by a plethora of platforms to promote themselves, they’re stepping out from the shadows to charge your company boatloads and bring you mediocre results.
I’ve seen theses individuals stream out of the woodwork over the past year at a much higher rate than previous years, and it’s time for you to know how to spot them from a mile away. (And if you’re a quality social media manager / contractor, you need to pass on a version of this information to the clients you’re contending for as well.)
Here are three ways to uncover the facts when scanning the boards for a contractor
Reach, Impressions, and Engagement!
Wow! Who wouldn’t want all of those metrics with green arrows next to them? The problem is this is the main pitch of untrained social media contractors. There’s no talk of strategic targeting (without ads), brand ROI, competitor channel research, audience nurturing, posting best practices and so on. Here are some phrases to watch out for:
- “I’ll triple your post frequency”
- “I’ll get you on more social channels”
- “I’ll double your impressions”
- “I’ll grow your engagement percentage”
These are huge red flags, because the only benefit you may be getting is more eyeballs. How do you know the right audience is being targeted? How do you know which engagement metrics are being tracked? How do you know which social channels are best for you?
So, what do you do?
You should definitely have your social media contractor lay out an audience targeting plan and tell you exactly what metrics he/she is tracking and why those are being tracked over others. Whether it’s in an app, and online tool or even an Excel doc; demand to see it so you can know what is being targeted, tracked and why.
More followers means we’re winning!
I’ve harped on this before in previous blogs, so I won’t spend too much time on it here. One of the core battle cries of this new influx of contractors is “I’ll grow your following by X% in X time frame!”
This is a crap statement, and can easily be fulfilled with small payments for junk followers that have no interest in you or your brand.
So, what do you do?
When contractors bring up followers, The first two questions out of your mouth should be, “what kind of followers are you trying to attract?” and “How will you ensure it’s the audience best suited for my product/service?” The lazy contractor will hem and haw at these questions, while the well-trained social media manager will reveal some of follower research she has done and the strategy she plans to employ. And even though you may not understand all the ins and outs of the strategy, it should make sense to you. You should never walk away from a conversation like that thinking “oh well, I guess she understands what she’s doing, but that’s beyond me.”
Social is only for awareness, you have to pay for web traffic
The rising wave of new contractors love to talk about engagement metrics like general clicks, likes, and shares, but if you begin rooting around for a website analytics strategy, you’ll get an earful about ad campaigns and big budgets.
Don’t buy into it. Literally.
I have one client that’s pulling nearly 6% of its traffic from social channels (that’s more than double their industry average), with nearly no money spent on ads. Why? The audience has been nurtured, the content has been planned carefully, and the followers’ preferences are understood so that the content reflects those preferences.
Are paid social ad campaigns bad? Of course not. You should have a contractor who knows how to run highly targeted campaigns that get your message/product/service to your specialized audience. However, he should also have additional ways outside of paying an arm and a leg to drive traffic to your site. Does he know which content is resonating most with your followers? Is he linking that content to key pages? Is he helping you think through how to diversify your content strategy to attract engagement (videos, blogs, webinars, etc)? These are just a few non-paid ways to get followers to click through to your site and investigate more.
Ultimately, while social media is an awareness tool, conversions on your website are what you’re really after. The novice-pretending-to-be-an-expert contractor will have little to no idea about this. He will also know nothing about what metrics to track within Google Analytics / Search Console to determine if your social media efforts are truly driving the right people to your site. You’ll hear lots of talk about pageviews, but deeper, more meaningful metrics will be completely ignored.
So, what do you do?
To expose this, you need only to ask a contractor what kind of analytics he plans to track both in the social media platforms and on your website – he needs to be able to clearly explain how he’s setting up and tracking conversions to bring you the best benefit. If, instead, all you hear is talk of paid campaign after paid campaign, you’ve run headlong into a novice and need to break off the relationship immediately.
There’s so much more I could add here. Social listening strategies, employee social media strategies, content aggregation for company thought leaders to gain more awareness, and much, much more.
But the bottom line is this. Talking to someone who promotes themselves as a social media guru is not enough. Ask the tough questions, get a clear understanding of objectives, make sure goals that you care about are set in stone. Do this, and you’ll be on your way to quality relationship with a star social media expert.