Social Media is an emerging field and is evolving at a rapid pace. There are many small businesses eager to jump on the social media train, but don’t have the resources, knowledge, or time needed to tackle the marketing efforts. Social and online marketing typically have little to no cost of entry. As a result, these conditions have created a window of opportunity for anyone to present as a “social media expert”. 

Unfortunately, there lies that are passed by supposed experts. Here are the two most significant and common: 

Lie #1 – Expert Of All Aspects Of Social Media Marketing 

He/she proclaims to offer services around Social Media Marketing (Facebook, Twitter, Location-Based Services (LBS), YouTube), Online Advertising, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Web Design, Web Development and can rotate your tires while they’re at it. 

[quote style="1"]Jack of all trades, master of none[/quote]

In almost, all cases the person is either over confident or simply delusional. The service provider is hoping to cast as a wide of net as possible in hopes that your opportunity will equate to a job. However, each of these skills is very complex, and people spend significant time trying to become skilled at just one of these disciplines. 

Lie #2 – My services are tailored to your business needs. 

A social media strategist claims (or flat out avoids the idea) that he/she understands your business needs and can execute a strategy specific to that clients’ needs. 

Social media is a communication tool and not the almighty savior of businesses. Don’t lose site of what’s important to your business. Social media and communication should be used as an extension of your ongoing business goals. Without tying together the two, it’s unlikely that meaningful impact will be accomplished. In most cases, the service provider either doesn’t comprehend the importance of linking results your business goals or he/she simply wants to use a rinse and repeat model that can be executed over and over again for many different companies and industries. 

It takes lots of hard work, experience, and desire to constantly learn and master these social media channels. Additionally, without a sound understanding of the business needs and ability to adapt, most social media services are fluff. But, that’s not to say that all service providers are misguided. With proper research and asking the right questions, you can find very capable individuals who can provide online marketing services. Here are some important questions to ask to ensure you don’t fall victim:

1. How Will You Measure My Success?

Measure Success

Courtesy of wwarby

Easily the most important question to ask. Make sure you know what’s important to your business and bottom line beforehand. It probably sounds simply, but it can be easy to be distracted by superficial, vanity metrics. Numerous followers on Facebook or Twitter, tens of  thousands of YouTube views, a growing email subscriber list can sound very enticing. Any maybe these metrics would help you make more money. But, if they are tied to your business goals, they become the end goal. 

2 . How Are Your Services Customized?

Make sure that consideration is given to your specific industry and business model. You’re never going to get a completely made from scratch set of services and you wouldn’t want to have something that’s untested. But, there should be consideration as to why certain services are or are not important for your business. If every client gets the exact same routine, it’s hard to believe that your specific interests are being taken into account.

Now, if you are getting pre-packaged services, you’ll typically save money, but it may not produce the results you desire. That’s a business decision that you’ll ultimately have to make. 

3. What Are Your Previous Successes? 

This question may seem like a no brainer, but it could be overlooked, especially because you yourself may not completely comprehend online marketing. This question is a good “sniff-test” in order to cut through any smoke and mirrors sales talk. Many people can talk about the merits of online marketing and the world of possibilities. But, if you ask to see tangible results, you’ll quickly see the cream rise to the top. 

4. Can I Speak To Three of Your Previous Clients? 

Speak to at least one reference. You may or may not have time to actually speak to all three, but still ask. Other clients can give you great insight into how the person works, his/her personality, and the results gained. Plus, you’ll know you’re not the first one! 

Conclusion

Online marketing is growing and your businesses is already or will eventually become involved. Make sure that your always keeping focus of most important business goals. What other lies pass as social media expertise? What else can business do to protect themselves?

Andrew K Kirk

Entrepreneurial-minded marketer and Founder of Face The Buzz, which helps small-medium businesses and startups harness the power of online marketing. His clients have raised over $3.5 million in funding while working with Face The Buzz.

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