The ‘build it and they will come’ approach can’t be applied to your social media presence. Just because you have a Facebook Page or a Twitter Profile doesn’t mean customers will find you. Not only that, but there’s no guarantee if they find you, they’ll continue to engage on a regular basis.
For businesses being active on social media requires a strategy. Creating a profile on a social network is easy, but figuring out how to leverage it to achieve your business goals is a whole other story. Without a plan in place, you’re just shouting at a crowd.
Social media is evolving quickly, and keeping it up with all of the changes can feel like a daunting task. Whether you’re a business that’s just starting out, or already have established marketing efforts in place, it’s still easy to get lost in the noise. That’s where a social media consultant can come in handy.
Here’s more information about social media consultants and how to determine whether hiring one is the right move for your business.
What Is a Social Media Consultant?
Social media consultant is a broad title and can mean different things to various people. For the sake of this article, we define a social media consultant as someone who can advise clients on how to develop and execute successful social media marketing campaigns.
This person should have a thorough understanding of the marketing industry as a whole, as well as your specific industry and target market. And it’s not enough to be an expert in just one network. Effective consultants must be knowledgable of the strengths and weaknesses of each platform available to you. Some of their tasks should include:
- Craft social media policies
- Develop employee advocacy and customer loyalty strategies
- Run social media promotions and contests
- Measure different audiences
- Live and breathe KPIs and social metrics
A social media consultant is also willing to learn new things and adapt quickly. Social media is moving at a lightning pace, and new options arise every day. This person is not only able to keep up with the changes, but they also possess the critical thinking skills required to quickly adapt your strategy as a result.
What Can a Social Media Consultant Do for You?
Social media consultants wear many hats, but ultimately their responsibilities will be determined based on your company’s needs. Here are just a few of the ways in which a consultant can help:
1. Navigate the Unknown
As we said, a social media consultant will have a thorough understanding of the social media landscape. This includes popular social networks as well as the lesser known or more niche platforms and apps. But more than that, they’ll know how each platform, app or feature will tie into your business objectives.
This is important when creating your strategy for several reasons.
- The platforms you’re active on will impact your ability to reach the right audience. By staying on top of demographic data, you’ll be able to find the exact networks your target audience belongs to and the type of online behaviors exhibited by this group. For example, how do millennials use Twitter versus baby boomers? Understanding these different behaviors can help you shape your outreach campaign to ensure success.
- Utilizing the right social tools can make or break a campaign. Every social network has its own strengths and weaknesses, and understanding which platform-specific features are best suited for your business objectives is critical for success. For example, Twitter is better for real-time conversations around live events while Facebook’s News Feed content has a longer half-life.
- Social media is about more than follower counts. While you’re motivated to build an audience and convert them into customers, your goal shouldn’t be to amass as many followers as possible no matter the cost. Social media success is about quality, not quantity. A consultant will know how to leverage the platform’s strengths to connect you with the right people.
Not only do you want to target the right platforms, but you also want to make sure you’re targeting the correct people. A great way to see exactly who you should target is to look at a demographic makeup of your current follower-base. With a free trial of Sprout Social, you can begin to pull in gender, age and location data from some of your social audiences. Together you and your consultant can pair the demographic data with your personal data to hone your segmentation strategy.
2. Social Strategy & Audits
Social media is a light-hearted place where people and brands go to have fun, but it also has a measurable impact on your bottom line. To ensure your social media marketing campaigns contribute to your greater business objectives, you need a strategy.
From the start, your consultant will make sure the goals you’ve put in place are what you should actually be focusing on. One of the best ways to determine how to move forward is to look at the current challenges you’re facing. For example, maybe website traffic has declined. In this case, it doesn’t make sense to continue posting content that links to other websites. Look at the whole picture and make sure that your actions are in line with your objectives.
A smart strategy will help you overcome challenges, whether they’re related to website traffic, customer loyalty or even making people aware your product exists. This also has to be done in a timely manner or consultants run the risk of losing customers.
Before changes can be made you need a status report of your current operations. The best way to achieve this is through a social media audit.
If you have an existing social media presence, a consultant will likely conduct a social media audit, which examines your social media profiles, checks their completion status and consistency, and looks at performance metrics as they tie into your goals. It’s a scary word, but it’s really an opportunity for reflection and growth. Audits give incoming consultants—as well as your team—an idea of where your social media efforts currently stand so they can better assist you in moving forward.
If you’re just starting out and don’t have any social media profiles established yet, don’t worry. An audit will take place a bit later down the line, once you have a few more assets in place. Social media audits will enable consultants to accurately recommend everything from which metrics to track to topics and themes that will resonate with your audience. With a roadmap in place, you’ll be well on your way to taking your social presence to the next level.
Sprout offers a robust suite of social media analytics and reporting tools that’ll help you dig deeper into your strategy and get the most out of your audit. Our Engagement Report measures many things such as how well your team responds to messages and finds actionable ways to improve. Additionally, there are Team Reports which analyzes your team’s activity and performance around tasking and collaboration to increase efficiency.
Remember the first audit will always be the most time consuming because you’re essentially starting out with a blank slate. Don’t let this deter you from repeating the audit down the road. In order to ensure your social media efforts are paying off, repeat the audit a couple times throughout the year—at the very least annually. A social media strategy, much like the medium itself, isn’t static and should evolve as your objectives do.
3. Content Marketing
Now that you know where you should be and who you’re targeting, it’s time to start thinking about what you’ll say. Content is an critical part of your social media strategy. On the other hand, just because you know what formats you’ll use and how often you’ll publish, doesn’t mean that you have a content strategy in place.
A content strategy helps you to deliver insightful content to the right people at the most ideal time. When one of those components is missing, your efforts won’t be effective. For instance, if you’re delivering content that’s not right for the group of people you’re targeting, they won’t read it.
Your social media consultant should consider a few key elements when helping you craft a content strategy:
- Its substance. What is the content about? Is it aligned with your company’s core values and goals?
- Its structure. How is the content organized and displayed? What’s your voice? Is it consistent across all channels?
- Its workflow. What people and processes are needed to support its creation?
- Its reproducibility. Should automation play a role, and if so, how often and with which type of content?
Additionally, consultants should begin to think beyond just you and your social team. Ideally these professionals should already be connected to influencers in your industry who can help build awareness for your products or services. Your consultant needs to work influencers into your content strategy to maximize reach and delivery.
Use Sprout’s Trends Report to gain insight into what’s being said on social networks and who’s saying it. This report analyzes all of your incoming messages and identifies the top topics, hashtags and influencers mentioned with your profiles. Additionally, our network specific reports can provide you with detailed data around how content is performing on an individual platform.
The Instagram Report, for example, lets you:
- View Likes and comments over time
- Break down engagement based on followers and posts
- Identify performance trends
- Analyze your hashtag strategy
- Discover engaged influencers
Similar analytics can be monitored for Twitter and Facebook as well.
This data will help you determine the type of content that’s resonating with your audience and where adjustments need to be made.
So, Should You Hire a Social Media Consultant?
Unfortunately only you can answer that. You know your strengths and weaknesses better than we do. When making your decision, keep in mind that a social media consultant will be dedicated to expanding your brand while helping you free up some of your own time. Sometimes business owners don’t have the required bandwidth to launch a brand new social media strategy. If you’re spread a little too thin, the extra help is worthwhile.
That said, do your homework. There are a lot of self-proclaimed experts out there. Make sure the person you invite into your team can back up their claims. Ask to see past examples of their work and how they measure their own performance. Does this individual have experience working within your industry? Trust your instincts. Do you feel confident in their abilities to educate you and your team? If not, don’t settle.
This post Does Your Business Need a Social Media Consultant? originally appeared on Sprout Social.
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