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Social Media Experts – are they everything they say they are?

 

Social Media Expert
As someone who specialises in social media and online marketing it’s interesting to me to see how many people are coming into the market offering their services in this arena as a Social Media Expert (can I say at this point that I consider myself to be a specialist, not an expert!). Eighteen months ago I was talking to other small business owners about social media being something that was coming but not that important to them then, and then barely a year later the social media explosion started and people are popping up all over offering social media seminars, training, coaching, consultancy etc.

Social Media for Small Business – Variable Results
Social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube – to name the top four for small businesses to use in my opinion – is being used more and more by small business owners. I hear people talking about how successful it has been for their business with some great case studies, like the energy consultant in our networking group (who I met via Twitter) gaining a 400 house consultancy contract solely through Twitter and a few emails! But more often I hear small business owners who have not yet embraced this new (ish) form of online marketing either by not yet getting involved or by starting to use Twitter and Facebook but seemingly not getting anything from it.

Are you doing it properly?
As with websites I suggest that the main reason for social media not working for a business is due to how it is being used – with a website it is usually the quality of the website development and the subsequent marketing of it that determines its success but often business owners put their lack of online success down to the internet itself and give up. I think the same happens with social media. I have seen countless small business owners set up poor social media profiles, not even including a link back to their website, then they tweet and update with lots of sales messages and then give up as it doesn’t work for them, i.e. they don’t get anyone buying from them as a result of those sales messages.

3 Key Parts to Social Networking
Not surprising really. I did a talk about Twitter recently at a local 4Networking meeting and I used three words to describe what I think you should do when networking online:

Connection
Conversation
Commitment
Without these three things you will not have a successful online presence. Online networking using social media isn’t really any different to offline networking. It’s about connecting with people, ‘talking’ to them, getting to know them, sharing useful information, offering help; and about commiting to building relationships.

How Can You Check Their Expertise?
As I said at the beginning, there are people popping up every day offering to help you with your social media. How do you know who is genuinely going to be able to help you? There are a few checks that you can make to get an idea of how accomplished that person is within the social media sphere.

Twitter
Check their Twitter profile. It’s not necessarily about how many followers they have although I would suggest that the person I saw recently about to offer a class in using social media who only had 25 followers on Twitter and 5 people who ‘like’ his business page maybe should have waited a bit longer before promoting himself as a social media expert! Look at how many lists the person is on, that can indicate that people hold them in high esteem and are tracking their tweets. Have a look at their Twitter stream: are they communicating and connecting with people on a regular basis. Are they providing useful information? Go to Twitter Grader and see how influential they are deemed to be on Twitter (mine is showing as 99.7/100 as I write this, but it is dynamic and does change depending on activity).

Their Website / Blog
Have a look at their website on Alexa to see what sort of traffic they are getting. This website is currently ranked as 408,238 in the world. The lower the ranking the better (today Google is No 1) and so 408,238 might not sound that good to you but I challenge you to check out a few other websites, including yours, and compare them. I’m really pleased with that ranking (it’s just 16,851 in the UK) and it’s going down every week.

Use Website Grader to see how their website scores out of 100 on that. It’s a measure of how good the website is for ‘inbound marketing’, i.e. attracting visitors to the site through various means rather than bombarding people with outbound marketing. This site is currently at 95, but again it changes occasionally (hopefully upwards!) as it is a dynamic rating.

Facebook
Finally, look on their Facebook business page and see how many people ‘like’ the page and what sort of information is being shared on there. How much interaction there is on the page. My Facebook page www.facebook.com/jododdspage has only been up for a couple of months but the likes are steadily growing – please go there and like it now if you haven’t already!

There are obviously other considerations when looking for someone to help you with social media but hopefully this will give you some pointers of the sorts of things to look out for when evaluating whether to go to that seminar or to buy that coaching or consultancy.

 

Tanya Charlotte

Enthusiastic about Internet and online marketing, YouTube and social media to be exact, love to learn new things everyday, I also have a dog and two cats which I can't live without. You can train with me at the GYM 4 times a week and I'll never pass a good movie on Friday nights.