I found Kyle Lacy on Twitter recently and really like what I saw. There are a number of his blog posts that are great.
In light of yesterday’s announcement I wanted to share his 25 tips on choosing a social media consultant, and MY thoughts on each of them:
1. They need to use the tools they are teaching.
I totally agree – they have to eat their own dog food. I’ve seen social media experts who have made a lot of money (stay with me) selling products and coaching on how to use social media… but they haven’t ever sold any non-social-media stuff. They have jumped on the bandwagon at the right time, made TONS of money, but haven’t really done it themselves.
2. They communicate with their audience.
True. I’ve been not-as-great as this as I’ve wanted to… at the same time, I hate seeing a blog post where every other comment is from the blog author saying “thanks!”
3. Do they call themselves a Social Media Expert? Ask about the 10,000 hours rule.
I’ll typically let others call me an expert (in anything) rather than me saying I am one. Same with guru, etc. Let others give you the title.
With regard to the 10,000 rule, considering someone has spent the last 4 years immersed in social media (at 40 hours a week), they still wouldn’t have hit 10,000 hours… I doubt that some people who we all admire have 10k hours, but I get the point… a newbie vs. a veteran…
4. Ask them their definition of social media.
Kyle says: “If they give you a list of tools. Fail them.” Oh my gosh. I can’t agree more. I work with very busy people… they don’t want a list of 25 places to go, or tools to use, or accounts to have. Give me a break – social media is not a list of the hundreds of places – think more about strategy and tactics.
5. They will run your Twitter account for you.
Kyle says: “It is impossible to ghost a Twitter account.” I agree. Twitter has to have a genuine person, with a personality, behind it. There are techniques to take the pressure off of constant updates, or posting daily, or whatever, but I would not suggest ghost tweeting if you are marketing your own stuff.
6. Their blog is less than six months old with no comments.
Considering blogging has been around for a long time I mostly agree… however, there will be many new blogs starting now, or that have started a few months ago, that are quite credible. One way to get around this is to develop the persona of ”I’m a newbie learning – won’t you learn along with me? Let’s go!” … I’ve seen that work quite well.
With regard to no comments, I mostly agree there, also… although getting comments on blogs has gotten increasingly difficult because some people might comment on Twitter or Facebook or other places and that might now show up on the blog post… more on that here.
7. Ask them about social bookmarking. Do they know what it is? Do they use it?
I don’t use it. Oops. Or not oops. I think it depends on your product/service and audience… for me it hasn’t hit my radar much, considering I have limited bandwidth.
8. Have they taught a class before on social media? Even a webinar?
I can see this point… I’m guessing that a “coach” in social media will have done multiple presentations.
9. Are they a Just-add-water expert?
Not sure what that means but I’m guessing it refers to all the people who have read a book or article and say they are an expert. LOTS of those.
10. They actually have a personality and GET people.
Yep, agreed. Kyle says to not go to the extreme – either no personality or TOO MUCH. Yeah, totally.
11. They blog more than once a week.
Totally. I say your blog is the anchor of your social marketing strategy for a reason, you BETTER blog more than once a week!
12. They are linking and being linked.
Yeah, being known is good. Although there are “experts” out there who are known but still don’t have real world experience… selling their own stuff….
13. Ask their opinion on viral marketing.
I don’t get what Kyle writes in his original post on this, but my thoughts go to “viral videos.” You don’t make a viral video, you make a video that goes viral. You don’t send a viral message, you send a message that goes viral.
Regarding “viral marketing” in general, this is one of the most amazing aspects of the internet.
14. Check out their website.
yeah… if they don’t have a website, that might be a problem :p
15. What do other people think about them?
I think it might be hard to really figure this out – online I see a lot of ego stroking… people are pretty quick to say nice stuff and endorse… unless you are young and immature… but there are places to see this, like LinkedIn Recommendations, etc.
16. They advise you to start a Facebook page as the first step.
I would never suggest that – FB is so very misunderstood and even though they are beyond huge, they are not the first place I’d recommend for most businesses.
17. The instant success test.
Kyle says “If they promise instant results.. You should probably find another consultant.” Agreed – if you are looking for instant you might want to go back to your day job. Let’s think about long-term… networking and relationships is LONG TERM.
Instantly results can lead to instant failure.
18. What do they think about traditional marketing and advertising?
He makes good points here. I have strong opinions about this…
19. Ask them about Radian6.
Kyle says “If they have no idea about Radian6. FAIL.” I totally disagree. I have heard of Radian6 but couldn’t tell you what they do (well, I know now). At the small business, entrepreneur level where you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on their types of services they are irrelevant – not knowing who they are is not a fail, it just means that they have impressed Kyle and he thinks they have awesome services (which they probably do).
20. How long have they been using Twitter?
Mostly important, but I’ve seen some social marketing practioners who have been using other tools well but have small followings on Twitter. Twitter is not the be-all, end-all. Powerful, important, etc. but not critical for all businesses.
I think this point suffers from the “when all you have is a hammer, all of your problems look like a nail” syndrome.
21. They believe in actually listening to your problems instead of convincing you about the world of social media.
Agree – because sometimes your important solutions might not even be social marketing.
22. If they are still using an @aol.com, @aim.com, @comcast.net, or @att.net email. Fail them.
LOL. I have to agree with this… I know plenty of successful business people who use those email systems, but if you are in the social space, as an expert or consultant, that would be a red flag for me.
Notice he didn’t put gmail on the list? I’m sure that is intentional.
23. Listen for new approaches to strategy.
Creative doesn’t always mean better or good… too many times I see these “new approaches” tried by early adopters … who always seem to be jumping from one thing to another… I like principle-based stuff and prefer not to jump all over the place, on all the networks.
24. Are they a used car salesman? Do they seem genuine?
Kyle says: “Do not work with someone you do not trust. Period.” Yep, trust your gut. And if their sales page wears out your mouse scroll wheel.. um…
25.Do they have any success stories?
Success stories OF THEIR OWN. That could be an increase of sales, a media gig (getting on TV or print), etc.
Thanks Kyle, for giving me stuff to think about and the opportunity to comment on stuff that’s also been bugging me a for a while!