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Thursday, September 30, 2010

INTERNET MARKETING: Don't Hire a Social Media Manager Until You First Know What to Ask...

Internet Marketing with Joyanne Sloan

Top 5 questions you must ask before hiring a social media manager

Due to the significant challenges related to a global economic restructuring, businesses large and small are being forced to adapt or perish. Unfortunately, far too many of these businesses are reducing or even eliminating their marketing budgets. But when things are tight, is absolutely the wrong time to be cutting off your lead generating efforts. Thankfully, the world of social media marketing has introduced a very powerful, and yet very low cost, method of building your brand and your business.

As a relatively new phenomenon in the world of Internet marketing, social media marketing is truly a new frontier. As such, many business owners simply don't understand, and therefore, cannot embrace the opportunity presented by the collective audiences of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

If in an effort not to be left behind, you've decided to hire a social media manager (or outsource the work to a social media management company), there are few questions you should know before conducting interviews.

1. How much marketing experience do you have?
The technology that drives social media was designed for the masses such that it's fairly straightforward and relatively easy to use. While creating a Facebook fan page or sending out updates to your Twitter followers does not require any advanced skills, it's essential to remember that your involvement on social media platforms is not merely to network with others but to effectively market your products and services.

The point is that even if your son-in-law spends all his spare time on Facebook, that doesn't make him necessarily equipped to produce results where your social media marketing is concerned. On that same note, because social media marketing is such a newcomer, don't rely upon the candidate's history with social media as a reliable barometer of whether or not they can get the job done. The 2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report indicates that fully 65% of marketing managers who use social media have been doing so for only a few months or less.

2. What is your plan for marketing my business using social media?
It's important to understand that social media marketing is simply one of myriad marketing tactics available to promote your business. A tactic is a hands-on, action-oriented implementation of your overall marketing strategy. A strategy is a plan; a series of deliberate tactical activities conducted over time toward reaching your professional goals.

Arriving at an effective social media strategy means having a comprehensive understanding of the thousand piece puzzle that is marketing. You'll want to make sure that your social media manager is sufficiently experienced with general marketing principles so that they are able to provide you with a true social media strategy and not merely a bunch of disconnected tactical efforts.

3. How will I know if social media marketing has been effective?
The Internet is full of articles and buzz concerning the return on investment of social media marketing. In truth, the efficacy of your business efforts in this arena depend squarely upon how consistently you utilize social media tools. It's unrealistic to expect immediate results simply because you've put up your Facebook fan page.

After all, social media marketing is just that … social. It's truly a relationship-based solution and, as such, should not be measured by dollars alone. At the outset, consider your social media campaigns a success if you have either increased your brand awareness or built an audience of potential customers for your business.

Statistically, 85% of businesses marketing themselves through social media report that it generated greater exposure for their business. 52% say that social media generated qualified leads and 40% said it helped them close new business. Bear in mind that if your social media manager does nothing more than maintain your presence on these networks, it's unlikely that you'll see a measurable return from their efforts. Maintenance is simply maintenance rather than a sales-driven campaign. When your gardener maintains the lawn at your house, you wouldn't expect a return on the money you paid him to mow it.

4. What can I read about what you do and how you do it?
Social media marketing is essentially a new way of communicating with your prospects on THEIR terms. It's essential that you remember that social media networks provide for two-way communication. Because your social media manager will act as the virtual voice of your business, it's very important that they demonstrate professionalism as well as superior writing and communication skills.

By requesting writing samples of anyone you're considering hiring, you'll get a good sense of whether or not they understand the mechanics of social media marketing in particular and Internet marketing in general.

5. What can I expect from your service?
Because social media marketing is really in its infancy, chances are good that your company doesn't have a social media plan or policy in place. If you're really starting at the beginning, be certain to clearly document what it is that you want to achieve through social media. Ask any potential hires to provide you with a set of actions broken down into specific, methodical steps including the frequency and duration of each step. By establishing clear expectations at the outset, you'll improve the likelihood that those expectations will either be met or exceeded. Do remember that social media is a changing landscape and flexibility is warranted.

Joyanne Sloan is a strategic marketing expert sharing insights on effective Internet marketing for low-tech entrepreneurs. Her articles and information products provide practical, plain-English marketing solutions that get real results. For private consulting or social media management services, you may reach her at 206.388.3882 or by e-mail at

For more information, please visit Joyanne's TNNWC Bio.

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