A few months ago, Peter Shankman ruffled the “Social Media World” with a blog post that proclaimed: “I Will Never Hire a “Social Media Expert and Neither Should You”.
Needless to say, it caused a stir and generated more than 400 comments, which was not surprising given his post featured provocative paragraphs like this one:
“No business in the world should want a “Social Media Expert” on their team. They shouldn’t want a guru, rock-star, or savant, either. If you have a “Social Media Expert” on your payroll, you’re wasting your money.”
As someone who offers some social media consulting services, Shankman’s post hit close to home and, after much thought, I’ve come to the conclusion he’s right and wrong. Yes, it’s a Switzerland-like assessment but hear me out.
In Shankman’s support, one of the biggest dangers in hiring a social media consultant is they’re focused and specialized on a particular niche. The problem is that creating a social media strategic plan means having knowledge and insight into all the areas that will have an impact on social media – sales, marketing and communications.
It is impossible to put together a social media plan with any shot of being successful if a holistic view of the corporate landscape isn’t taken. To simply focus on social media tactics is disaster because it doesn’t take into account the key elements of a company’s operations.
This is the mistake many companies make when they hire a social media consultant. They bring on someone who knows the tactics and mechanics of blogs, Twitter and Facebook inside out. But they’re not hiring someone who understands the big picture strategic goals, and how social media can support and complement them. As a result, your Twitter account may be well-run but it doesn’t matter if it’s not driving well-defined corporate goals.
For many clients, the most value I bring to social media consulting assignments is an appreciation of how businesses operate, an interest in what they want to achieve with social media, and a focus on creating great story that can be delivered via social media.
While tactical execution is important, tactics are more blocking and tackling that can only happen if a strategic plan has been put in place.
If you are going to hire a social media consultant, make sure they can bring more to the table than just in-depth knowledge of the tools. It is important they have the ability and insight to understand your business and your goals for social media. If they can then help you with tactical execution, that’s a bonus.