With so many self-professed social media gurus, how can a business owner or marketing department reliably select a potential outsourced social media agency or social networking talent? It's difficult to decifer who's real and who's a charletan!
Given the fact that there are huge difference in experience within any agency, doing homework and learning about the prospective service provider may be critical to assure that you don't wind up in a situation where a deceptive marketer has set up your website or blog or social accounts, and refused to relinquish them to you.
Recently I learned of a situation locally where an organization that's starting up is offering the members a 'free' website. The reality is that the person who is building the sites is retaining ownership and the business that has directed traffic to the site is now at risk. This is reputation management at the core, and the credility of the ongoing concern could be compromised.
How can you evaluate a b2b social media marketing agency or inbound marketing strategy company? Here's a few clues to learn who you may be dealing with:
1. Google the person who you are checking out. What comes up in a search? Have they been involved in filing litigation? Do they have multiple liens and judgements? You can get a background check done inexpensively by a company such as Intelysis. This may be the best investment you make if you do this before moving forward!
2. Use Linkedin to check out the person's background. How long has their account been active? Is it recent and all of their friends are new? What kind of positions have they held? Are they confused about what they do to the extent that they give a litany of grandiose titles to themself? That's a big tipoff that the person is not credible.
3. Do they truly know what they are talking about? You can tell if they are quoted by others. Guest blogs don't count!
4. Have they worked for any recognized companies or organizations? Chances are that they've worked for at least one name you'd recognize.
5. Do they have references? Any recognizable people? Or are their references bottom feeders? You can tell when they have a company name that's a 'sound alike'... or it's almost familiar but not quite the name you know. That's a tell-tale sign you're dealing with a second tier marketer.
6. Who are they involved with in social networks? Are their connections questionable?
7. Have they a strong Twitter following? Are there ongoing Twitter interactions?
8. What type of content and thought leadership have they been involved with? Are they publishing marketing pablum or do they understand the forefront of the industry?
Don't be fooled by pseudo marketers who dummy a resume and parrot words they've picked up from other people. Find a person with the background, skills, experience and insights who can help you move the bar to improve your social media marketing and online credibility.