Asking pertinent questions when sourcing a social media expert is essential - obviously.
After all, in the last 18 months, there's been a proliferation of new social media consultants, social media experts, social media whizzkids, social media marketers, and social media Gurus springing out of the business woodwork.
If I was tasked with the onerous job of sourcing and hiring a social media consultant, it might appear at first inspection to be a thoroughly daunting task. But it doesn't have to be, if you ask the right questions when you interview/interrogate them.
I'm hoping - by the way - that you do actually go for the interrogation method - it will save you time, and scare off the less able.
So, to help you on your way to finding the right person to assist you with your social media marketing, here's my top six questions to ask:
* Do they write a blog - and update it regularly?
A well-written, consistent and effective blogging presence is the linchpin of any social media expert. If the individual in front of you isn't blogging, or has been writing a blog for less than three years, it's worth asking the simple question 'why' of them.
* How long have they been involved in social media?
If the answer is less than six years, it's questionable if they really are a social media expert - or if it's another individual/agency which has jumped on the social media Gold Rush to make money from delivering little.
* Are they proficient in marketing business and consumer clients?
A truly versatile, adaptable and savvy social media expert should be able to effectively work with businesses and consumer-based organisations to deliver stunning social media marketing. If they can't demonstrate this, be wary.
* Will they let you speak to their current social media clients?
One of the acid tests of a good social media marketer is their willingness to allow potential clients to talk to their existing client base about their work. If they are reticent, or talk about 'confidentiality' of clients, be insistent.
* Do they have a range of high-profile social media profiles?
Ask if they are present on the main social media platforms, and are active on them. I've seen so-called social media experts without effective Twitter profiles, without blogs, and even without Facebook profiles in the past.
* Are they willing to highlight definitive ROI from social media campaigns?
Insist on seeing examples and case studies from them, highlighting ROI from their social media marketing for clients. If they can't or won't, be aware that you might be in front of nothing more than a snakeoil salesman on the social web.
So, taking these six questions into consideration, if you get the right answers initially, chances are you're sitting opposite a reputable, passionate and professional advocate of social media marketing.
If not - as they say in all the best tabloid features - make your excuses and leave.