In my recent post Social Media Snake Oil I touched on some simple clues that your potential social media services provider is a snake oil salesman. Now I'd like to show you how you can confirm any suspicions.
Step 1: You need a list of questions for the "expert." I'm a big fan of Ian Lurie's Conversation Marketing blog and his 10 Questions to Evaluate a Social Media 'Expert'. Between the original list and the great comments left by others there's a ton of great fodder for questions.
Step 2: You will want to discover all their social media names so you can do research on them. Google and Yahoo searches should turn up most, if not all, of them. If a search on their name or their company name does not reveal very many social presences, run the other way.
Step 3: Try to visit their pages on the most-popular social platforms - in no particular order: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Fickr. Also find their blog (they do have a blog don't they?). To do this go to one of these sites and enter their name and use the "refine search" function to narrow your search: Google blog search or Technorati blog search (at the top of the page).
Step 4: Based on what you see on all of these pages and social media sites you will want to look for:
- Frequency of posting and engaging with others
- The tone of their conversations
- How they use these tools: Do they share valuable content and help people or ... well, that's what they should be doing
- The numbers of people who follow, friend or connect with them (while not the most-important measure, it is part of what counts)
Step 5: Use specific tools to assess their social media standing. For example on Twitter you can use Klout where you should pay attention to the True Reach. Influencer Of and overall score numbers.
Other influence tools on Twitter can be found in my previous blog post 7 Tools to Find Who's Big on Twitter.
And just for a laugh (and this video is not for the easily offended) you should watch The Social Media Guru - and if your potential vendor starts talking like this guy - you guessed it: Run the other way!