Social media consultants are not masters of the dark arts. Nor are they only those bearded hipsters who never look away from their iPhone. They are highly-qualified professionals with specific digital marketing and communications skills and experience. Here’s a look at what they bring to a job.
They are strategic advisors
Companies often call a consultant in because social media is not working. It’s not helping them get to where they want to be. The problem usually is they have no strategy or they have the wrong one. A social media consultant’s number one job is to set a strategy that aligns with the organizational goals and objectives. Research is a key part of developing a strategy and keeping a program on track. Most consultants spend time getting an understanding of the organization’s digital footprint and online audiences. A competitor analysis is often done too. All this information is drawn together to develop a picture of how well an organization is doing online and where it needs to go.
A lot of people think of social media as marketing, and it’s an important part. Using social media to attract customers is often where a business starts. But, its use is not limited to marketing. Consultants provide strategic advice to sales and human resources too. Social media is increasingly integrated with e-commerce. Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, for example, all have features that allow people to buy directly. LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator is used by millions of companies, both B2C and B2B. Yet, creating and running social ads is how consultants most-often support sales.
Employee engagement is the number one concern of CEOs today, so social media is playing an increasing role in HR. Consultants support cultural change, recruitment & training and for internal communications initiatives. Social media consultants write policies and guidelines to empower teams while mitigating risk. These are short documents, usually written in plain language and are based on existing codes of conduct.
When a crisis hits, a seasoned consultant can make a quick assessment of the situation and figure out how to proceed using social media–often the quickest and most direct way to get information out. The consultant works with management teams to set priorities, craft messages and prepare statements.
They are effective managers
Relationship management is central to everything a social media consultant does. The ultimate goal is to create and strengthen relationships with the key stakeholder groups an organization depends upon for success. This could be customers, employees, surrounding communities, shareholders, policymakers and so on. Managing strategic partnerships has always been an important part of public relations. Today, consultants identify potential partners whose social media activities add value. This means finding opportunities, collaborating on campaigns, sharing content and audience insights.
Few companies outsource all social media activity to agencies or consultants. So, more and more, social media consultants are being asked to train client teams. This includes best practices, strategy, online tools and platforms, content formats, and more. Paid media is part of most social media campaigns, and that means consultants are managing client budgets.
Checking and adjusting ad programs is a daily activity to maximize ad budgets. Consultants also manage content development, graphic design, video and podcast production, photography or any campaign collateral. And, of course, the consultant must manage time and efforts to keep budgets under control.
They are expert implementers
This is table stakes for a social media consultant. They are experts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, SnapChat and more. Social ads can be complicated so most consultants get industry certifications such as Facebook BluePrint or Twitter Flight School.
Consultants use content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress or Drupal to publish without web support. They can easily create and publish landing pages and blog posts.
Gone are the days when a PR pro worked the phones to shop a story (although some time is still spent this way). Consultants are still expected to have strong media relationships, but these are forged online via social media. Journalists are important influencers, and gaining media coverage brings increased credibility, expanded reach, high awareness and, importantly, backlinks from high domain authority websites. Other influencer relationships are important too. A consultant’s job is to identify and recruit social media users with large and loyal online followings.
To engage online communities, a consultant participates daily in online discussions, asks and answers questions, and distributes valuable news and information. Listening to stakeholder communities is an important piece too. The consultant always listens to gauge audience sentiment to inform all activity.
They are skilled storytellers
Writing remains a core skill of social media consultants. Storytelling is essential to compelling content. Beyond the written word, a social media consultant must be able to create powerful images too using Snappa, Canva or Desiynger. The ability to create images extends to video. A consultant should create quick, authentic, compelling videos. Producing podcasts is another task.
They are metrics geeks
A social media consultant spends a lot of time looking at data. With a daily review of insights, a consultant can adjust strategies and tactics, on the fly, to improve campaign return on investment (ROI).
Bosses (and clients) love reports, and so writing them is an important part of a social media consultant’s job. It means looking at outputs, examining the data, doing the analysis and explaining insights clearly.
So if you had been wondering what your social media consultant is spending the day on, now you know. We’re pretty busy! If you think you could use the support and services of a talented social media consultant, let’s chat. Contact me with the form below.
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