You think that you want it - but you aren't even sure what "it" is.
But if your competitors "have it" then you want to get some too.
So, you start looking around to figure out how to get some of those social media whatnots for your company.
And you run right into the closest social media "expert" who has a couple hundred friends on Facebook and used MySpace a couple of times.
There are close to 10,000 of these self-proclaimed guru/expert/specialist/superstar/consultants on Twitter alone.
You aren't to blame. It's not your fault. You are just looking for a guide through these very confusing new times. When you go out to find a consultant, there are a few things you should look for in your "experts":
Active: Does the agency utilize social media tools? Not did they set up a Twitter account in January and haven't done anything with it since then. The company should be active in the space.
Creators: Does the agency create content? The company should have strategic content that they have created and a strategy that goes beyond just setting up some accounts. Really, anyone can set up a facebook page - what are they going to do with it?
Thought Leaders: Are they just talking about themselves? The company should take a position on issues and actually bring leadership and ideas to the conversation.
Clients: Does the company have social media clients other than themselves? The company should have examples of social media strategy that they have created for clients.
Results: Does the company have ROI case studies for clients? Companies can't call themselves experts because they read about someone else's success. They have to have case studies that show an ROI for their client.
Toolkit: Does the company utilize social media as a solution or as a tool in the toolkit? Social media isn't a strategy. Social media isn't a solution. Social media is a tactic, like tv or radio and should be considered accordingly.
Relationship: Does the company use social media platforms to broadcast their message or engage in relationships? It is called SOCIAL media. All of it - Twitter, Facebook, Blog, YouTube, etc - is about creating and maintaining relationships. The company has to engage with people not talk at them.
Reciprocity: Does the company share resources and encourage reciprocity? Some users just count the numbers of followers and subscribers without giving back. It has to be mutual.
Cross Platform: Does the company only utilize one platform - only active in Twitter? It is a WEB of connectivity. It only works right when it is all working together. Otherwise it's like running a tv spot with no visuals.
Branding: Does the company understand branding? Every touchpoint has to work in connection with the others. They have to know how to implement a strategic message across all platforms to work together to change the conversation.
Social media is still evolving and still so new. There are new applications and opportunities created every day. We are really all just practitioners.
So, if the person you are talking to refers to themselves in third person or if at any point during the conversation they refer to themselves as a Queen or a Guru or a Diva or a Superstar...run, do not walk, away.
That is a bad sign that they probably don't know as much as they want you to think they do. And you will be very disappointed to realize that just because they are calling themselves an expert won't actually make them an expert.
I mean really, who calls themselves a Guru...
So what do you think? Any other signs people should look for in choosing a strategic partner?
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist