There are many types of social media consultants out there.

I’ve found that most fit into one of four categories, ranging from newbie to accomplished.

Even though each of these four social media consultants are needed, only a few should be seriously considered when making a hire for your business.


Why Do Social Media Consultants Get Hired?

Let’s start at the beginning. Plenty of companies outsource their social media activities.

Whether you’re a business looking for social media consultants to interview or a social media consultant looking for work, here are four reasons companies outsource their social media:

  • It’s expensive to hire top-tiered, experienced roles
  • The tasks for social media roles are time-consuming
  • Strategies and tactics change rapidly
  • The skills needed are often considered “specialty skills” (like advertising or audience development)

While most companies are looking for data-driven social media consultants who can help them achieve business goals, there’s an ugly truth out there that needs to be addressed.

Some companies only care about vanity metrics … meaning fan and follower counts, and “likes” and favorites.

Yes, follower growth is absolutely necessary as part of a social media plan.

But if those fans aren’t buying from you, providing critical feedback for your business, or helping you reach your business goals, they’re likely worthless.

That said, our first of four social media consultants is often found touting vanity metrics as “successful” social media.

Two Common Social Media Consultants & Their Abilities

There are two social media consultants you are very likely to encounter online.

Or perhaps you’ll see them running a Facebook ad for the “Ultimate 10-Step Social Media Strategy That ALWAYS Works.” (Trust us when we say to steer clear of “plug-and-play” social strategies.)


1) The Newbie

Also known in the industry as:

  • The “unicorn and rainbows” marketer
  • A self-proclaimed guru or ninja (see also: “diva”, “queen” or “king”)

How to spot the newbie:

  1. Talks about social media in subjective, descriptive terms
  2. Their ideas and concepts are usually “right brain” dominated
  3. They know how to gain attention online, but not necessarily with reaching goals or completing key performance indicators (KPIs)
  4. Doesn’t really understand how to look past Fan & Follower counts for return on investment (ROI)
  5. Little to no understanding of analytics and metrics that go deeper, such as share of voice, audience development, or dollar-for-dollar ROI

There’s nothing wrong with being a newbie — we all have to start somewhere!

But unless you’re testing social media tactics with no real need for tying social media goals to business outcomes, let the newbie grow up a bit before taking them for a test drive.


2) The Anti-Guru

Also known in the industry as the “up and comer.”

How to spot the anti-guru:

  1. Not scared of discussing numbers; jumps at the chance to discuss reporting
  2. Combines creative efforts with concepts with business outcomes; basic data analysis skills
  3. Uses both his or her “right brain” and “left brain” when it comes to problem-solving
  4. Uses social media platform analytics or tools, like Facebook Insights or Twitter Analytics
  5. Usually unable to communicate “why” metrics succeed or fail

The anti-guru is well on their way to becoming a social media powerhouse. If you’re a small company with a small budget, this is a good social consultant to partner with.

Two Less Common Social Media Consultants & Their Abilities


3) The Data Lover

Also known in the industry as a data-driven marketer, or “smartie pants.”

  1. Extremely comfortable with social media metrics and analytics
  2. They understand click behavior, your customer funnel, and friction points in the buyer’s journey
  3. Uses Google Analytics and goal completions with ease
  4. Firm grasp on social strategy processes and workflows; can hit the ground running when hired
  5. Interested in connecting your brand with influencers, not just followers and fans

The data lover may cost you a bit more, but with the results you’re likely to see using this experienced consultant, it will be well worth it.


4) The Professional

They may not be well known in the industry because they care more about proving success for clients and less about the limelight. You may also hear of social celebrities mentioning this person as a “go-to” for certain skills.

  1. In-depth knowledge of metrics, KPIs, best practices for both management and measurement of most all digital marketing efforts
  2. Regularly conducts A/B testing with graphics, copy, advertising and other important social elements
  3. Works readily with custom dashboards and reports; has likely built his or her own
  4. Regularly conducts pattern discovery with social content, helping make data-driven content decisions
  5. Develops custom KPIs and is a “go-to” person for analysis & metrics; often Google Analytics certified

You’ll know the professional when you see them. And they’ll be ready and willing to share their current clients, past successes (and failures) with you as a prospective client. The professional is ready to put a team of their own professionals to work as a hybrid team for your company.

Choosing The Right Consultant For You & Your Business

No one can tell you which of the above social media consultants is right for your business — that’s up to you, your budget, and your needs.

In my humble opinion, the “unicorns and rainbows” consultants need to change their tune or I doubt they will have much success in the social sphere.

With algorithm changes and “pay to play” tactics making it harder and harder to garner exposure for brands, they simply won’t be able to keep up with the fast-paced social sphere.

I’m curious, what kind of social media consultant are you? If you’re brave enough, post your type in the comments below!