I saw a post from an old acquaintance the other day on twitter who was searching for a job. He claimed he was a social media expert looking for a high level marketing position. I shot a reply asking him what skills he had and his background experience.

He responded that he was an expert in Facebook, twitter, linked in, you tube, digg and other social  sites. I proceeded  to follow-up with questioning as to what specific marketing experience he had. He said nothing corporate but again he knew the in’s and out of social media and was proficient at engaging people through these channels. Frankly this worried me, there is a lot more to marketing then just engaging people. It’s only one step.  So I went on a mission. I started interviewing  a lot of  social media marketing firms out there and what their past experiences were DIRECTLY in consumer marketing. 40%, yes a whole  40% claimed that they were social media all stars, but with no other marketing experience behind their belt.

We live in a digital society- knowing the in’s and out of how to use face book and twitter and all those other great sites, doesn’t make you an expert, or a guru…it makes you one out of millions.  My friend’s fifteen year old niece probably knows very well how to engage people on these sites as well. She does it daily too.

So how do you actually find an expert? More so how do you find someone whose work actually causes an impact , result and a furthering of your entire marketing strategy? My firm LuxuryReach and I take this pretty seriously  and while this article may lost me some friends, it’s  in the pursuit of higher standards and greater good.

1)  Ask how they research their clients overall marketing goals and initiatives outside of their social media program. We found a lot of SME’s (Social Media Experts) really didn’t do any research at all. Their plan was to set up and optimize accounts, create posts and comments and interact with customers/clients. This is needed of course, but it’s also  futile in a world where everyone is doing it unless it coincides with other marketing/brand initiatives, overall strategy  and intensive industry knowledge.  Ignore any social experts who don’t perform a full marketing review and analysis for you.

2) Ask to see Quantitative results from their past three campaigns. It’s easy to start conversations, it requires a skilled marketer to start conversations that lead to interactions which further lead to sales.  Your expert/guru/firm should be able to provide numbers behind their work. Whether it’s increased sales and revenues, increased client retention or decreased costs, they should be able to separate their initatives from other marketing programs their clients are engaging in and provide concrete and verifiable results. Likes, comments, and retweets are important, but not if they never impact your bottom line

3) Ask to see their background experience.  There are social media experts all over the world. There are far less who even know the basic and more importantly  advanced strategies to marketing and communications.  If you broke your wrist, would you see a man who looked at pictures of the human body all day, or a Dr. who went to medical school and treated  broken bones specifically? Both may be experts in the workings of the human body, the Dr., however has the background, experience, and education to take care of your SPECIFIC need. This view should be taken with all specialists, social media included.

So, in closing be wary- Be wary of the service providers who may be able to provide marginal help, but whose overall impact may pale in comparison to the results other can bring to the table.

Author: Zachary Weiner- CEO LuxuryReach Inc, President Media Influence Inc.  Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook.