social media consultant

Nearly every week I help mentor some young person who wants to start a career in social media marketing consulting. I’m happy to help but unfortunately find myself bursting a lot of bubbles of overly high expectations. I thought it might be useful to present some straight talk on what it takes to really make it in this business.

It’s really not about social media

Having a deep love of animals does not make you a veterinarian. Having a deep love of social media does not make you a social media marketing professional.

This career choice is about MARKETING not social media.

Approaching the world like social media is the hammer and every problem is a nail will just lead to trouble. Get some real marketing experience before you hang your shingle.

Social media marketing is very hard work

I want you to think of the top people in the field who you admire. I guarantee you they have this in common — they work their asses off.

People are more likely to hire somebody with a reputation and a portfolio of success stories. It takes an enormous amount of work to become “known” and attract customers. Be prepared to put in long hours every day.

Success is hard to come by

I have worked in marketing for nearly 30 years so this is the voice of experience coming at you — We are in the most difficult era to be a marketer … and social media has made the job harder, not easier.

People flock to social platforms to play Farmville and post pictures of their cat. They don’t want to see news about your new line of ball bearings.

It was much easier to “buy” attention — our only option 15 years ago — than it is to earn it now. The problem is made immensely more difficult by the density of information on the web which is exploding. Creating success for your customer takes a keen strategy, insight, patience, and expert execution. Can you deliver that?

Be prepared to be broke for awhile

Nearly every newly-minted social media consultant dreams of helping small businesses with their marketing efforts. Here are some characteristics of a typical small business owner:

  • They are running on a shoe string and don’t have appropriate marketing funds
  • They have no experience in marketing and can’t articulate what they want
  • They are exhausted and don’t have time for social media
  • They expect immediate results from their marketing dollars

Now, do you really want to fill your customer portfolio with that hot mess? Trying to make a living with a portfolio of small business customers is difficult. Be prepared to grind it out for a couple years until you can work your way into larger, more profitable companies.

Build your brand, do the work

Why would I hire a social media consultant who doesn’t blog? Isn’t active on Twitter? Doesn’t have a demonstrated knowledge of video content?

I know it sounds improbable but half the people I mentor are not actively blogging.

Building your brand goes hand in hand with building your business. Do the work.

So there you have it. Are you building a marketing consulting business? What would you add?

Illustration courtesy Toothpaste for Dinner