Monday, January 25, 2010

Social media: How to hire the perfect expert?

Read from Marketing Vox on what kind of person we should be hiring for social media marketing. Well, I've never met this person in Malaysia before (if you are one of these rare breeds, please CALL me!!). But it's interesting to see if the agency meets this benchmark. So here, I will try to be as neutral and as objective as possible to measure our capability in providing a sound social media marketing plan for our clients.

According to Ballenthin, the person you should be looking for will have:
1. A significant business and communications background - preferably a minimum of 3 to 5 years in marketing, journalism or media. "This forms a foundation for understanding effective communication strategies and implementation." Definitely. Dentsu is one of the pioneers in the communication business.

2. A history of success in their communications background. "You wouldn’t let a mechanic work from a text book or just on their own car before they safety your car." Look for someone who has proven repeatedly he or she can deliver expectations for program results that have real business value. Due to lack of opportunities in the past few years, we may not have a strong history of success. However, what we have implemented so far did not just provide positive results but also a steep learning curve.

3. A series of measureable accomplishments in social media that can be independently validated. "Having ten thousand followers on Twitter means you learned once how to create this achievement but an expert is someone who has achieve above average accomplishments several times." Sorry, we don't have ten thousand followers on Twitter. But we do have twenty thousand followers on Facebook for compensation.

4. A true understanding of your customer’s relationship with social media before proposing a program. Your customers may not want anything to do with Twitter of Facebook or never have used LinkedIn, Ballenthin says. "An expert should build a vibrant profile of your customer’s online behavior and model a program that’s good for them versus the latest gadget and trendy sites to go with." This is an exceptional thought and it hits right at the centre of the Strategic Planning nerve. No consumer understanding, no communication plan. Period. Whether online or offline, the fundamental discipline does not change.

5. Straight answers when you ask about measuring social media campaigns. 'Social media is too new to be effectively measured' is a common and erroneous claim, he says. "In marketing we understanding that we need a baseline on what we want to change in a business before implementing a new program. If you want to improve retention, cross selling, nurture marketing, prospect acquisition, brand loyalty and use social media marketing to try to achieve that, run the program and measure if there was a difference in these areas or not. Guilty as charged. That was a lame excuse we used to make too. But now that social media marketing has become a very serious discipline here, everything must be measureable and measured differently.

6. A focus on getting a return on investment. "This is where mainstream marketing backgrounds are important. An expert should be interested in validating a financial improvement not just giving you cost." This we have to admit, we're 'forced' by the client to be able to justify the investment and to commit a return. Again, depending on the project and many variables, the return obviously varies. The important thing is, it's both discussed, agreed and committed by the agency and the client.

7. Clear methodologies. Social media is not new anymore. There’ve been hundreds of articles and cases studies on what does and does not work and effective processes. An expert should have a clear set of methodologies they work with to get consistently replicable results otherwise you may have a one hit wonder, if that. Likewise for any marketing strategy, actionable plans must always be in place. We may work around it organically, but the plan doesn't change.

8. An emphasis on an integrated marketing. Social media success rarely happens on its own. "Great social media campaigns require databases, emailing, advertising, publicity, industry influencers and more. It’s exceptional that social media marketing can just happen because it’s a good idea in the right place, other media needs to support effective results." Again, Dentsu is one of the pioneers in integrated marketing. No medium ever stands alone. And that includes social media.

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