Be taken seriously as a social media consultant

How do we get our foot in the door? Photo: public domain

As a social media consultant, getting your foot in the door will be one of your biggest challenges. There are too many social media consultants out there who claim to be experts but unfortunately, most of them fail to walk the walk. Because of this, companies who have been burned by these supposed “experts” are now becoming more choosy when it comes to picking the right consultant for the job. They are doing their research on people like us (and so they should!) They want to make sure that the consultant they choose not only knows how to use the tools in the box, but also which ones to use at what time and to what end. So then the question becomes: how do us newbies prove that have what it takes? How do we get companies to take us seriously? How do we get that vital first chance?

We've all got to start somewhere! Photo: Courtesy of Adconline

Like the true experts say, and as I’ve mentioned in my previous post (“10 Social Media Consultant fails”) we have to practice what we preach and demonstrate that we recognize social media as tools that help to reach an ultimate goal. Social media is part of an overall communications strategy, not just a way to make a company look cool or edgy…or popular. Having 10,000 followers means nothing if there is no plan to communicate with them, engage with them and learn what it is that makes them tick.

Social media strategy

It's all about the strategy, baby! Photo: Courtesy of Pitch Engine

For those of us who are new to the business, with little tangible evidence of our skills, how can we build credibility and sell our service? How do we prove we’re as capable (or more capable) than the next guy? Well, here’s one incredible resource I found that I think will make a huge impression: The Social Media RFP (Request for Proposal). This document poses about 100 questions regarding your offerings – from your strategy process to metrics to pricing. Not sure about what an RFP is? See here. If you can answer these questions, you’re well on your way to proving that you understand the overall strategy behind social media, as opposed to the simple one-off assignments such as “can you create a Facebook fan page for me?” or “we need 100 followers on Twitter by Wednesday.” Completing an RFP like this one demonstrates that you’re more likely to think objectively and more likely to question the value behind these simple tactical requests.

Don’t be freaked out if this RFP seems a little intense. I’m not ashamed to admit that my eyes bugged out of my head a little bit because the truth of the matter is, there is a lot to know about social media – and assessing your own skills is a scary thing (both for your job and your ego). But take comfort in knowing that not many people out there know it all. It’s the people like you and I who have a thirst for knowledge who will succeed in the end. We care about representing the industry and about building credibility…but most importantly, we love what we do. (If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be taking the time to read this blog in the first place!) Don’t discount this quality! If you enjoy what you do, it will show. Have courage!

If you have any other tips on “getting your foot in the door,” please comment!

Thank you to Social Media Today for this fantastic RFP.

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2 Responses to Be taken seriously as a social media consultant

  1. Marico says:

    Great article! Assessing the right partner is the key to a good collaboration and a good understanding of the new media.

  2. thinkinn0vation says:

    I came across an article today talking about what to look for in a social media company (or consultant). They explain that an RFP is good, but there needs to be more. The consultants should be asking the client most of the questions and they should have a solid list of references. Ok – but what about the newbies who do not yet have this reference list? I left the author a comment and am anxious to get his feedback. Take a quick read through the article – hopefully it strengthens your understanding of what clients are looking for in social media representation.