How to Select a Social Media Agency or Consultant

Social media agencies and consultants insist that following your customers into social spaces is a smart idea. Yet it’s actually an incomplete idea, unless you have a clear means to capture demand and convert it to sales. So, it pays to make sure you have a list of specific interview questions in hand when choosing a social media agency or consultant. That’s why I’m giving you some gems that really work.

Social media agencies and consultants insist that following your customers into social spaces is a smart idea. Yet it’s actually an incomplete idea, unless you have a clear means to capture demand and convert it to sales. So, it pays to make sure you have a list of specific interview questions in hand when choosing a social media agency or consultant. That’s why I’m giving you some gems that really work.

Remember, the answer to selling more with social media is this: Starting conversations that are worth having and conversing in ways that generate questions that you have answers to. The rest is occasionally (when relevant) connecting those answers to your products/services. This is how to generate customer inquiries using social media. Your agency, freelance provider (or employee) must grasp and practice this. Let’s find out how to make sure they do.

Question Your Consultants
Overzealous “digital rock star gurus” say the social Web has revolutionized everything. We’re told to listen to and engage with customers. But what do we do with what we hear … and when does engaging connect to sales? Does it at all? As David Ogilvy himself reminded marketers decades ago “we sell or else!”

The nature of your relationship with social media agencies and consultants should be to question. Why? Because so many are questionable in terms of the results (or lack there of) they deliver!

Be Sure They’re Producing Behavior
“You don’t sell someone something by engagement, conversation and relationship. You create engagement, conversation and relationships by selling them something,” says Bob Hoffman, (“The Ad Contrarian”) CEO, Hoffman Lewis.

Read that again and notice how it flies in the face of what we’re being told to do by most social media agencies and consultants. Notice how logical this simple truth is.

Agencies and consultants that are moving the needle are reaching beyond attracting customers for clients. They’re generating leads using three practical success principles. They’re aligning social marketing with sales by:

  • Solving customers problems with social media like Facebook
  • Producing behavior by designing each social interaction to produce it—always, without fail
  • Translating needs of customers and using insights to create more behavior, more leads/sales

It’s important to consider the current social media marketing activities of the agency or freelancer you’ll hire. Everything they’re doing to “join the conversation” (tweeting, blogging, posting updates on Facebook) must be talking with customers, not at them. They must be truly interacting. Making social marketing produce behavior is the first step. Your agency needs to understand what a call to action is and practice this approach.

Ask Tough Questions
Most importantly, press your marketing consultants, ad agency reps and employees to answer business questions first. Ask them to do it without using words like traffic, engagement or buzz. Make them squirm.
In the end you should be getting answers to the following questions:

  • Is the agency hiring employees based mostly on tactical skills or ability to create tangible results?
  • Does the agency ask the right questions of us? And are they embracing or avoiding our questions?
  • When they discuss successful client cases (in their past) are they interacting with customers intimately—or are the stories more about posting and tweeting into the ether?
  • If they’re interacting with customers/prospects is it organized and purpose-driven? Are their tactics working in harmony or apart from (competing with) each other?
  • What actionable information does each customer interaction produce and where does that information go?
  • What’s done with it (or not)? Do interactions produce actionable information? Do they connect to a lead nurturing or follow-up process?
  • Are their tactics connecting with a strategy that pushes customers down the sales funnel using the collected information?

Social media marketing is a necessary component of being online. But merely “being on Facebook and Twitter” won’t generate leads and convert sales unless you hire people who are focused on purpose-drive social media campaigns. Be sure to ask the tough questions when interviewing them. Good luck!

What Mom’s Thinking About Back-to-School Shopping

If you’re in online marketing today, you’re probably interested in how moms are shopping online, right?

If you’re in online marketing today, you’re probably interested in how moms are shopping online, right?

Moms have become a force to be reckoned with. More than 34 million are online — participating in social networking, researching products, making purchases and absorbing as much information as possible — according to a June 2009 report from eMarketer. And most marketers realize that mothers are usually the key decision makers for family purchases. The activities they participate in across the web influence household purchases greatly.

As a mother myself, I can tell you that I pull out all the stops when it comes to spending money on my kids, regardless of how tough the times may be. So the back-to-school market in particular can take on even greater value during down times like these.

So, what are moms thinking about back-to-school shopping? Despite the down economy, few plan to spend less than they did last year on back-to-school purchases, according to a survey of 1,400 mothers of school-age children across the country conducted by Mom Central Consulting, a Newton, Mass.-based social media agency that focuses on marketing to moms.

Findings from the study include the following:
* While 91 percent of moms worry about the expense of back-to-school shopping, only 17 percent anticipate spending less than they did in 2008. Nearly 50 percent anticipate spending much more than last year.
* 40 percent of moms doubt they’ll meet their kids’ expectations in order to save money; 38 percent expect to sacrifice by shopping generic over brand names.
* 92 percent of moms plan to save money by looking for special offers, both offline and online; 80 percent will use coupons, and 74 percent will reuse items from previous years.
* 32 percent of moms also expressed concern over how to balance their kids’ expectations and desires with today’s fiscal realities.

As a result, many moms will pursue shopping strategies like buying in bulk (46 percent) and making purchases at discount retailers like Wal-Mart (61 percent) and Target (57 percent).

Are you doing anything special to reach online moms during this back-to-school season? If so, let us know by posting a comment here.

What Mom’s Thinking About Back-to-School Shopping

If you’re in online marketing today, you’re probably interested in how moms are shopping online, right?

If you’re in online marketing today, you’re probably interested in how moms are shopping online, right?

Moms have become a force to be reckoned with. More than 34 million are online — participating in social networking, researching products, making purchases and absorbing as much information as possible — according to a June 2009 report from eMarketer. And most marketers realize that mothers are usually the key decision makers for family purchases. The activities they participate in across the web influence household purchases greatly.

So, what are moms thinking about back-to-school shopping? Despite the down economy, few plan to spend less than they did last year on back-to-school purchases, according to a survey of 1,400 mothers of school-age children across the country conducted by Mom Central Consulting, a Newton, Mass.-based social media agency that focuses on marketing to moms.

Findings from the study include the following:
* While 91 percent of moms worry about the expense of back-to-school shopping, only 17 percent anticipate spending less than they did in 2008. Nearly 50 percent anticipate spending much more than last year.
* 40 percent of moms doubt they’ll meet their kids’ expectations in order to save money; 38 percent expect to sacrifice by shopping generic over brand names.
* 92 percent of moms plan to save money by looking for special offers, both offline and online; 80 percent will use coupons, and 74 percent will reuse items from previous years.
* 32 percent of moms also expressed concern over how to balance their kids’ expectations and desires with today’s fiscal realities.

As a result, many moms will pursue shopping strategies like buying in bulk (46 percent) and making purchases at discount retailers like Wal-Mart (61 percent) and Target (57 percent).

Are you doing anything special to reach online moms during this back-to-school season? If so, let us know by posting a comment here.