As I’ve said in an earlier article, getting into the business of social media consultancy is actually the easy part of being in this profession.
All you really need to do to get started is to gradually establish your presence on social media and learn as much as you can about how individuals and businesses can use these platforms to build their brands and market their products and services.
However, if you really want your clients to trust you, you have to show them that, should they choose to sign up for your social media consultancy services, their confidence would be well-placed. And no, that does not mean simply claiming to be an expert, especially if you know you’re not quite there yet.
Don’t be discouraged, though! The road to becoming a pro social media consultant can be made much easier to navigate, provided you have the right mindset, skills, and information on hand. I made a list of the attitudes, knowledge, and skills that I believe an expert social media consultant should possess, as well as why I think they’re important.
The Whys – Attitudes
1. A genuine desire to work in the industry and help your clients
To succeed at being a social media consultant, you have to actually like what you’re doing. Since this line of work revolves around helping brands maximize their social media efforts and yield a higher ROI, this means being invested in making sure that your social media marketing strategy works well for your clients.
There’s a certain sense of satisfaction in knowing that it was your strategy that helped propel your client into the stratosphere — one that you’ll only really feel if you’re not just in it for the money.
2. A willingness to try new approaches and techniques
Much like how social media platforms keep rolling out changes and updates to improve the way they operate, you must also be flexible enough to accommodate new ideas and ways of doing things, even when it seems like your old, tried-and-tested strategies still work. The very nature of technology involves constant upgrading and reconfiguration — and your outlook towards social media marketing strategy development ought to be the same.
3. A willingness to work with a team
A pro social media consultant knows how to cooperate with other specialists on the team, and recognizes that each member of a brand’s marketing team has something valuable to contribute to the brand’s betterment. Think of it as putting the “social” in “social media.”
4. A strict focus on getting results
Pro social media consultants are all about getting the job done. They strictly adhere to the practice of setting metrics and keeping success measurable, and are adept at using tools that help them monitor their progress and reach the objectives they set for their clients.
The Whats – Knowledge
1. Knows about the latest social media tools
Pro social media consultants must be aware of the various social media tools at their disposal. Often, they use a number of tools, and are familiar with the new ones that pop up periodically — everything from what they can do to what they can’t.
2. Has experience in brand-building on social media
This doesn’t even have to mean that you need to have worked with a client in the past — this could refer to your own brand. How did you grow your online following?
What kind of image did you project/are you projecting online? What tools and strategies did you use to get to where you are right now? These are all questions that will ultimately be helpful when you’re handling the professional accounts of your clients.
3. Understands the market
No matter how much of an expert you are about social media itself, that knowledge will be useless if you can’t apply it in trying to attract customers for the brand you’re handling. In order for you to be able to create a strong marketing strategy, you must first know the brand’s audience — what their interests are, what their pain points are, and what you can offer.
4. Has experience in most major social media platforms
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram: all are powerful social media platforms, but none are exactly the same. As a pro social media consultant, it is your job to understand their differences and know their specifics (and how you can use them to boost the brand you’re in charge of).
The Hows – Skills
1. Social media marketing skills
You might be surprised to learn that a lot of self-proclaimed “experts” actually have no idea how marketing and social media relate to one another. To be a pro at this craft means understanding the basics of marketing and knowing how to apply them to social media.
2. Search engine optimization skills
Search engine optimization (SEO) plays a critical role in, well, getting found by your audience. That’s why a good SEO strategy needs to be part of any social media marketing plan; otherwise, all your social media efforts will be for naught, and your clients are unlikely to see the results they’re expecting. Take the time to learn how social media optimization works.
3. Leadership and project management skills
Remember when I said that being a social media consultant is kind of like being the captain of a ship? It’s your input that will basically dictate the direction in which your overall strategy will go, which is why the ability to supervise, navigate, and even improvise (when necessary) is a must.
4. Data analytics skills
How do you measure success? It depends on your objectives. Whether it means increasing your Twitter follower count or getting a healthy amount of engagement on your Facebook posts everyday, metrics will always play a key role — and you need to know how to analyze and interpret the data you have in order to monitor and track your success.
Why a social media consultants job is like a military strategist
Getting your social media act together is comparable to going to war — You need to have the right strategy in motion, and the resources to make it happen.
When you’re a business looking to see results, you’ll likely be relying on an expert strategist to help create a solid battle plan. Thus, social media consultants function like military strategists in this war for the audience’s attention and interest.
Liz Azyan is a digital consultant who helps public organisations and businesses add value to their products and services through smart digital solutions. She has been awarded the Google Fellowship Award for her work and initiative in the arena of technology, politics and social entrepreneurship. She has also been listed on several lists around the web as a top digital expert by her peers and industry leaders.