Many entrepreneurs cannot make the time needed to fully invest in a social media marketing strategy. It takes a great deal of time and patience to make it a success for your business. Having said that many entrepreneurs seek the help of a social media consulting firm that specializes in social media analytics services and solutions.

For the most part the social media consultant you hire can be the online voice of your company. They are people who can be ultimately immersed with your social networks; step up awareness of your brand and, drive traffic to your business site online that will cause a drastic increase in sales.

You need to choose your social media analytics consulting firm carefully. Make sure the following ten questions are asked to your social media consultant before you, partner with people, you don’t know much about; and before you ask them to represent your company through social media.

What success do you observe in your own social networks?

You need to determine that your potential consultants have a solid and active level of online engagement, on both their professional & personal networks. If you don't find that they’re promoting themselves very well, why will they do a job of a higher quality with your business?

Make a survey of the consultant’s social networking pages. Are they prompt in their response to people who are connecting with them? Do they share worthwhile, high-quality content? Does their tweets or status updates full of foul words or pictures? These are aspects you need to know before permitting a consultant to be your representative.

Do you comprehend my niche market?

There are social media consultants that are well-read on a whole variety of varied markets. But there are others who specialize just on one or two. You need to ensure that the consulting firm you hire has a good grasp on what your market is; what are the needs of your target audience; and how to satisfy those needs. Read through some articles or, blog posts they may have recently published related to market trends.

What relationships do you keep with leaders in my niche industry?

You need to partner with a social media consultant who has some relationships in your industry, to help build additional awareness of your products. You may easily check who is following them on Twitter, who they're following, who "likes" them on Facebook; as well as what other people and businesses they are linked to on LinkedIn.

Can you tell me about some of your clients?

You need to be familiar with who a consultant's past and present clients are. It is advised to email them to see what they have to say about the consulting firm’s social media analytics services. It is good to get a third-party perspective, on how well they delivered to each client, so that you can be sure what to expect if you opt to hire them.

Can I review some samples of your work?

Ask the social media analytics consulting firm to give some links that will take you to some, samples of their work, both current and past. Review past campaigns and confirm if they were instrumental in increasing brand exposure and leads. Will the samples be of use with your own audience?

What are your preferred tools for measuring ROI?

Metrics and analytics are some important elements to verifying the work of a social media consultant. You need to go beyond just how many followers, fans, and likes you get from each campaign. You need to look at conversion rates and lead generation.

What do they do to track EdgeRank on Facebook and retweet rates on Twitter? Do they implement the mainstream tools such as Facebook Insights, Google Analytics, Klout? Do they have in place, a custom way of tracking their results?

What kind of ideas do you have for my business?

You cannot expect a prospective candidate to lay all the cards on the table without taking a fee. But they should be ready to give you a peek into what strategies they foresee for your business. They can identify methods to boost interaction, compose Facebook Ads, implement Twitter campaigns or Pinterest contests. You need to find out that they are already churning new ideas out.

What kind of social media do you reckon to be your specialty?

Social media is continuously growing, with new websites racking up success every day. If you are willing to invest extra time on creating a strong Pinterest presence; then the last thing you want is to hire a social media consultant, who only has experience in setting up Facebook accounts.

What will you do during social media crisis?

Sudden crises can occur any time during your social media campaign. You have to be positive that the consultant you work with will be able to handle anything that comes up. Also, how they will avert it from happening in the first place. How will they address the negative posts, tweets, and comments about your business?

What are your fees and can we negotiate?

Does the social media analytics consulting service charge on a per hour basis? By the project? Do they need a retainer and only then provide services? Get all information about what the payment schedule is - monthly, quarterly, weekly. Do they have a late fee charge or levy interest on past-due payments? Do they offer incentives to referrals? Is there a minimum contract period?

The Nutshell

While most businesses may be happy to find someone in-house that uses social media, there is a colossal difference between using these media forms for fun; and using them to procure business for an enterprise. Opposed to wasting time and capital trying to get employees well informed about social media best practices; an entrepreneur should on the contrary turn to a social media analytics consulting firm to fill in knowledge gaps. The role of a social media consultant in online marketing can vary greatly, according to the nature of the business; or product they are marketing. Plus, the audience they are endeavoring to attract.