Best Practices

5 Ways To Screen Your Dealers Next Social Media Consultant

The recent post on the DealerRefresh forums about Social Media Gurus and scams led to the idea that some information might be helpful to dealers in deciding who to hire and trust.

Here are some questions to consider:

How can you research a company or consultant when they claim to be social media gurus?

What’s considered authentic in terms of social media consulting for your dealership?

These are justifiable questions, that deserve to be answered with examples of work and real results. It’s difficult however, for a company who isn’t quite clear on the examples they’ve been provided to make a confident decision on whether they’re hiring a quality provider.

Lets dive in and discuss five ways you can do some due diligence when selecting a high quality social media provider.

1. Client List

The first thing you should look at is their current and past clients. If the provider is reputable, they should provide you with as much information about what they are doing and what they’ve done for clients in the past. Ask them for some specific examples and reports where they’ve blown away their clients with results. Ask them for some popular posts they’ve done, or ways that they’ve engaged on Twitter. You should be able to sense whether they have the passion to work with you on that same level, or if they are a large agency, whether you’ll get the level of attention this work requires. Social media for your dealership is extremely time sensitive, so immediate action is often necessary, be sure to ask about their response time to urgent issues.

2. Knowledge

You’re hiring a provider to leverage their knowledge and to apply that skill and knowledge to your marketing initiatives. Often times you will find that a number of different tasks may be needed to announce an upcoming event that your dealership is promoting, and its good if they have the broad range of skills to help you develop the landing pages, registration, emailing, integration of the page on your site, SEO, socially spreading the message, images, videos, etc. The ability for your provider to understand and be willing to help you handle all of these things will enable you to be less involved with the technical requirements of the events and to me more focused on what, where, and when the event will take place.

3. Who’s In Their Network

High quality providers will leverage their network when needed to help you. If you’re considering a provider that isn’t well known then you could be missing out on finding one that has built a solid network. Request that they connect with you on LinkedIn so you can look over their network. If they do not have connections with influential or notable people then it could mean that they aren’t taking their work very seriously. Building relationships with recognized and successful bloggers, founders of internet companies, venture capitalists, and others in interesting positions means that they have been highly invested in building relationships – which is the core of what social media is about.

4. Statistics = Warning Sign

If you get an offer that is promising your dealership “x” number of anything, Twitter followers, links to your website, or just about anything that sounds outrageous, just ignore them. Trustworthy providers won’t try to wow you with numbers, because the real value comes from building quality relationships. Ask them for a few examples of what they consider to be reputable sites that have linked to them. If these are genuine links, meaning they were not placed in profile by themselves or a site they built themselves, than consider how they earned the link and ask if you can expect that type of commitment. Almost always it requires that they’ve contributed something of great quality, and as a result they got a link for the work.

Links are the most important thing you can get that will benefit you from an SEO standpoint, and if it’s a site that anyone can buy a link or place a link then it’s not as valuable and could potentially harm your rankings.

5. Influencers

In order to be successful as a blogger, or social media consultant, you must have the ability to become influential. Ask them for examples of popular sites where they’ve contributed meaningful information, or if they’ve built any websites that allowed others to contribute information. Finding an influencer that will do social media on your behalf is not going to come cheap, this person is typically an entrepreneur or a blogger that has built a substantial network. If you aren’t getting the advantage of having someone who’s done this type of work for themselves, then it’s unlikely that they will know what works and what doesn’t. If you aren’t sure, ask if they’d be willing to come meet you in person, as this is a great way to find out whether you trust and believe they will be able to deliver.

Hopefully these 5 suggestions help you screen some of your candidates on hiring the right social media firm for your dealership. There are clearly some things that I’ve left out, but these are some of what I believe to be true tests of ones ability to perform for your dealership.

If you have any questions about these suggestions or would like to share some experiences or opinions about what I’ve stated, please do so in the comments.

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    Jeff Kershner
  • August 12, 2010
Scott, thanks for the article. No doubt dealers need to be careful. Social Media services can be the next snake oil that SEO services turned into a few years back. You bring to light some key elements of making sure you have the right people or service if your dealer plans to get into social media.
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    Eric Miltsch
  • August 15, 2010

Great article. You put your heart into this one; what better proof for someone considering a vendor than being able to pull out your own article telling it like it is...

For anyone else reading this & needing assistance - keep Scott at the top of your short list of candidates.
Thanks! It really is a tremendous amount of work, but until dealers can hire on and train community managers and provide them the tools then I am more than happy to help!

Aside from that though, I'm also happy to share as much about what I do with anyone who cares to learn about it. Searching around online will help discover some stuff but it's having a process and order of importance that is a critical preparatory exercise.

For example, if your dealership starts getting some meaningful conversations in social media the worst thing you can do is ignore them and not respond, because they will go to places that engage with them.

It's not about the content, the content just serves as a reason to engage and discuss, it's the quality of the conversation that you really want and good things will follow.