On Beyond Snake Oil

Say all you want about people who make a living off of consulting in social media – like any industry where there is buzz, there will be snake oil salesmen who are trying to take advantage of the trend.  A Google search on “social media snake oil” returns over 187,000 results.  There are great posts about how you should beware the snake oil salesman right along side excellent posts defending the folks who are legitimate and hard working on behalf of their clients in the business.  While there will never be a shortage of folks trying to take advantage, it’s time that companies treat finding a partner to help in social media like they would with any other partnership.

Thanks to iMediaConnection.com for publishing my first article submission there this week, called 7 Tips for Choosing a Social Media Provider.  As the services industry changes in this space, evolving models of co-opetition will come and go and analysts will attempt to capture the changes going on in social media services.  What’s clear to me though, is that companies need to evaluate the following when making a decision on how and where to get help to infuse social media into their marketing or other business tactics:

  1. Industry experience of the provider
  2. Your company’s current agency ecosystem
  3. Internal resource support and sponsorship
  4. Social media integration
  5. Social media maturity of the company
  6. Business results achieved by the provider
  7. Provider’s partnership ecosystem

These factors provide a much broader view on how companies need to evolve their thinking to selecting a business partner in this space.  What did I miss?  For more thoughts on what each one means, please see the post on iMedia and let me know what you think here in the comments.

Photo credit: caseymfox via Flickr, with apologies to Dr. Seuss

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  • While arguably every point you list here is crucial, one I’ve smacked up against is #6, expectations of the business results of integrating SM. I’ve seen small businesses who appreciate SM for the opportunity it provides to gain a toehold with audiences, sharing and soliciting content that benefits the growing community. And I’ve seen small businesses which apply a strict PPC mindset (for every $ spent there must be an immediate and quantifiable positive outcome), expecting short-term results from what I believe is a long-term endeavor. What I’m basically saying is that expectations can vary wildly and while it sounds obvious to say “both parties need to agree on deliverables,” I’ve found that there’s always underlying currents, personal agendas, competing priorities and general misapprehensions about the nature of SM that can throw provider and business for a major loop.

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