Top 5 lessons learned in the trenches of social networking for business and social media consulting

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Many business and marketing people keep talking about social media and social marketing and how businesses can get into this new online marketplace, but I have some actual non-theory lessons from ACTUAL consulting on about 12 client projects we have worked on over the last seven months.

Social Networking for business
is hard stuff. You have to be both technical, psychological, sociological, business savvy, marketing savvy, sales savvy, a good communicator, good writer,…… The list goes on. 1 full time employee or college intern handling social media marketing will not cut it I guarantee it.

My TEAM (together everyone achieves more) of Business consultants and I have been doing workshops, tweet ups in Carlsbad, tele-seminars, conference calls, coaching, training, blogging, strategy building, assessments, webinars, and consulting on social media and social networking for business for the last 7 months. (I have been doing various business and technical consulting for about 10 years)

I remember my first blog post on how i predicted that social media and social networking will save small business and STILL stand by that prediction and remember it like it was yesterday. I also remember each and every client experience, where WE went wrong, and what changes we made in our “process” to improve. I must say right off the bat that I could NOT be in this “Social CEO” position with out my twitter network. I learned more on twitter in 2 months from just listening, paying it forward, and helping others achieve what information, resources, or knowledge they cared about which in return they taught me what I needed to know to help formulate Social Networking San Diego. Consider it a PHD in internet marketing from twitter for FREE just 20 days a month on-line till 4am investing my time (video proof here).

I laugh at the colleges now trying to charge thousands of dollars for certificate programs for social media marketing and internet marketing (even Masters Degrees) when all people would have to do is just apply themselves a little bit, spend some time doing internet research, and start LISTENING! Also, we are in a HUGE recession, and colleges are in fact a BUSINESS too trying to stay on the trends and make MORE money off students. But I digress…..

Here are some tips about what to be careful of in the trenches of social media and social networking consulting for businesses:

1. ROI– If they ask you “what will be my ROI”, ask them, “what is your CURRENT ROI on marketing/ advertising?” Tell them to give you a fraction of that (at least 10%) show them some results in the first quarter or six months, and then ask them for a larger budget (if you can perform)

2. Don’t under charge– Your time is valuable, and just because they might not see the REAL value in social media and social networking for business development purposes and lead generation, you still want to attract the clients who have a “perceived value” in social media. This can be hard, but where are you looking??? Our first couple accounts we did FULL SERVICE for less than 1000$/ month AND worked on these accounts probably 80 hours per month. Talk about hustling! And you know what, they left because they didn’t want to “spend the time” in social media because they were too impatient and wanted overnight success. And they felt the training was something an intern could do. Do you really want an intern handling your corporate message and controlling your brand perception online???? Let me stress to you that being in the trenches now for 7 months, this will require your client to commit to 9 months to 1 year to make it worth your time. That is if you provide a comprehensive and holistic approach to social media and social networking for business. This is VERY time consuming and a lot of work I assure you but the BEST practices approach for building a lasting community around your client’s products and services.

3. DON’T DO PAY BY PERFORMANCE– Do you like working for free? I sure as hell don’t, and we tried that and learned NOT to do it again! On a few clients, we agreed to pay by performance model and you know what happen, we worked our A$$ off, did the research, the set-up, got them leads, and they still weren’t happy. (we don’t work for the company, we get you leads, its up to you to close your deals, we are not your sales team) I would advise AGAINST bartering as well, tried that too :)

4. Social Media and Social Networking is not for EVERY client– Every business is different so be sure you analyze the prospect in depth BEFORE taking them on as a client. If they have a 4 year old website, why would we want to drive traffic to it? So we recommended a new website FIRST, then we will drive the traffic. (they thought they could get a good site done for 500$ so I said be my guest, then they came back for a full word press site from us)

5. Make your deliverables clear– Make sure you specify where the hours will be allocated for the project so the client is clear about what THEY will bring to the table, and what YOU will bring. We ask our clients to commit to X amount of training per month, X amount of content submissions, articles, etc.

I hope this helps clarify what life has been like for the non-theory preaching social media enthusiasts (I used to be one too, and still am a little, but businesses need help so we are rolling up our sleeves and helping what businesses we can, and who have the budget of course)

Any thoughts on your experiences? I know we have many readers who are in this industry, so feel free to leave some insight or feedback on your experiences in the trenches of social media consulting,
CEO Social Networking San Diego
Have any questions- hit me up on the G-Voice 760 – 576 – GOLF oh yeah!!

P.S. Get a copy of “Social Media Survival Guide for Business” The FAST TRACK
Click Here to order: (if you have time to read it) But this will be a helpful guide for you and your business as you journey into Social Media and Social Networking for Business. Enjoy

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4 Responses to “Top 5 lessons learned in the trenches of social networking for business and social media consulting”

  1. Justin Parks says:

    An interesting read Justin, especially, as you rightly point out it, comes from real experience in the business environment and not just theoretical spin or suggestion.

    Glad to see you are settling on a solid process and im 100% sure clients and customers will see much more benefit and value from this approach.

  2. Angela Hill says:

    Interesting insight, Justin. I would be curious to hear how your perspective has changed 6 months later and if there are any additional trends you see in the marketplace?

    As important as it is for a client to commit to a long-term campaign, the problem with our industry is that there are so many vendors snatching up these clients and treating them badly so that their perception is that we are all the same. Then, they are truly uncomfortable when they meet someone with credibility who makes the same promises but can actually deliver.

    We have found much more success offering a 6 month campaign where we demonstrate success and then grow into a more complex, longer relationship by delivering value and proving ROI based on agreed upon metrics.

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