There appears to be no shortage of consultants claiming to be “social media gurus.” Many firms hire consultants who have experience in their industry. The premise is if a consultant has experience in my industry then they should understand our issues. But do they understand and have a track record of success and experience with social media?
A consultant who is familiar with your business understands the “constraints” of your business and what problems the customer faces from an industry perspective. However, not having in-depth experience with the dynamics and technologies that facilitate “socialutions” many firms try to fit old methods into new dynamics. It simply doesn’t work.
Consultants have experience in solving problems by applying methods grounded in knowledge. Knowledge of your business, your market and relative issues was the old benchmark for choosing a consulting firm. Consultants publish papers, case studies and position themselves as both understanding and having experience in solving common problems for business. Sometimes being too close to a problem is. in fact. part of the problem especially if a new market dynamic is not understood. Do they understand and have experience with social media?
Rather than using innovative thinking some consultants have and apply “canned answers” as to what has worked for others. Every company has its unique “systemic” attributes. Issues such as culture, size, demographics, market dynamics, human resources, and technonology, etc. all create a combined definition of “systemic attributes.” Very few companies have the same “systemic attributes.” The systemic impacts of social media reengineers any and all business processes and related attributes.
Many consultants suggest that when it comes to social media “benchmarking against the best” is what a company should do. While learning what the best do is a sound proclamation for learning, copying what the “best in class” do may not be a sound principle for social media or for that particular company. Because the use of social media is new and the dynamics and technology changes daily benchmarks are useless and the only best practice is how to think.
The Question of Understanding & Experience
A lot of people can tell you how a technology works and how social media can benefit your business. However, few can tell you the why and what works for your business unless they can share what they have learned from experience and remain current as social media platforms, tools, and technology evolve on a daily basis.
Before hiring a consultant ask them a few questions:
- What is your working definition of social media?
- How many different networks do you use?
- How many blog posts have you written?
- How many different “social tools” have you used?
- How do you stay current in this space?
- What have these experiences taught you?
- What understanding have you gained?
- What is the wisdom of Socialutions?
Experience by itself teaches nothing without gaining understanding. Understanding leads to knowledge and knowledge leads to wisdom.
What say you?