November 29, 2011 | By:

Buyer Beware: Know Who’s Representing You

Social media is still a young field, and many individuals and companies go starry-eyed at the idea of “going viral” on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, and its promise of instant name recognition and sales.

The problem with having stars in your eyes is that they may block your vision of reality. The reality is that with everyone on the Internet shouting at once, it’s tough work to get your voice heard, even with strong creative content. It still requires the right message at the right time– and being seen by the right people.

There are a lot of companies out there that will claim to offer you a quick and easy shortcut, but be sure to do your homework before you hire them: their techniques may bump up against the various network’s rules, and if they cross a line you might find your accounts being suspended for days or weeks while each network evaluates the validity of your account. Even worse, you could incur the wrath of the mighty Google and see your sites taken out of their search results until you can convince them of your legitimacy.

When evaluating a company that offers to help your social media efforts, here are some warning signs to look for:

Promises of instant results.
Even Skittles had to build its way up to 19 million “Likes” on Facebook, and they’re a long-standing brand with immense name recognition (and a great, original content strategy). If a company wants you to pay for thousands of immediate follows, be aware that those followers are probably not “quality” (if they’re even real people), and that the company’s methods may or may not be within social media networks’ rules.

No discussion of content strategy.
The key component to any online presence is content, whether it’s a 300-word blog post or a 140-character tweet. If the company you’re talking to promises to get you more Likes without talking about what kind of content they will post on your behalf, they are probably taking a shortcut that will not land you with quality social media followers.

Ignorance of the rules.
If the service you’re talking to offers microsites (those awful landing pages that consist of nothing but links to a particular site) and doesn’t know or doesn’t tell you that such tactics can get your company de-indexed by Google, they’re probably not someone you want to trust with your company’s reputation and standing.

It seems too good to be true.
If it seems so, it probably is.

When vetting, be sure to ask about the company’s past clients and do due diligence by checking those clients’ pages. Make sure that they’re engaging directly with users and that the content is solid and appropriate for the client’s business, not generic. Remember, you’re in business for the long haul and your social media strategy should be like any part of your business plan: you have to give it time and effort (yours or a specialist’s) in order for it to pay off!

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