I had coffee this morning with a local small business owner interested in learning more about how to use social media for business. The first thing I did was search on his name, and his business website ranked number three in my Google search. I was impressed that his website has a blog, which gives him the opportunity to practice inbound marketing, but his most recent blog post was April 2011.
He asked for my advice about a social media agency he was considering hiring to do some work for him. I Googled the agency and explained my concerns. The advice I gave him and always give others is in line with Michael Brito’s counsel from his book Smart Business, Social Business:
If an agency truly is a social media agency, examining the website closely should validate it. Are they blogging? Using Twitter? Does their content make any sense? Is their website optimized with social functionality with social bookmarks, Twitter, and Facebook? Simple observations such as these help narrow the focus and separate social media agencies from ones who just add social media as an add-on service. There is an important distinction between the two, because agencies that are socially proficient should be very active on Twitter, blogging, and also have some level of Facebook presence. (pp. 136-137).
These criteria are why I never hesitate to recommend The Abbi Agency to folks here in Reno. This agency practices every solution they sell, and Abbi Whitaker leads the way for her team by contributing blog posts and running her own twitter account and professionally personal Facebook page. She employs folks like Constance Aguilar and Nicole Rose Dion. – real digital citizens. Abbi gets it because she is personally immersed in it.
Google is a learning machine. It knows the people in your market who know what they are doing because those folks have taught Google that they understand social business. Ask your friends for advice, then always consult Google.