After being in the social media world for the past 15 years we’ve seen everything you can imagine, and this post touches on some of the most common questions we’ve been asked around social media consulting ranging from what companies should look for when hiring a consultant to helping up-and-coming social media consultants understand the space better.
The below questions are some of the first that came to mind and we’re launching a new series of content around this aimed at helping the next generation of social media ninjas find their paths.
How do I become a social media consultant?
This is a question I’ve been asked hundreds of times and my response has always been the same: Asking why they want to be a consultant in the first place. And most importantly, what makes them qualified now to guide others. The intention isn’t to be harsh, but guide people on a trajectory where they can hone in on what they’re truly good at while realizing the next steps they need to take to get to where they want to be.
What can I study in school to be a social media specialist?
In the past before social media took off there weren’t courses in school aimed at priming students for the future, which was unfortunate, and nowadays there are but those classes aren’t the golden ticket to making you successful.
Think about the fundamentals: Even though English courses are boring (at least they were to me) the act of doing the assignments and learning, improving and evolving as a writer over time is worth its weight in gold. Putting social media aside, being a good writer applies to everything you do in your life whether it’s emails, text messages, replies on Instagram, etc. so the work you put in early on continues to add value.
And aside from the language aspect of the equation, also focus on creativity – take courses in photography/videography, etc. – and don’t be afraid to run tests. I look at each day as a science experiment.
Do you need to get a degree to be a consultant?
Over the years my opinion on college degrees has changed and today it comes down to the saying “the proof is in the pudding.” Also, like my dad always said to me when I’d mention wild ideas with nothing to back it up: “Don’t tell me what you’re going to do, show me what you’ve done.” Essentially, stop talking about it and do it.
And once you execute on your vision you can then rely on your experience/expertise to guide companies regardless of whether you have a PhD in art history, etc. It’s the weird intersections in life that take us on the next journeys.
What skills do you need to be a social media consultant?
Of all the questions we get this is in the top 3, but also the easiest to answer. First and foremost, you have to be a social kinda person – that’s what social media is about after all.
Secondly, touching on what I mentioned above, you have to understand the big picture and be able to piece things together across a variety of mediums (Instagram, Twitter, etc.), blog posts, press releases, working with the communications and legal teams, and the list goes on.
Being a good person goes a long way. Don’t forget that.
How much do social media consultants charge per month?
The costs for social media consultants are all over the place nowadays, and the hourly rates or monthly retainers are highly dependent on what’s being delivered. Is the consultant jumping on a call for a couple hours per week or actually becoming a part of your team and guiding a real transformation?
What is the highest paid consultant?
Many enterprise companies hire consulting firms with monthly retainers ranging from $5k per month to $500k or more depending on the objectives and scale, though when looking at the hourly rate of social media consultants, social media expert witnesses come out on top. But why?
It’s because they’ve put in the work, practiced the lessons I outlined above and risen to a place where they have the experience and peer recognition to see through complex problems and provide solutions that not many others can.
Looking at the classic supply and demand model, a doctor may charge $500 to $800 per hour to prepare expert witness testimony and fortunately there are a ton of amazing doctors throughout the world, but when it comes to finding true experts in the social media sphere the option pool becomes much smaller; and therefore demands a premium.
Or hourly rate for expert witness testimony in high-profile cases we handled in the past was $1,250/hr and that’s only because we bring something unique to the table.
Will social media consulting make you happy?
The moral of the story is that social media consulting isn’t for everyone, but after reading this post if it’s something you’re still passionate about I think you should follow the path.