Facebook Posting Insight

Facebook Posting Techniques that Really Work

There’s a fine line between a scientific approach to marketing on Facebook and a haphazard shotgun approach. For those of you who prefer not to “point and shoot,” a new study from a San Francisco-based social media strategy firm offers an in-depth analysis of the top 20,000 Facebook Pages and up to a quarter million posts in an effort to determine the most useful posting techniques.

In the just-released report called Engagement and Interaction: A Scientific Approach to Facebook Marketing (link opens a PDF file), Momentus Media. provides answers to the seven most frequently asked questions by Facebook page administrators:

  1. When’s the best time to post? While weekends and off-peak hours from 2pm to 5am are the times when page admins are least likely to add a new post, those are the posts that receive the highest interaction rates. Thursdays, on the other hand, shoulder the highest number of postings during the week and the lowest interaction rate. And since a high level of postings results in a lower interaction rate from users, it only stands to reason that posting in off-peak hours means you’ll gain more interaction from fans.
  2. How many times should I post per day? You’d think too many posts would offend your followers but the report suggests frequent posting increases interaction. As you might suspect, fewer posts reduce the chances users will see them. And while unsubscribe rates go up after three posts per day, they level off at higher frequencies. The secret is to find that balance between optimizing interaction and managing unsubscribes, which is going to be different for every business.
  3. What type of content elicits the most interaction? By far, photos generate the highest interaction rate for the six varieties of content, with status updates ranking No. 2. Others — in descending order — include video, music and links. The fact that links are at the bottom is interesting, considering they are posted the most often. Photos rank at the top because they’re visual, easy to digest and they elicit emotion.
  4. Should I ask fans to Like or Comment on my posts? Absolutely. Just by taking advantage of a “Like” call to action boosts your interaction rate by 216 percent. Momentus Media analyzed 49,266 Page posts, comparing interaction rates for posts with “Like” and “Comment” calls to action and those without. And while only 1.3 percent of status messages had a call to action attached, those who used “Like” or “Comment” showed a huge boost in interaction rates.
  5. Should I ask my fans questions? You’d think that by asking questions you’d get a better interaction rate, but such is not the case. However, Facebook page admins looking to achieve the highest comment rate should pose questions and then directly ask for fans to reply with comments.
  6. How long should my status messages be? According to this study, size does matter. While there’s a higher posting rate for shorter posts (especially those that stay within the 140-character limit for cross-posting purposes on both Twitter and Facebook), interaction increases as the length of the status message increases.
  7. How long do my messages remain in the Newsfeed? In the first hour of a Facebook status update, half of the users who will click on the post will have done so, with 90 percent of the clicks occurring within nine hours of the post going live.

Souce: Entrepreneur website

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When Are Facebook Users Most Active?

We know that users are spending increasing amounts of time online on social networks likeFacebook, but when exactly are users the most active? Social media management companyVitrue just released a study that identifies the days and hours users are most active on the Facebook channels maintained by companies and brands.

For the study, Vitrue analyzed Facebook post data from August 10, 2007 to October 10, 2010 from more than 1,500 brand streams — more than 1.64 million posts and 7.56 million comments in all. Shares and “likes” were not included in the study.

Here are some of the big takeaways:

  • The three biggest usage spikes tend to occur on weekdays at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. ET.
  • The biggest spike occurs at 3:00 p.m. ET on weekdays.
  • Weekday usage is pretty steady, however Wednesday at 3:00 pm ET is consistently the busiest period.
  • Fans are less active on Sunday compared to all other days of the week.

 

Morning Posts Are More Effective

Although most posts and comments appear around 3:00 p.m. ET, posts published in the morning tend to perform better than those published in the afternoon.

 

Vitrue’s data indicates that morning brand posts are 39.7% more effective in terms of user engagement than those published in the afternoon.

Additionally, the top of the hour (:0 to :15 minutes) tend to see more interaction than other parts of the hour. The second half of the hour (:30 to :45 minutes) is the second most popular time for interaction.

 

This makes sense if you think about how meetings and breaks are scheduled. A quick check on Facebook before heading into another meeting or task might be more likely to happen at the top of an hour than in the middle or toward the end.

Why This Matters

Ultimately, the goal for brands on Facebook is to be able to engage with their customers or potential customers and to promote a message. Last month, we looked at a study that broke down how users interact with brands on Facebook.

 

In that post, Mashable‘s Adam Ostrow noted, “… 65% of Facebook users only access the site when they’re not at work or school — typically early morning or evening. That means that if you’re making social media only a part of a 9 to 5 work day, you might be missing out on connecting with consumers during the times they’re likely to be online.”

Vitrue’s findings match that sentiment. Knowing when users are engaging and interacting with your page can be crucial to getting the most effective message across.

To be clear, this data is going to continue to shift as usage patterns shift. There is more to knowing when users are active to designating a publishing schedule. After all, if all publishers pushed out content at the same time, users would be overwhelmed and the net gain might disappear.

Still, following these type of usage patterns is an important part of maximizing the way brands and users can communicate.

Source: Mashable website

The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Marketing

Source: http://www.copyblogger.com/ultimate-facebook/

by 

I’ve just finished writing Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies with two fabulous co-authors (Amy Porterfield and Phyllis Khare) and we’ve been neck-deep in Facebook for the last 9 months.

Even Copyblogger is on Facebook now. Do you have your Facebook Page yet?

For a platform that’s used by hundreds of millions of people, Facebook can be kind of … complicated. Particularly if you use it for business. So let’s get you some specific how-to advice so you can get rolling without getting frustrated.

So how do you get your Page started? And how do you get more people to Like your Page? What are the best ways to use Facebook and how can you measure your progress?

The questions go on and on, and I’m about to answer A LOT of them, with a little help from some friends.

It’s all here, eat up …

Gimme the big picture …

Facebook 101: A Simple Guide to Understanding When & How to Use Basic Features
On Search Engine Land, Greg Finn breaks down the different aspects of Facebook such as Profiles, Groups, Pages, Places, and Events.

Setting up your Facebook Account

Facebook Tutorial: How to Create a Facebook Profile
All Facebook walks you through the basic steps to create your Facebook Account. Some of the screen shots are out of date, but that’s to be expected … you will have to get used to Facebook changing its screens every couple of weeks.

Facebook 101 for Business: Your Complete Guide
Mari Smith gets you started with reviewing your profile, making a friends list, and adjusting your privacy settings. Then she dives into looking at Facebook Pages. This is a great overview post onSocial Media Examiner.

Facebook Privacy and Security

How to Protect Your Privacy with Facebook’s New Privacy Settings in 17 Easy Steps
Sara Ines Calderon provides a great overview of some of the latest Privacy settings on Inside Facebook. Make sure you control who can see your personal information.

Set up “Login Approvals” 2-step account security on Facebook?
Concerned about someone swiping your password while you are surfing Facebook at Starbucks?Ask Dave Taylor outlines how to use Facebook’s login approvals, which require an additional numeric code only when you try to log in to your account from a computer that Facebook’s never seen you use before.

Why Use Facebook for Business?

11 Mind-Blowing Reasons Your Company Needs Facebook
Jay Baer of Convince and Convert will blow your mind … in general and in this post. Some of the numbers are a little out-of-date, but that just means the reasons have become more mind-blowing.

Top 10 Reasons You Should Have a Fan Page
Kim Garst provides some compelling numbers and reasons why your business should have a Fan Page.

R.I.P. 3 Ways Facebook is Killing Your Website
Another great post by Jay Baer where he drives home the need for Facebook. But be careful, as he says, and don’t become what Copyblogger calls a “digital sharecropper” — don’t build your future on rented land.

Setting up your Facebook Page

20 Examples of Great Facebook Pages
If you are looking for inspiration, Hubspot provides plenty with these Facebook Pages. These are big brands with big budgets, but it doesn’t hurt to take a look.

How to Set Up a Facebook Page
Laura Drell takes you by the hand and leads you through the Page set up process on the American Express Open Forum. You will find lots of good screenshots so that you know you are on the right track.

How to Build the Perfect Facebook Fan Page, 2011 Edition
Tim Ware does an excellent job of showing all the new features you can use with Facebook Pages in his guest post on techipedia.

How To Set Up The Vanity Url For Your Facebook Fan Page
Once you get 25 “Likes” on your Facebook Page, you need to go out and grab a custom URL for your Facebook Page. Your URL will be easier to remember, branded to your company, and much shorter! Nicole Simone of Cruel to Be Kind shows you how.

Getting People to Like Your Page

21 Creative Ways To Increase Your Facebook Fanbase
Mari Smith gives some smart ways to increase your Likes on Social Media Examiner.

Business 101: How to Get People to LIKE You – Tips on Building Your Facebook Fan Base
In this post on MOMeo Magazine, I give you seven tips on how to increase your Likers (or Fans … just what is a Liker anyway?).

How to Get More Likes For Your Facebook Page (The Easy Way!)
Dave Charest shares a quick thing you can do to make it easier for your Facebook Friends to like your page.

10 simple ways to grow your Facebook Page
Rob Dickens covers some organic ways to grow your page so you aren’t your only Liker.

Disturbing trend: big brands pimping Facebook “Likes”
B.L. Ochman gives us an alternate view of forcing the “Like” by offering an incentive. Great food for thought.

Why I Don’t Like Your Brand on Facebook
My favorite quote from this guest post by Andrew Blakeley on Brian Solis’ blog is: “This morning my yoghurt told me to find it on Facebook. It didn’t tell me why, it just told me to find it. Why on Earth would I want to find a yoghurt on Facebook? It’s a yoghurt!” Give people a reason to Like you.

Setting up a Welcome Page

How To Build A Facebook Landing Page With iFrames
Francisco Rosales from Social Mouths takes you by the hand to help you create your very own Facebook iFrame application. This is not for the faint of heart, since you will have to become a verified Facebook Developer and design your own web page. Don’t worry, though … Francisco makes it easy.

Tutorial: Add an iFrame Application to your Facebook Fan Page – 2011 Edition
Tim Ware at HyperArts is a great resource if you are going to build your own iFrame Application. Not only that, he has a very nice easy iFrame application called TabPress if you don’t want to build your own.

How to Make a Custom Facebook Page Tab With Iframes 
If you need more reference material on how to create your own Facebook iFrame Application, Kim Woodbridge of (Anti) Social Development also takes you through the steps.

How to Add the Wildfire iFrame Application to Your Facebook Page
If you don’t want to create a custom application yourself for your Welcome Page, there are lots of third-party applications that make adding a Welcome Page easy. All you need is some graphics and you can have a custom page installed in minutes. I show you how in this post.

3 Tools to Create New Facebook iFrame Pages 
Paul Chaney of Practical eCommerce covers three of my favorite third-party iFrame applications: Wildfire, Involver and Static HTML: iframe tabs. All very easy to use and allow either a graphic or HTML code to create your Welcome Page.

Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups vs. Facebook Pages – Which Is Best?
Great post by Mari Smith on the differences between using a Facebook Group for your business or a Facebook Page. She suggests using both, but I believe the Facebook Page is the better choice if you are going to pick one. Facebook Groups are nice for some things but the Page has more advantages.

New Facebook Groups Could Be Big for Business
How can you use Groups for business? John Jantsch at Duct Tape Marketing gives you some ideas.

Facebook Events

HOW TO: Organize an Event on Facebook
Creating a Facebook Event can be a great way to get the word out about your open house, sale, book signing or other business event. Josh Catone takes you through the steps. Note that the Message guests feature is not available now when you create your event on your Facebook Page.

Creating the Perfect Facebook Event — Part One
When, What and Where are some of the basics that Alex Smith covers in this post.

Creating the perfect Facebook event — Part Two
More info and how to use the invitations are covered in part two of Alex Smith’s post.

Six Ways To Effectively Promote Events on Facebook — Case Study
Don’t stop at just creating a Facebook Event. Mari Smith gives other ways to use Facebook to promote it, such as share buttons, comment plugins, and more.

Facebook Lets Users Check In to Events via the Touch Site, Soon the iPhone
Combine the Facebook Place “check-in” concept with your event to draw more attention to your event. Josh Constine gives you the low-down on Inside Facebook.

10 Facebook Events Gone Wrong
Just be careful when you create your event that you are prepared for the viral nature of Facebook. Julius Solaris outlines 10 Facebook disasters. Most of them involved free booze.

Facebook Mobile with Places and Deals

New Data: 33% of Facebook Posting is Mobile
Dan Zarrella is a social media scientist. I don’t know if he’s mad, but he sure has good data. Facebook Mobile usage is increasing, which is a good reason to use Places and Deals to your advantage.

A Field Guide to Using Facebook Places
If you have an actual physical storefront, you may want to consider setting up a Facebook Place where people can check in. Mashable gives you the big picture.

Facebook Deals Review
Facebook Deals were touted as the “Groupon-killer” by many blogs and news outlets when Facebook officially launched the Deals service in April. So far, so good … for Groupon. But don’t count Deals out; Ignite Social Media shows what Deals look like and where they live on Facebook.

Introducing Deals
Facebook’s own blog gives a very good overview of how to use the new Deals features.

Adding Facebook Applications

Top 75 Apps for Enhancing Your Facebook Page
In this post on Social Media Examiner, Mari Smith gives you the top 75 Facebook Apps. Which is plenty. You don’t have to use them all.

Add YouTube to Your Facebook Page
Laura Roeder shows you how easy it is to add your YouTube channel to your Facebook Page. There are several YouTube applications out there, but she demonstrates the best one in her video: the Involver application.

NetworkedBlogs is the App of Choice for Bloggers
Denise Wakeman of Build a Better Blog did an informal poll and found that most bloggers use NetworkedBlogs to automatically import their blogs posts. I do like it for automation, but Facebook hides some of the automated posts that come in from NetworkedBlogs in the News Feed. So manually posting your blog post is better in the long run.

Appbistro
It can be challenging to find the right app to use since Facebook’s own search function is not that hot. Appbistro is a good place to find apps that can help.

Big Companies on Facebook

The 15 Most Popular Brands On Facebook
Number of fans is not the only thing that matters — it’s also how engaged they are. Business Insidertakes a look at the numbers for the top 15 brands.

8 Brands That Have Found Success on Facebook & What We Can Learn
Dave Kerpen of Likeable gives us a concrete lesson from 8 big brands that we can implement right away in this Mashable post.

26 Facebook Fan Page Examples in Detail
Over on the Ignite Social Media Blog, Lisa Braziel is dissecting 26 big brands on Facebook to show you exactly what they are doing. Follow this series of posts for some great ideas.

25 brilliant examples of Facebook brand pages
Jake Hird covers 25 brands that are doing a good job on Facebook on Econsultancy.

Small Companies on Facebook

Two thirds of small business owners use Facebook for marketing
Baaaa. Should we be sheep? ZDNet dissects some recent stats from a survey of 1,132 small businesses on Facebook.

Top 5 Facebook Marketing Mistakes Small Businesses Make
I think everyone needs to read this post by Leyl Master Black. I see these mistakes in small, medium, and large businesses.

B-to-B Companies on Facebook

10 Examples of B2B Facebook Fan Pages
Business-to-business can be a little trickier on Facebook. You are searching for a more specific niche audience. In Social Media B2B, Jeffery Cohen gives examples of companies that are doing well (kudos to the updated numbers).

7 Awesome B2B Facebook Pages
Yet another great post by HubSpot. This time they cover what makes these B2B Pages special.

Non-profits on Facebook

Facebook Business Tips for Nonprofits
Rebecca Leaman helps answer questions for non-profits such as whether to use a Group or a Page, and how to set a social media policy.

Facebook Best Practices for Nonprofit Organizations
Diosa Communications gives 32 tips for nonprofits. (Psst, lots of them work for anyone!)

How to Comment on and Tag other Pages as your Page

Everything You Need To Know About Facebook’s Epic Upgrade To Pages
The ability to comment on other Facebook Pages as your Page came about in February 2011. John Haydon covers these changes and shows you how to comment as your Page on another Page which can increase your visibility.

Tagging Other Pages On Your Facebook Business Page Wall: How-To & Ettiquette
Mesh Marketing provides a very nice step-by-step post on how to tag Pages and how not to be a self-promotional jerk about it.

Best Practices

Top 5 Things for Facebook Page Success
Good tips from Adele Cooper, the director of global customer marketing & communications for Facebook, posted on the American Express Open Forum.

Altimeter Report: The 8 Success Criteria For Facebook Page Marketing
Download this 27 page report from Jeremiah Owyang and devour it. The report is filled with concrete examples on how brands can market, graphs and charts on how brands are performing, and great tips for any sized business on how to be successful on Facebook.

The Difference Between Engaged and Engaging
Even if you are posting often, you may still be doing it wrong. Danny Brown shows a concrete example of the best way to be engaging on Facebook.

Are You Asking The Wrong Questions On Facebook?
Amy Porterfield shares that the best way to create engagement on Facebook is to ask interesting, thought-provoking questions. She tells us how to make sure we are not asking the wrong questions.

Make Your Facebook Page Posts Count
How do you attract people to interact with your posts? John Porcaro not only gives a great list of best practices such as keeping it short, adding a link and delivering value but he also shows some concrete examples of posts that catch his eye.

5 Tips To Drive Engagement With Your Fans On Facebook
Jeff Bullas tells us not to beg for Likes, but get them naturally through engagement with these five tips.

Advertising on Facebook

Facebook Ads 101 – How to Set up and Track Facebook Ads
Facebook ads can be targeted to a very specific demographic which make them a very powerful tool. Subliminal Pixels has a great overview on getting started with Facebook Advertising.

The How-To Guide For Facebook Advertising
If you use Facebook ads, make sure you are identifying your goals, understanding the cost structure and measuring your results. Anthony Piwarun gives the low-down on these steps in a guest post on Social Media Explorer.

Facebook advertising tricks for b2b marketers
Paul Dunay is the co-author of Facebook Advertising for Dummies, so he knows what he’s talking about. He doesn’t disappoint with these great targeting tips in this article.

Guide to Facebook Ads
Facebook would like to encourage you to spend money with them in this comprehensive overview of how Facebook Ads works. Tongue-in-cheek aside, it’s a good guide to all the pieces of the ad campaign.

Running a Contest on Facebook

Is a Facebook Contest or Sweepstakes Right for your Business?
Debbie Hemly talks with small businesses about their experience running contests on Facebook in this Gigcoin post.

The unofficial guide to Facebook’s terms and conditions
There is a lot of confusion around running a contest on Facebook. Mostly because many people are doing it wrong. Lauren Fisher of Simply Zesty gives us the guide to Facebook’s Contest rules in this post.

Facebook Promotions: What You Need to Know
Another gem by Mari Smith, although she doesn’t mention Woobox in her list of contest applications, which I have used and liked.

Selling on Facebook

16 Facebook Marketing Strategies
A good rundown of different apps you can use to market your business on Facebook by Top One SEO blog.

Facebook Posts Are 3 Times More Powerful Than Tweets
Wondering if you should use Twitter instead of Facebook? A recent study covered in All Facebookcalculated the conversion rate of Facebook to be three times higher than Twitter for social shopping.

Why it’s important to set up a Facebook store
Have stuff to sell? Set up a storefront on Facebook. The Next Web tells you why.

4 Ways to Set Up a Storefront on Facebook
Four great apps to use to sell your wares on Facebook are covered on Mashable. I use Payvment myself.

Facebook ROI

Facebook Marketing ROI: 3 Case Studies
Brian Carter shows us in his Search Engine Journal post three small business examples of how Facebook Ads generated at least 300% ROI and higher for these cases.

How to use Google Analytics to measure Facebook ROI
In this video, John Haydon takes you through Google Analytics to determine your ROI. I like the tip at the end where he tells you to have a unique page on your website that only serves Facebook. That will make your tracking much easier!

Your Brand Has Thousands of Facebook Fans–What Is the ROI?
Steve Kerho on Fast Company answers the question everyone is asking: What is the ROI?

10 Measures of Social Media ROI for Your Brand
Neil Glassman on the Social Times site urges us not to declare our success based on readily available metrics (such as Likes), but to focus on the metrics that are truly relevant to our business. Good advice.

Don’t Stop There

5 things you can do to spice up your Facebook Page
Make it spicy! Ayelet Noff tells us how on Socialmedia.biz.

EdgeRank and Facebook News Feed Optimization
WebProNews talks about how to get into the Top News and what EdgeRank has to do with it.

EdgeRank Checker
An unofficial tool to check your EdgeRank and see how likely it is that you are appearing in the Top News. My favorite part of the tool is how it tells you what days are best for you — make sure you save your best announcements for those days.

How to Use Hootsuite with Facebook Pages (tutorial)
Cheryl at Beautiful Blog Designs has a great tutorial on how to use Hootsuite to manage your Facebook Page and schedule updates for later.

How to use Facebook insights to identify core supporters
John Haydon goes through the steps to using Facebook insights in a meaningful way in this YouTube video. He mentions in the video that the insights he is covering aren’t available for Pages with less than 10,000 fans, but that has changed and the stats he covers are now available.

Why I Don’t Like Your Brand on Facebook

Source: http://www.briansolis.com/2011/05/please-like-us-on-facebook/

Guest post by Andrew Blakeley. Follow him on Twitter (for exclusive deals and offers!)

I recently undertook a simple Facebook experiment, inspired by a brief Monday morning rant from my boss: “This morning my yoghurt told me to find it on Facebook. It didn’t tell me why, it just told me to find it. Why on Earth would I want to find a yoghurt on Facebook? It’s a yoghurt!”

He was right, of course. As social networks slowly become the default online presence for brands to drive their consumers to, adverts, marketing and packaging has started telling us where to go. However, it hasn’t yet started telling us why to go there.

For my experiment – “Find Us On Facebook” – I vowed to Like every brand that asked me to for one week. I would then blog and analyse the various offerings of each brand, in particular how they were attempting to drive people from the offline world to the online, social, world. Here are the results:

As a marketer, I found the results very disappointing. For an industry the focuses endlessly on providing consumers with “benefits” and “reasons to believe” here was a lot of marketing asking people to take an action, without telling them what they stood to gain from it. In 2011 it’s more or less a given that your brand can be found on Facebook, and consumers know that. What they don’t know is why they should bother.

What consumers want from brands in social media is a topic that has been widely written about already, and is fairly well understood by marketers. Research from advertising agency DDB Paris found that amongst the top reasons for Liking a brand were: “to take advantage of promotional benefits”,” to be informed of new products offered by the brand”,” to access exclusive information” and “to give my opinion about the brand”. Four very clear reasons to bother, which could easily be affixed or suffixed onto any “Find us on Facebook” message for greater impact.

Another key finding was the number of brand Liking requests coming from email marketing. These are brands that I had chosen to receive email marketing from directly into my inbox, and here they were asking to appear in my Facebook newsfeed too. They weren’t, however, telling me why I should open myself up to them in another channel.

Only 1 of the 16 brands provided an incentive to make the leap from email to social media. I literally had no reason to bother with the other brands, as I was already receiving their deals and offers, and they weren’t giving me another reason. Some brands have found interesting ways to incentivise people to make the jump:

• Dingo, a dog food brand from Ohio, included a promotion that would only kick-in when the Facebook page reached 5,000 fans (from a base of 300). They had an unprecedented take-up, with fans forwarding on the email to their friends and encouraging sign-ups to get the offer. They hit the 5,000 mark in just 3 days.

• Bag retailer Timbuk2 included an opportunity to win a bike, helmet and messenger bag in an email to its 100,000 newsletter subscribers. It received 6,500 clickthroughs vs. just 9 from its generic social call to action.

Consumers need these incentives, because they know that otherwise all they’re doing is agreeing to be bombarded with more marketing unrewarded.

The sad thing is that some brands are actually building really fun, engaging content in these spaces, but not making people aware of them. The Fosters beer page, for instance, is full of great exclusive Alan Partridge content, starring Steve Coogan and written by Armando Iannucci. Their TV ad, however, had nothing more than a Facebook URL. Had they said “for exclusive Alan Partridge episodes” they would’ve opened their brand Facebook page up to a whole wealth of people, who felt genuinely motivated to click Like.

My week as a social consumer left me tired and confused. It left my Facebook newsfeed so crammed with nonsense to the point that I could scroll entire pages without seeing my friends. It left me a bit sad for the digital marketers and agencies who were building great content that wasn’t getting the attention it deserved. So, if you’re reading this and you work in advertising or are a brand manager – next time you think about telling your consumers to find you on Facebook, consider telling them why.

10 Questions You Must Ask When Hiring a Social Media Consultant (or an agency in general)

Source: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/225335

BY  | January 7, 2013|

social media consultant is essentially the eyes, ears and voice of your company online. That means you need someone who can raise your brand awareness, deliver traffic to your website, and boost your bottom line — all while keeping your company’s reputation top-of-mind.

So how do you hire just the right person? Here are 10 key questions you should ask prospective social media consultants:

1. How successful are you in your own social media networks? It’s important to know how actively engaged consultants are in their own personal and professional social media networks, says Michael Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner and host of the Social Media Marketing Podcast. If they can’t effectively market themselves on social media, they probably can’t do it for you either.

Stelzner suggests observing consultants on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to see if they promptly and appropriately reply to people who engage them and regularly share valuable content. Also, look out for red flags: If consultants share offensive tweets, status updates or photos, for example, don’t do business with them.

2. Do you understand my market? Social media consultants should thoroughly understand your industry and your specific target market, Stelzner says. You can quiz them to gauge their general knowledge of your market, as well as determine whether they have written any significant white papers, case studies, articles or blog posts about trends in your industry.

3. How connected are you to influencers in my industry? Ideally, consultants will already be connected to industry influencers, who can help build awareness of your products and services. To find out how well connected consultants are, check out their list of Twitter followers and people they are following. If they have a Facebook Timeline, scan their “likes” and the people who have “liked” them.

4. May I have the names of your clients? Qualified candidates should readily share with you a list of existing and past clients, says Aliza Sherman, co-author of Social Media Engagement for Dummies (Wiley, 2013). “People usually only point you to past clients that they know were happy with their work,” Sherman says. “So, directly calling or emailing their current clients to find out if they’re pleased with their services is paramount.”

5. Where can I find current and past examples of your work? Sara Sutton Fell, founder of telecommuting job site FlexJobs.com, suggests requesting links to current online examples, as well as past portfolio samples, so you can evaluate social media initiatives that the consultant created or played a central role in. Look for engaging campaigns that resulted in quantifiable increases in brand exposure and sales leads and seem suited to you target market.

6. Which tools do you use to measure the ROI of your campaigns? It’s important for social media managers to back up their accomplishments with metrics and analytics that quantify return on investment. You want to go beyond simple tallies of likes, followers and fans and actually analyze lead conversion rates.

Fell suggests asking consultants whether they use their own custom tracking methods or popular tools like Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and Klout. Also ask how they monitor and improve Facebook EdgeRank and Twitter re-tweet rates.

7. What are some social media campaign ideas for my business? Without showing all of their cards for free, candidates should be willing to discuss the types of social media strategies they could develop for you, Fell says. How would they spark social media actions, reactions and interactions on your behalf to benefit your business? What kinds of Facebook ads, Pinterest contests or Twitter hashtag campaigns could they roll out and when?

8. Which social media do you specialize in? It’s important to be as specific as possible during the hiring process if you hope to focus on a certain social network. For example, if you’re especially interested in encouraging Pinterest users to pin memorable images of your products, you don’t want someone who excels mostly at Facebook coupon code promotions.

9. How would you handle a social media crisis? Social marketing campaigns backfire all the time, as was the case with #McDStories and other hijacked promotional Twitter hashtags. It’s crucial to know how consultants would react to a social media disaster, as well as how they would avoid one in the first place, says David Gerzof Richard, a social media and marketing professorat Emerson College in Boston and president of public relations and social media firm BIGfish. He also suggests asking about consultants’ policies for responding to negative tweets and Facebook comments.

10. What are your payment terms and are they negotiable? You need to know whether consultants get paid a retainer or simply charge by the hour or by the project. Other payment-related questions: How often are invoice payments due–every 30, 60 or 90 days? Is there an interest fee for late payments? Do consultants offer a discount for referring additional clients? Do they require a minimum contract period?