This isn’t going to be a list of interview questions to ask a potential consultant.  Instead, we’re focusing on a checklist of questions to ask yourself when hiring a social media consultant at your FI.

Many executives go into the process blind. They know they need social media at their bank, but aren’t sure what exactly needs to be done or what they are trying to accomplish. For that reason, it can be very easy to be mislead, pump money into campaigns, and see few results.

To avoid this, whenever you start to research social media and content marketing consultants, we propose you ask, does this company eat their own dog food?

To take this a step further, we can look at a few additional questions that will tell you whether or not they truly do, and what it will reveal about them.

Do They Offer Free Advice?

Do they have a blog? When you call them, do you get tips during your initial conversation? Do they answer questions you have via email? Content marketing is the idea that by distributing relative and valuable information you will attract and acquire new leads. There isn’t a need for a hard sales pitch.

Furthermore, decide whether or not the information they provide is valuable to you. After reading a blog post do you find yourself wanting to subscribe? Do you like what they have to share on social media? Were some of your problems solved after watching a video they posted? If the answer is yes, they’re doing something right!

YOU are their target audience, and they’ve got YOU interested…now they’ve just got to help you do it for your customers.

How Do They Act On Social Media?

Do they post often? Do they respond to comments? Do they share other people’s content? Find out what their voice is like on social media and decide if it’s something you would mesh well with.

Not only that, but check out their following. Having the largest following isn’t always a sign that they’re are the best. (It just means they have big pockets to pay for them.) Instead look past the superficial numbers, and delve into the dark depths of their following. If they are a consultant that specializes in banking, how many banks follow them. If they report large successes with credit unions, what credit unions are following their content? Do major publications in their designated industry follow and share their posts?

By understanding who they interact with on social media, it will help determine whether or not they will be able to carve out that same niche for your institution.

What Did They Ask You?

When you hop on the phone it’s easy to get lost trying to find out as much as possible about the consultant and forget about yourself. But remember, you’re the potential client here. Keep an ear out for the types of questions they ask you.

A good social media and content marketing consultant will ask you about your business strategy, ask why you want to use social media, and ask what kind of results you’re expecting.

Asking questions like these will help a consultant understand your individual business goals, and enable them to create a content marketing plan that is specific to your organization. Being generic doesn’t work on social media. So if a consultant is treating you like a generic brand, they’re sure to miss the mark.

Do You Like Them?

At first this might sound silly, but we promise it’s not. Ask yourself whether or not you enjoy talking to them. Do they make you laugh? Do you want to lean in a little closer? Do you hang on their every word?

Social media is about the art of storytelling and the ability to hold conversations with your potential clients. So if a consultant isn’t able to make you feel this way, it’s doubtful that they’ll be able to make others feel this way either.

While talking to potential consultants try to pinpoint what makes them unique. These are the things that will set them apart from others, and if they align well with your organization, chances are they’ll be a great fit.

At the end of the day it comes down to practicing what you preach, or as we said earlier – eating your own dog food.

Would you hire a lifeguard that couldn’t swim? Why should hiring a social media consultant be any different?