You know its time for your company to enter the realm of social media, but perhaps you're unsure of how to get started, or where to concentrate your efforts. You probably require outside help. And in a Pro article at MarketingProfs, Mack Collier provides an in-depth primer on hiring a social-media consultant. Here's a taste of his advice:

Google the potential candidate. When you enter Collier's name, "you see that there are over 30,000 search results, and among the first 10 results you see my blog and my Blogger profile, as well as my Twitter account and my LinkedIn account. You can immediately tell that I am active on multiple social sites." Be wary if a search returns only a few hundred results, especially if they aren't related directly to the consultant.

Investigate expertise with specific social-media tools. If you need help with blogs, for instance, look for evidence of success at the consultant's blog. Do posts appear at least once a week? Do visitors leave comments? Does the consultant publish statistics on the volume of traffic and subscribers? "Evaluating a consultant's blog is important, because if a consultant appears to have a healthy and vibrant blog, then odds are he or she can help you improve your blogging efforts. Blog consultants will understand that their blog is a tool that can be used to sell potential customers on blog consulting."

The Po!nt: Don't rule someone out only because their consultancy resume is thin. "Many successful bloggers begin consulting simply because potential clients begin inquiring about their availability to consult," says Collier. "Also, since the field of social-media consulting is relatively new, many consultants wont yet have a robust package of client work. So, although a nice portfolio of client work is important, its not essential."

Source: MarketingProfs. Click here for the complete article.

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