Quizzing a Prospective Partner on Social Media Know-How

Candidates_interviewJeneane Sessum recently published a cheeky quiz for evaluating a prospective “Social Media Partner.”  Mike Manuel also recently tackled this subject, at a high level, as has Tom Foremski.

I’ll take the middle road (if for no other reason than that Jeneane is funnier than me, Mike is smarter, and Tom’s far more hip – but don’t tell them I said so).

Borrowing liberally from the concepts Jeneane raised, I think it’s worthwhile to consider what’s truly important when a client wants to ensure that their prospective PR agency “gets it.” 

Here’s my version of Jeneane’s Social Media Partner Quiz…  Feel free to add it to your Agency RFP…

  1. Please provide the links to any and all blogs maintained by agency staff.  How old is your oldest agency-affiliated blog?
  2. Please provide links to any posts that your staff bloggers feel best represent their style and content.
  3. What are the top 3 blogs in our industry?  Does anyone who works at your agency regularly monitor or (better yet) participate in these blogs?  Would that staffer work on our account?  What would these “top 3 bloggers” say about your staff member(s), if asked?
  4. Are any of the blogs written by your staff among the Technorati Top 10,000?  (Alternately, “How would you rate your staff-written blogs within the PR blogosphere: are they respected?  How would you quantify this?”)
  5. What tools are you using to monitor conversations in the blogosphere?  How often are you monitoring (e.g., as often as you monitor the mainstream media)?
  6. What percentage of your staff use RSS?  (What is RSS?)
  7. How has your agency used social media tools in campaigns for clients?  What tools were used?  What was the result?  In retrospect, how might you have handled it differently?  Please include links.
  8. What social media tools/sites do you use in your everyday life?  Can you also name a few that you’re interested in (why are you interested?), but not currently using or viewing?
  9. What mistakes have you made in the Social Media arena?
  10. What are some of your favorite books about Social Media concepts? 

Please note that since there can be no self-respecting, self-described experts in a sphere as young as Social Media, there are no “right” answers to a quiz like this one.  Ultimately you want someone who can answer such questions lucidly and confidently – but not too confidently.  (If they shrug their shoulders a fair amount, that’s not such a bad thing.) 

You don’t need to be a “T’rati Top 5,000” blogger to understand how to connect with people (after all, there are precious few PR bloggers in this lofty zone).  You don’t need 100% of agency staffers to be hardcore RSS users to entrust blog monitoring to your PR team.  Mostly you need to hire somone who respects the medium; someone who already participates in a full-blooded way.  You want someone who is in awe of it but also embraces it; someone who is scared witless and yet is totally energized by Social Media’s possibilities and pitfalls.

Posted on: May 23, 2007 at 7:42 pm By Todd Defren
4 Responses to “Quizzing a Prospective Partner on Social Media Know-How”


  • Kari Hanson says:

    Great conversation starter, Todd, but I *respectfully* think these questions are more suited when interviewing a candidate for an agency vs. interviewing an agency. As a client, I’m less interested in what PR blogs my account team reads, but very interested in the bloggers they think we should be talking to.

    Your question 7 really gets to the meat of this topic, which is what has the agency done with other clients and what SM technologies does it think will complement your program. I’d add one more suggestion: if a company is really looking for a social media partner who “gets” social media, why not skip the “PR 1.0″ RFP altogether and request agencies to pitch your business using the technology? It might be interesting to capture the proposal in a Wiki, with links to industry news and blogs that the team captured while researching. Bonus points to the agency that even captures the internal conversations that usually accompanies a pitch using a password protected blog or discussion forum. They could even add a flickr photo stream of the team …

  • True. It is a good set of initial Qs. We’re small and 1 year old so our track record of a more established player so we’re still establishing a SM rep, so to speak. I do tell cos that are looking at agencies for SM marketing to make sure they are dealing with a firm that is just as successful with their own efforts.

    On another note, I love my Q phone, but responding to posts with it hurts. Never again. Be well, Todd!

  • Todd Defren says:

    But again, Geoff, these q’s are merely first-steps. Only a firm that is clueless on how to answer these questions deserves immediate disqualification.

  • Too bad Technorati’s authority only right now. But under your barometer I wouldn’t qualify as a good social media partner, yet I have the highest ranking of any local PR blog in the DC area by Technorati’s system… So…

Show some social media love would ya?

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