I don’t call myself a social media consultant even though a lot of the integrated marketing and communications work I do includes social media.
Social media consultants are great at what they do. And while it is great to be recognized in my industry as being knowledgeable in communications and social media marketing, I don’t refer to myself as a social media consultant. Sure, I speak about social media at conferences and write (a lot) about social media. But management consulting is different.
Business Consulting is about Strategy first, then Tactics
As a certified management consultant or CMC – our job is to identify issues, use root cause analysis and diagnosis tools to determine what is a problem and what is a symptom of a problem. In the end – analysis of the data leads towards an action and then an implementation plan based on the functional areas of business: strategy, IT, human resources, sales/marketing, finance and operations. We implement tactics based on a strategy.
The fact that many management consultants may recommend social media as a business tool and usually are either darned skilled at using the tools and tactics or can recommend a contractor to implement the concepts, does not mean social media is all we can do and we should not define ourselves as such. We have to be able to understand the financial statements too – but we are not accountants. The distinction is important.
What is The Discipline of Management Consulting
For management consultants – the launch of a new product, whether it is for a technology firm or for an eco-lodge in the tourism industry, starts with the strategy not the tactic. The work is to determine the how and what with a view to the whole product or project in the context of the business. This is usually a longer term process not limited to a single social media campaign, promotion or contest which may be a contract not a consulting project.
Whether or not to use Facebook as a method to distribute coupons or reward our loyal fans or for customer service – the platform is a tactic – not a strategy. And management consultants will always start with business strategy rather than jumping right into tactics.
This concept holds true with communications as well. Business goals drive the communications strategy and social media is one tool of many that can be used in the wide range of tactical marketing, communications and public relations options.
What about social media specialists who refer to themselves as management consultants? I haven’t seen that happen though I suppose it could. Management consultants have years of business experience, specialized training from universities (usually an MBA at minimum) and are part of a professional organization that has peer reviews and a professional code of conduct. We are accountable to the CMC professional body. It’s ok to ask questions about professional development and how your consultant demonstrates their commitment to their industry.
When to hire a management consultant?
If you already know your business strategy and need a contractor to implement the social media part of the tactics and you have already gone through the process of deciding what, where and why – hire a social media contractor.
If you need an integrated digital strategy that considers your business and communications strategy as a whole – hire someone not only with the professional designation to back up the skill set – but someone who also subscribes to a code of ethics that is monitored by a professional body. That is a certified management consultant.
Terry Rachwalski is a Certified Management Consultant in Victoria, BC. She loves social media and uses multiple platforms for marketing campaigns as tactics within the context of business communications strategy. Though she unabashedly defines herself according to her professional designation, CMC, Terry Rachwalski also holds an MBA and has 25 years experience working with technology firms. You can follow her on Google +
Post updated on November 8, 2013