By now it should be clear that any company that wants to have a successful marketing campaign has to use social media in its mix. Other have said, and I agree,that social media is the 21st century’s industrial revolution. Leaving other formsof marketing out of a campaign will usually not affect its success. Leaving social media out can cripple a campaign before it begins.Not just any person or agency can create and run a social media campaign. It takes an experienced marketing person who has both the training and experience in using social media. Too often companies stumble because they try to take shortcuts.Many companies do seem to realize they need social media. The people in charge see their competitors are successfully using social media, so they decide to jumpinto the game. But social media is still pretty new. That leads to a lot of uncertainty among chief marketing officers. They look at the social media toolbox that’s filled with dozens of sites and are confused.When that happens companies do one of two things: The CMO hires someone fresh out of college 22-year-old who must know they what are doing because they have a Facebook page and they tweet; or they turn to their advertising or marketing agency and ask them to put together a social media campaign.The problems with the two approaches should be obvious. In the first case, a 22-year-old may know how to “like” on Facebook, but won’t have any idea on to plan and run a campaign. In the second case, a company will often find their agency has hired a 22-year-old fresh out of college to do social media for clients. In some cases, I know of old-line agencies have tired to talk their clients out of using social media arguing that traditional media will work just fine. I think that’s because they don’t want to admit they don’t know how to create and run a social media campaign.I have noticed lately is there are many companies offering for-fee webinars, high-priced conferences, and expensive books. These companies all purport be socialmedia experts. But as far as I can tell, none of these actually have done any social media campaigns. Who trained their trainers? What’s their background? That’s why I am always suspicious of those offers.What of course a company should do is hire an experienced social media agency. That agency should be experienced in both social media and traditional marketingand public relations. Why traditional public relations? Because social media marketing and traditional public relations meld quite nicely. While it is importantto use the new channels, you cannot afford to ignore the old ones.So, when a company decides to do the right thing and hire a social media marketing agency, what skills and abilities should those making the decisions look for?Here are my suggestions for what should be asked:•What is the agency’s experience in social media? How long has it been doing socialmedia marketing?•Who will be working on the campaign? An experienced account executive who has extensive training in social media and its uses or that recent college grad with the Facebook page?•What social media applications does it use for its own business? Does it have aFacebook page, does it use Twitter, do its principals blog, does it post videoson YouTube, and does it know what social bookmarking is? There are many other questions that should be asked. This is just a sample.•How many social media campaigns has the agency done? What were the results?•What will the client be expected to do? This is a key question. Social media demands client involvement to a much larger extent than other forms of marketing. It is one of the things that makes it more effective.