Social media gurus and wizards who claim to be able to perform miracles for your practice are lurking around every corner. But now do you know if they are for real, or if they just blowing smoke?

Here are 5 questions you can ask to see if they are a good fit for you.

What can I expect to get from social media?

If they say something like “I can get you 10,000 followers” then it’s time to end the conversation. Although metrics are important, quality not quantity is what you need.  Look for a response that recognizes your business goals; something like ” we aim to achieve positive engagement from the consumers that matter most to you” shows some strategic thinking.

What social networks do you specialize in? 

Be wary of anyone who claims to specialize in all of them; it’s not realistic to be an expert in everything.  Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest are all juggernauts in this space and especially important if you want to target women. But social media networks come and go, remember MySpace, so make sure they also say that they follow trends to stay ahead of up and coming ways to reach your target audience.

Are there any restrictions that you know of that might be specific to my industry?

This is particularly important in the healthcare field.  If the answer is along the lines of “Anything goes in social media” then kick them to the curb.  This is your professional reputation and just because social media involves limited characters or unmoderated comments is no excuse. The person you hire should be aware of basic regulations like HIPAA rules that will affect your presence online.

Do you offer a guarantee?

If they say something like “I will get you 1,000 likes within a month” it’s time to say goodbye. Far more meaningful, if they acknowledge that marketing to consumers is not a science and it is difficult to predict the outcome.  Look for an answer like  “I guarantee we will constantly monitor what resonates with your consumers and what is being ignored.  We continually tweak the campaign to make sure sure that we are actively engaging with your patients”

What are my competitors doing?

Any professional worth their salt should have done some research before talking to you.  If they demonstrate their knowledge of social media with examples of how a Pepsi video went viral, or how Kim Kardashian gained so many followers on Instagram then show them the door. Different types of businesses need different strategies to succeed in social media.  They should be able to share effective programs that other medical practices have implemented.

Before you part with any money make sure your social media expert can answer these questions. And remember a wizard or magician is no substitute for someone who knows your space.