10 essentials for recruiting a social media manager

This position should be neither entry-level nor an afterthought for your marketing strategy. Today, a brand’s online presence might well be its most prominent. Ask these smart questions.

At some point in your company’s growth—and maybe that’s now—you’ll recognize the opportunities available through social media marketing and advertising.

On that path, you’ll also realize that the requisite investment of time, skills and manpower for success means you must assess (and possibly overhaul) your operational structure.

It’s unlikely that you alone will be able to produce solid, original, high-quality content; engage with fans; and review your metrics.

You’ll recognize that you must take action: You will decide to hire a social media manager.

Once you’ve made this decision, the next hurdle is to figure out who measures up and who’s a poseur. Many company owners and hiring managers don’t spend a lot of time on social networks, so it’s quite a challenge to identify the best person to handle the brand’s reputation, social presence and sales leads.

I recently spoke at a conference, and one attendee said, “I don’t feel comfortable handing my brand over to a 20-year-old.” This is a common obstacle, and the worry is warranted.

When you’re hiring a social media manager, it’s not so much the age as the acumen. I’ve had 19-year-old receptionists tell me they wouldn’t be caught dead on social media. I also know a 41-year-old who handles all the digital and social marketing for a large auto group in Southern California. It’s not the person’s age that’s important; it’s his or her mindset.

As long as you know the right questions to ask (and are open to expert social media guidance along the way), it won’t matter how old or young the person is.

What matters is that they have sales know-how, a solid foundation in marketing development and strategy, and an understanding of today’s hyper-connected, social-media-savvy customers.

Who speaks for your company on social media?

Hiring a social media manager can be quite a challenge. Social media reaches people and fosters conversations, and your social media manager must develop a conduit for leads and sales from those relationships.

Social media is an integral part of online marketing strategy, which includes content marketing and SEO.

A lot of people are trying to capitalize on this booming market, so here’s a shocker: Not everyone who says they can do social media marketing have actually done it successfully.

When you’re ready to hire (or promote) your social media manager, take advantage of these 10 questions to assess your candidates. Their answers will inform your decision and help you pick the right person.

1. What social media platform(s) are best for your business? (Have them explain why).

Ask them to describe the “personality” of your company brand in three words. They should have done research on your company and your customers before assessing the potential across today’s social media channels. Facebook, Twitter, your company blog, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube are essential channels, and each has different marketing tactics.

2. What are the two most important social marketing metrics a company should monitor regularly?

  • Engagement. Whatever the channel, there should be measurable conversation around your company brand. Content is what drives social marketing success, so if your content stinks, you won’t see people engaging. Your candidate should be well versed in writing and curating relevant content for your audience.
  • Leads. Have they run a social media campaign that generated leads? What’s their track record with Facebook ads? Organic (non-paid-for) leads from social media look very different from the ones you see from advertising. Listening and responding timely to social media leads is crucial. Just as in real-life conversations, when people talk to you, they expect a response.

3. Are they accomplished in a social media marketing environment and in a social media customer service environment?

Ask your candidate to define the difference between these two elements:

  • Social media marketing environment calls for a more conversational approach. Most social media conversations don’t revolve around sales. Your candidate must recognize where someone is in their purchase journey and guide them to their destination.
  • Social customer service environment requires empathy, patience and the ability to resolve conflict. Your candidate must recognize situations that might call for an escalation to a manager. Remember: They’re not just responding to that one customer, but for an audience of future customers.

4. What’s the most important thing a social media manager should be doing?

A solid answer would be monitoring the audience within the brand’s social media channels. Engaging regularly with fans and followers is evidence that you’re there, you care and you’re interested in having them as a customer.

5. Have they ever had to handle a social media/online reputation crisis?

Ask them to define what that means to them and what steps they would take to resolve a crisis.

If the company doesn’t have a “best practices” protocol in place, it’s time to develop one. This would be included in your social media policy and should emulate your current conflict resolution process.

6. How would they allocate your budget for social media advertising?

Ask them to describe a plan for how best to allocate your budget and how they would know whether it’s successful.

A typical budget consideration is for Facebook ads. Depending on your company and your market, a minimum $500 per month is a good start.

Investment in social media and content marketing is prerequisite for success. There are six main ways you’re going to invest if you want to see a decent return on investment (ROI):

  • Money
  • Time
  • Staffing
  • Attention
  • Monitoring, publishing and reporting software
  • Training

7. Do they have a blog, and do they currently write content for social media channels?

Ask to see their blog in action, and check whether they’re posting regularly.

Ask to see links to online content they’ve written. Many candidates will produce content for places like LinkedIn Pulse and Medium without having their own blog.

It’s crucial that your candidate has a working understanding of how content drives everything in digital marketing—SEO, content and social media.

8. Ask them what marketing strategies they plan to use to generate leads.

You need to know how social media is giving you something quantifiable for your money. Social media ROI = number of leads.

Social media marketing strategies that generate leads require social media advertising. Each platform has its strengths, but overall Facebook ads offer the greatest opportunities.

9. Ask them what their first goals would be.

If your candidate starts talking about attracting X number of Facebook “likes” or Y number of Twitter followers, stop them and ask:

  • How will they build an audience of in-market fans?
  • How do they plan to engage with that specific audience?

They might try to blind you with numbers, but a small, switched-on and engaged audience offers you much more value than a bunch of fans/followers from outside your market area.

10. Ask them to tell you a story.

I’ve saved the coolest, most enjoyable question for last. If your candidate can tell a compelling story, that will give you a huge advantage in all levels of social media and content marketing.

We all connect via stories. Stories paint pictures in customers’ minds and evoke emotions that foster trust and credibility. Your candidate must be able to illustrate, through stories, why people should buy from you rather than from your competitor.

One final thought

This is not a position that should be taken lightly nor seen as an entry-level position. Your social media manager will convey the lifeblood of your brand to an indefinite amount of current, potential and legacy customers.

Please take deliberate steps to find the embodiment of your brand’s personality. Choose someone who will take the leadership role in building your online reputation.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Kruse Control blog.

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