Corporate Eye

7 Tips for Hiring the Right Social Media Manager

Decided you need a social media manager? Jeff Herbst has some pointers for how to hire the right person…

With Facebook valued at around $100 billion, Twitter and LinkedIn valued at around $8 billion a piece, and Google jumping into the social game, it is official: Social media is exploding.

It is no longer possible to ignore or deny the value that social media can have for your company or brand. It allows you to connect and interact with consumers in a genuine way that was never before possible.

It is real, and if you haven’t yet incorporated social media into your marketing strategy, you had better start soon. But you can’t simply jump on Twitter and start tweeting. It takes a comprehensive strategy to make social media work for your company.

Hiring a qualified social media manager is a great place to start. Here are seven tips for making sure you hire the right social media manager to handle your company’s social strategy:

1. Check their previous work

The right social media manager will be able to prove they can walk the walk. Like any other branch of your marketing strategy, social media has some well established success metrics. Facebook Insights provides daily feedback for the performance and growth of your brand’s reach. Facebook’s ad platform comes complete with a robust reporting system that calculates conversions and ROI. Twitter tracks followers, retweets and mentions.

A worthwhile social media manager will be able to point to previous work and illustrate how they were able to accomplish company ROI goals with a comprehensive social media strategy. Ask to see all of their work and the relevant metrics to prove that they have done more then set up a fan page and post the occasional tweet.

2. Ensure they have broad experience

The right social media manager must have broad and varied competencies. Managing social media will be a combination of advertising, community management, customer support, PR, crisis management, reporting and analytics. For this reason, you will want a jack-of-all-trades in the marketing sense. He or she must be able to handle it all, and all at once.

3. Look for traditional marketing experience

You may be looking for a social media manager, but you still want somebody who has a traditional marketing background. In order for them to understand your corporate goals and how social media fits your existing strategy, they should have experience that clues them in to the intricacies of managing a brand outside of social media. In other words, your social media manager must be more than a youngster who spends an obscene amount of time on Facebook.

4. Make sure they have social influence

Perhaps the most important success indicator is social influence. It takes more than regular posts to really develop social reach and engagement. You need a professional who has taken a company or brand and helped it establish real social influence.

Do a Klout check to see what they are made of. If the candidate’s past experience, or better yet their personal social brand, does not show a good influence ranking, they are probably not somebody you should entrust with your social strategy.

5. Are they versatile and current?

As good as a candidate’s previous strategies were, they might not be appropriate for your brand. Social media is, above all else, a dynamic and rapidly evolving industry. The right candidate will demonstrate adaptability and a love for unleashing the next great tactic. When interviewing, ask the candidate what his or her favorite new innovation is and how they would use it with your brand. Ask them about a recent Facebook platform change and what they think of it. Make sure they have a passion for being on the cutting edge and in the know.

6. Are they connected?

Another simple, yet great indicator that a candidate is right for your company is whom they are connected to in the social media world. You will want somebody that rubs elbows with other social media experts and stays in close contact with other innovators in the industry. Peruse their social network profiles and see who they have been talking and working with. As the old adage says, tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.

7. Look for social grace

Last but not least, make sure your social media manager is in fact social. At its core, social media is marketing socially. A manger will be interacting with customers daily. Does the candidate come across as friendly and outgoing, or shy and hesitant? Chances are, a candidate blessed with social grace will be a more successful social media manager. After doing your own research, trust your instincts on this one.

Thanks, Jeff!

Jeff Herbst is a marketing strategist for MBA@UNC, the University of North Carolina, which allows students to receive an MBA online from a Businessweek top twenty ranked program. Outside of work he is an avid reader and kayaker.

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