One question that we get a lot at Small Army is what we look for when staffing at the agency. Being one of the newer roles in advertising, social media can be a particularly difficult position to recruit for.
There has been an ongoing discussion in the advertising community about whether or not to judge a candidate by their Twitter influence. Tools like Klout can give you great insight into an applicant’s engagement and reach on Twitter, but it only shows you a small fraction of information required to judge their social media skill. Many candidates with social media experience have managed multiple accounts for their clients and looking at the way they communicate on their personal accounts is only a small representation of that experience. When interviewing, ask what clients they have worked with and see how they communicate in different brand voices.
As social media is an emerging field, most candidates come from a background that is not in social media. There are still no social media programs in college and there is still no “right way” to break into the industry. Some people have studied advertising while others worked in media relations or design fields. This can make it very difficult to judge whether someone has the appropriate qualifications for social media position. For this reason, I suggest looking for these characteristics in tandem with work history:
Your social media manager is your brand’s number one advocate. They have to believe in what you are doing, understand the message and be loyal. They need to engage and empower your clients, customers, friends and followers to be an army of supporters.
While it’s not necessary to recruit a journalist, your social media manager certainly has to posses strong writing skills. Social Media Analyst, Jessica Weil, agrees, “Social media managers have to know how to write. From blog posts that leverage key words for SEO to succinct 140-character tweets, they have to effectively communicate the brand’s voice through multiple channels.”
Your online network is only as strong as your network offline. A successful social media manager will be a social butterfly. They will attend tweet-ups, conferences, industry social events and more. The stronger their network becomes, the more their reach will grow. With each business card exchange comes another LinkedIn connection and another engaged follower of your brand.
Social Media Strategist Evan Roberts said it best, your social media manager must demonstrate “endless creative ability and a knack for accurately interpreting written communication with little context.” They must be able to come up with solutions to problems in a field that has no set rules or standards. They have to be a teacher and a student all at once, and they must always think out of the box.
Social media is constantly changing and rapidly growing. The social media plan you make for Client X won’t work the same way for Client Y, so your social media manager may have to try new methods of connecting with your audience. Guaranteed: some of them will fail. Your company needs someone who will learn from their mistakes and come back with a stronger, successful plan of attack.
Kelsey Graham, our New Business Coordinator at Small Army shares, “We look for someone who not only understands what is happening now in social media, but someone who also thinks about where social media is going. They must also be able to connect with clients to guide them toward a leap of faith on the scary, unknown world of new media.”
This may be one of the most important qualifications of them all. It’s imperative that you trust your social media manager to conduct themselves in a manner that is professional at all times. They are one of the loudest voices of your brand, and you need to trust them to communicate on your company’s behalf with potential clients and customers. While it may seem obvious, please and thank you go very far in the social media world, and it is important for your social media manager use appropriate and respectful language and provide prompt and efficient customer service.
What qualifications would you add to this list?