The concept of hiring a dedicated social media manager was almost unheard of a decade ago.

But fast forward to present day and it’s clear that times have changed.

The average business is pouring hours upon hours per week into social media as ad budgets are on the rise.

Businesses are expected to figure out how to hire a social media manager given the widespread social usage of companies today

From providing swift customer service to rolling out ad campaigns, the role of social media manager isn’t something to pass off to an intern or treat as an afterthought.

In fact, a well-qualified social media manager could be the key to a positive ROI from your social efforts as you give your presence the attention it deserves.

The problem? Not all businesses are exactly clear on how to hire a social media manager.

The position itself is relatively young and qualified candidates aren’t always easy to spot. Meanwhile, defining that “perfect” candidate is difficult as every business varies in terms of their needs, goals and budgets.

The good news? Top talent is out there: it’s just a matter of honing your hiring strategy. That’s exactly why we put together this guide for recruiters breaking down how to hire a social media manager.

Give Your Goals Some Serious Thought

This might seem like a no-brainer, but the lack of a concrete goal is almost universal among those who struggle with social marketing.

You need to have your priorities sorted out from the start, especially when there’s money involved. For example:

  • Are you on the hunt for a fatter follower count?
  • In need of a Facebook ad wizard?
  • Want someone to wrangle all of your customer service concerns?
  • All of the above, perhaps?

Check out this recent listing on LinkedIn for a social media manager. The listing highlights a big-picture objective and a specific follow count goal before getting into the nitty gritty of the position.

Job descriptions for social media managers must be incredibly detailed

There is no “right” goal as every business is different, but outlining them gets your hiring process onto the right start. Also, having a specific endgame in mind frames what applicants are getting into without being blindsided.

Another reason setting your goals is important is because you might realize that a social media manager isn’t enough. If one of your goals is to build and foster a community, then hiring a community manager could be a better option. Check out this article to learn the difference between a social media manager and community manager.

Define Your Expectations

Attracting qualified candidates means spelling out your expectations. Again, simply handing over the reigns of your social accounts to somebody without a mission is a recipe for disaster.

Yet the role of social media manager is a diverse one. Below are some pointers to consider when both crafting your job descriptions and looking at potential candidates.

Do They Have Customer Service Chops?

Although many aspects of your social presence can be put on autopilot, customer care cannot.

With the public relying on social media for customer care and expecting speedy service, having someone on deck to respond to questions in real-time is a game-changer. It might sound cheesy, but you can’t neglect simple people skills.

Do They Understand Your Brand’s Voice?

Your social media manager’s job becomes much easier when you’ve effectively outlined your brand voice to them.

Does your company play the role of joker? Are you more of a “suit and tie” operation?

Regardless, it’s crucial for social managers to adopt the appropriate voice to keep in line with your brand. Outlining your beliefs, values and voice keeps your potential hire from sounding like a robot and turning your followers off.

How Many Accounts Are They Responsible For?

Just because someone “gets” Instagram doesn’t mean that the can repeat the same success on Facebook.

If you’re juggling multiple social accounts, you’ll need to find a social media manager that’s comfortable doing so. Each social account represents its own legwork, including unique content, captions and customer care.

That said, taking advantage of social scheduling removes a lot of the grunt work involved in the role. By scheduling social posts in advance, the process of managing multiple accounts isn’t so overwhelming. Furthermore, having a bird’s eye view of your social presence at all times ensures no account goes neglected.

Sprout Publishing Calendar

Should They Have Total Creative Control?

Brands have no shortage of options when it comes to ideas for fresh content.

Blog posts. Memes. GIFs. The list goes on.

Is your social media manager expected to come up with those ideas to fill up your social calendar? Do they know how to write creative captions that encourage clicks and comments?

Ideally, you can find a candidate who understands how to inject some personality into their posts without being micromanaged.

What Else to Look for in a Social Media Manager

As noted earlier, assessing candidates for the role of social media manager can be tricky.

You’ll likely encounter a mix of total newbies, seasoned social users and those who’ve perhaps dabbled in managing brand accounts in the past. It’s not all about years of experience, though, especially since the role is so new.

In addition to the responsibilities highlighted above, consider the following attributes that signal strong candidates for the role. If you’re trying to figure out how to hire a social media manager that you don’t have to spend forever onboarding, these “bonus points” are worth looking out for.

They’re Committed to Collaboration

Communication skills are a must-have for any digital role. Whether it’s staying up-to-date on campaigns or pushing specific initiatives, social media managers can’t afford to be totally isolated from the rest of your team.

That’s why familiarity with tools like Trello and Slack is a major plus for potential candidates who already know what effective collaboration looks like.

Social media managers must be willing to communicate and collaborate via third-party tools

They Understand Analytics & Third-Party Platforms

Finding someone who understands the fundamentals of analytics and reporting for ROI is also a game-changer. Third-party platforms are integral to modern social media marketing: the less you have to worry about the learning curve of social monitoring tools for your potential hire, the better.

Sprout group report

Analytics are likewise a huge piece of holding your social media manager accountable for their efforts. Your ideal candidate understands that effective social media management is about data-driven results, not posting Buzzfeed quizzes and emojis all day.

They Have a Social Track Record

An aspiring social media manager without any sort of social track record is obviously a huge red flag. While your potential hire doesn’t necessarily need to be some sort of growth hacking “prodigy,” they should at the very least be able to prove that they understand the lay of the social landscape.

Social media managers should ideally have a proven track record of growing their own following

Where to Find Top Talent

If you don’t have any potential candidates within your network and have been burned by traditional job boards or freelance platforms, don’t despair.

Unsurprisingly, one of the best places to find a social media manager is, well, social media itself.

“Social media manager” results in thousands of hits on LinkedIn, likewise representing where social savvy hires are going to be hanging out anyway.

There are tons of companies currently hiring for social media managers on LinkedIn

Many hiring companies also push their positions to Twitter and redirect them to their native company pages. Again, any social media manager worth their salt is already going to be on Twitter anyhow.

Finally, there’s always the option of Facebook recruiting if you’re trying to figure out how to a hire a social media manager that’s local to you.

Facebook recruiting allows you to target candidates in a specific location

When to Hire a Social Media Manager

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, every business is different in terms of their needs.

If you’re unable to currently accommodate the leads coming in through your social channels, it’s probably time to bring someone on.

Likewise, if you’re getting tons of customer service requests that are going unanswered, you need to take action. Watching your social accounts gather cobwebs spells bad news for your brand.

There’s no denying that wrangling your social presence can be time-consuming. That’s exactly why understanding how to find a social media manager now will save you major time and stress down the road.

Even something as simple as hiring a freelancer to check in on your accounts and respond to queries once a day can make a huge difference.

Should You Hire a Full-Time or Freelance Social Media Manager

On a related note, there’s the issue of whether to bring someone on full-time or going the freelance route.

Of course, full-timers are going to require a larger financial commitment. That said, you get the benefit of working with someone who forms a relationship with your brand and company at large. Full-time employees obviously have more stake in not only their performance for the sake of their jobs, but also being in-tune with your business’ goals.

Freelancers represent a lower price tag and higher flexibility for brands, but they come with their own unique set of challenges.

For starters, finding a freelancer with the skill set that you can trust with confidential company information (think: account access) is probably going to require some digging. Meanwhile, there’s always the potential for someone to flake out on you despite your best efforts.

If you go the freelancer route, it’s extremely important that you use a third-party tool like Sprout, so you can give them access to the accounts they need without giving out passwords.

Sprout approval workflow

The ideal situation for most businesses would be to start with someone on an as-needed basis and transition them into a full-time role over time based on their performance. This approach manages the expectations of your hire and keeps your budget in check simultaneously.

How Much Should You Pay a Social Media Manager?

As we mentioned, the social media manager role is still fairly new. Especially compared to other marketing careers. One area that’s still not super clear is how much social media managers should make.

Do you pay someone with five years of general marketing experience more than someone fresh out of college but has been a social media intern?

Should a social media manager make as much as an email marketing manager or content manager?

While we can’t answer these questions for you, we can supply you with some average salary ranges for social media managers so you at least have some benchmarks:

According to Glassdoor the average salary for a social media manager is $54,238.

glassdoor average social media manager salary

PayScale showed a median salary of $45,260.

payscale average social media manager salary

Keep in mind that these are national averages. You might pay more or less depending on location and the individual. But it seems the $45-60K range seems to be about average.

Feel Comfortable With How to Hire a Social Media Manager?

Bringing on fresh talent to manage your social channels is quickly becoming a must-do for modern companies. By sticking to these pointers, you can hone in on the perfect fit based on your business’ goals.

What exactly are you looking for in a social media manager? What do you think the biggest challenge is when it comes to finding top talent? Let us know in the comments below!