Too often companies place Social Media Manager positions low on their totem poles of recruiting importance. That or teams delegate this responsibility to untrained marketing or communications pros who aren’t focused solely on social.
As a Social Media Manager myself, this has always baffled me—especially when nearly three in four employees say their employer does not know how to promote their employment brand on social media.
Because of this skills gap, it’s imperative for every company, no matter how big or small, to have a strong social media strategy in place—and have a quality head devoted to social media.
Once you prioritize hiring the right person for this role, do you know what to look for? I’ve managed the employer-facing social media channels for Glassdoor, the fastest growing jobs and recruiting marketplace, for more than a year. In that time, I’ve come to appreciate the skills that have helped me excel as well as others I need to improve.
Five Qualities to Look for in a Social Media Manager
1. Social Media Managers Are Well Organized
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that organizational skills have to be your No. 1 priority when hiring a Social Media Manager, but it certainly tops my list. While my primary focus is launching social campaigns and writing blog posts, a million things come up every day that also demand my attention.
Personally, being organized includes making to-do lists, communicating effectively with my boss and teammates about what I’m working on and where I need their help, and providing status updates when necessary. It’s vital for a Social Media Manager to adopt a “to-do list” mindset. If you could peer into my brain, you’d find a list of tasks I need to complete, organized in order of importance.
More often than not, your Social Media Manager will be the liaison between many internal teams (I work with recruiting, PR, sales and marketing teams on campaigns on a weekly basis), making it vital to stay up to date on all projects you’re working on. I use Evernote to stay organized, but I’ve also heard that Asana is great for teams.
Lastly, a strong organizer can handle an editorial calendar with ease. Whether you use a structured calendar system or not, your Social Media Manager must be able to schedule social messages and campaigns everywhere from 24 hours out to a week or two.
When interviewing candidates, ask how they stay on top of projects and what tools they use to stay organized. Understanding their thought process will help you hire the right person.
2. Social Media Managers Can Plan for Spontaneity
This sounds like an oxymoron, but hear me out. From brainstorming sessions and advertising workshops at Twitter, my biggest takeaways has been that social media is all about listening and taking advantage of the moment.
Because of this, we now have a two-fold social media strategy, comprised of the things we can plan and the unplanned. Each week, I sit down and schedule Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn posts related to upcoming events, new eBooks and other content—projects formally planned and organized.
Speaking of unplanned, the recent US Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage is a great example. When it came, we knew we had to join the social media conversation, right away. For these situations, when social blows up after a big news event, you need a Social Media Manager who can roll with the tidal wave, shift priorities and leverage the surge with relevant, timely and appropriate messaging.
Caution: It’s wise to engage your PR and/or legal teams in advance to discuss your strategy for major news events before they take place. This way, your Social Media Manager knows the protocol for big announcements and can react appropriately without being delayed by approval processes.
When interviewing Social Media Manager candidates, ask how they would handle spur-of-the-moment situations. Hearing how they would handle abrupt announcements will give you deeper insight into their ability to think creatively on the spot.
3. Social Media Managers Know How to Prioritize
This goes hand in hand with organization, but I think it fully deserves its own section. The ability to know what’s important and what can wait will make or break any employee, but especially your Social Media Manager. Colleagues come at me with a dozen requests each day—Tweets for this, a blog post for that, etc. The ability to think both short-term and long-term will keep your Social Media Manager from getting too bogged down with the day-to-day requests.
I believe it’s part of my job to know what needs to get done right this minute and what can wait. On my to-do lists, I have “do now” and “can wait” sections.
Without them, random requests might overwhelm larger, more important initiatives I need to manage. Finding a Social Media Manager who understands the importance of prioritizing short- and long-term tasks will help propel your social strategy in the right direction.
4. Social Media Managers Can Conduct Research
Social media is always changing, often on a dime. That’s why your Social Media Manager needs to be extremely flexible as well as have a thirst for researching new platforms and innovative technologies.
While researching typically falls to the bottom of my priority list—frankly, getting tomorrow’s blog post ready to go is usually more pressing—it’s something that your Social Media Manager should have a knack for.
Personally, I put aside an hour every day to spend time researching on social media. Whether it’s looking for new thought leaders or industry experts to follow, Retweeting content our audience will find interesting or sourcing new tools that will make me more productive, this time is always spent wisely and makes me better at my job.
Ask your candidates which social media platforms they prefer, blogs they read or new technologies they find interesting. Getting a read for how in-the-know your candidates are will help you find the one Social Media Manager that’s right for you.
5. Social Media Managers Are Metrics Driven
I’m on the employer-focused marketing team at Glassdoor, and everything I do is tied to quarterly goals. I know many still believe social media is all about awareness simply “too hard to measure,” but I strongly disagree. While not all social media channels will drive leads and revenue, you can always measure engagement. For example, Sprout Social, which I use daily, allows you to see what’s working, what isn’t and where you could improve. The reports section allows me to check great engagement metrics like clicks, responses, etc.
Whether you’re reporting on leads, pipeline, bookings or engagement metrics (clicks, replies, mentions, likes), find out what’s important to your team, then assign your Social Media Manager metrics to track. I believe people who have goals and know what they’re working toward perform better in their jobs. So look for someone with this mindset and love of metrics.
Lastly, keep in mind that the best Social Media Managers come from all different backgrounds and don’t necessarily need to boast five, seven or more years of experience on their resumes. I graduated from college just over a year ago and have managed the Glassdoor social accounts for the employer side of the house for the past year, growing our @GDforEmployers Twitter followers from 0 to 60,000 and massively increasing our blog traffic.
My advice? Focus on hiring the specific qualities and skills noted above—organization, planning, prioritization, researching, metrics driven—rather than focusing solely on experience levels and you’ll find a Social Media Manager who will add real value to your organization.