What to Look for in a Social Media Manager

social media background

If you’ve decided it’s time to hire a social media manager, not just any person will do. It’s tempting to ask someone who’s already working for you to take over the responsibilities for you, but that isn’t a good idea. You’ll likely overwhelm them with work, especially because social media management is more complex than scheduling a bunch of posts to share across social media platforms.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social media “specialists” are part of public relations. Other possible job titles include: online community manager, digital engagement specialist, and social media strategist. In May 2015, BLS said there were 2018,910 public relation specials working in wage and salary jobs with a median salary of $56,770. When you consider the average median salary of workers in the U.S. is 6,200, and there are many others working in the field as self-employed individuals, there’s a lot of opportunity for social media professionals.

What do you need to look for when hiring one for your business?


Someone Who Really Knows Social Media

I hate to be Captain Obvious here, but just having a Facebook and Twitter account doesn’t mean you know social media. To make sure they really know their stuff, ask them a few questions:

  • What social media platforms should we be using and why?
  • What are the two most important metrics we should be measuring, and why?
  • What’s the difference between a social marketing environment and a social customer service environment?
  • What’s the most important thing you as a social media manager should be doing?

If they really know what they’re doing, they will be able to describe your business in three words; they will have done their homework before meeting with you. As such, they should know which platforms you should focus on and why.

They should tell you to measure engagement and leads, because fans and followers who are just there – doing nothing – do nothing to help grow your business. If they don’t, they may not be as experienced as you need them to be.

They should tell you the marketing environment allows them to be more conversational because social isn’t focusing on the sale, but recognizing where the person is in the buyer journey and helping them get to their destination. They should tell you the social customer service environment requires the ability to resolve conflict, along with patience and empathy.

They should tell you their most important job is social listening – monitoring what people are saying – and then engaging accordingly so people know your business cares.


Someone Who Is Organized

Of course being organized is important, but it doesn’t have to be your top priority when choosing your candidate. You want someone who can make to do lists, and communicate effectively with the rest of the team. You’ll want someone who not only knows how to quickly and easily create their social editorial calendar, but one who is organized enough to spontaneously deviate from it should there be a call to do so.

That organization should involve everything from brainstorming ideas for content, to communicating with other members of the team, and testing, measuring, and analyzing. It means knowing how to use social listening tools like Google Alerts and Mention to see what your audience is saying, and knowing how to respond appropriately. It means taking time every day to look at what needs to be done, and asking for help when it’s necessary…. It means doing whatever it takes to get the job done.


Someone Who Knows How to Prioritize

There are so many things to do as part of social media management, it can be hard to keep up with everything. There’s a lot of room for wasted time, which means you’re paying for the manager to get distracted, to focus on things that aren’t necessarily the most important tasks, and so on. Yeah, some say prioritizing goes hand in hand with organization, but I think it’s worthy of a separate mention. Just because someone is organized doesn’t always mean they know what should be done first, and what’s the most important thing to accomplish before the end of the day, the end of the week, the month, or the quarter.

The ability to know what is important and what can wait makes all the difference in your social media manager. Your manager will get bombarded with requests for tweets, Facebook posts, blog posts, and more. That means they must be able to think on their feet in the short term, but also be able to see the bigger picture of the long term, too. It’s important for the person you hire to be able to know the difference between what has to be done right this second, and what can wait till tomorrow, or net week. Encourage your new hire to create “do now” and “can wait” sections on their to do lists. Without those priorities, the random requests could easily get in the way of more important tasks that need to be done first.


Someone Who Can Research Well

Social media is always in a state of flux. Whether it’s because a new network hit the scene or an existing network added features, or changed the rules, again, the ideal social media manager must be able to research and learn, so they know how to adjust strategy when necessary. Not only must they be able to stay on top of industry news and trends, but they must be able to research and identify quality content for curation.

The majority of your social media content cannot originate with you, if you want to make sure you’re not being overly promotional. This means your social media manager needs to take time to find content from other sources that will be useful and/or entertaining for your audience.

The content curation phase involves research, but also involves organization. With efficient use of content curation tools, it is reasonable to expect your social media manager to easily find stuff to share on all your social media networks.

Your ideal social media manager should also be keeping a swipe file with information that will help them get things done. The swipe file should be a collection of things that are tested and proven, and it should include headlines, graphics, and other frameworks. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. It’s okay to copy what has worked well for others in the past, so long as you’re not blatantly doing it – adding your own spin to it, or at least giving credit where credit is due.

Your social media manager should be collecting images to use for inspiration, creating templates in Canva to make social media image creation easier on the fly, stock photos – and know where to go to get the best free ones – examples of social media posts that have done well, and more.


How to Find Qualified Candidates to Fill Your Position

Start buy asking your friends; there is a good chance they know someone or have worked with someone they’d be happy to recommend. Many social media managers work for multiple clients at a time if they’re self-employed. If you’re not in a position to hire an employee and need to go the contractor route, this could be the best way to go.

Post your job listing online, on popular job listing websites like Guru, Upwork, and Simply Hired, but also in social media groups and websites like Facebook and LinkedIn. You can jump in the group and ask for recommendations, or you can find a social media job group and post an ad of sorts.

In the listing, outline what you’re looking for in a candidate – and include the platforms you expect them to use and be proficient with. You don’t have to worry about discussing goals out right in the listing, as you may not want to share those until you’re at the interview stage.


What To Do When Applicants Apply

Closely examine their social media profiles. Someone who is going to earning a living managing your social media presence should definitely have one of their own. If they don’t, move onto the next applicant. There are a lot of people out there who claim to be social media experts who don’t have social media profiles. And even some “experts” with social media profiles haven’t’ posted in months or years. Look at how often they post, the quality of the content they post, and the way they carry themselves.

Ask them to show you their portfolio, and provide testimonials from past clients. It’s hard to verify the past experience of course, since social media accounts don’t say who is behind them. However, it’s a good idea to ask them for links to the social media profiles they manage, so you can see the kind of material they’ve posted in the past, and see how a strategy has come together. It’s always a plus if they can get a testimonial from the businesses they are managing.

If your applicant doesn’t have any kind of experience, it of course means more work for you, but the experience has to come from somewhere. You can consider letting them work for you on a trial basis, and use the answers to their questions in point number one to help you decide whether or not you want to give them the chance.

After you’ve let them see your social accounts and told them what your goals are, they should be willing to provide some kind of strategy to show you how they will help you achieve those goals. Then, make sure you are clear on the goals and how you expect the reporting to take place.


Ready to Roll?

Once you’re happy with all that, it’s time to talk pricing. Because social media isn’t something you can see results in advance – and it’s hard to edit after the fact, it’s best for your business if you avoid long term contracts. Opting for month-to-month pricing ensures that if things don’t work out the way you hope, you can move on to another social media manager.

Have you ever hired a social media manager before? What has your experience been? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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SEO virtuoso, CEO @Sachs Marketing Group. Focused on being of service to business owners - helping to better position them in the eyes of their audiences.

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