How to recruit a social media marketing manager

As the use of social media marketing in your organisation grows, the time commitment can start to become an issue.  Your social media strategy seems to be working, you’re getting likes, follows and comments, but managing your channels is taking up more and more of your valuable time.  Now is the time to consider employing a social media manager to take the task on.

Defining a new role and selecting the right candidate can seem a bit daunting, when there is no precedent and seemingly endless options for the skills and experience needed to do the job. Having been through this process and discovered some of the pitfalls here are some tips to help you on your way.

Start with your current social media activitiesSocial media activities

You may have plans to be the most talked about brand on Facebook, but in reality you are planning to employ somebody because you want them to take over the day job of managing your social media activities.

Start by documenting the daily tasks you undertake to manage your social media marketing activity. For example:

  • Posting regular updates to Twitter in line with the key themes agreed.
  • Responding to direct messages from all social media channels.
  • etc

Once you have those listed you have the broad outline of what the day-to-day of the social media job will be. It is really important to be honest here, as there is no point attracting a strategist if you actually want someone who will be happy posting daily updates. It won’t be fulfilling for the job holder and you will find that you are recruiting again sooner than expected.

Think about where you want to be

Next, consider how you would like to develop your social media marketing plans.  You may have a fixed goal in mind or just a vague notion of what you want. You may want your new recruit to be setting the vision for your social media activity, but as their employer you need to have a way of measuring whether they are effective in their job or not, so stick your neck out a little, even if it is something fairly generic:

  • Define a new social media marketing strategy with measurable goals,

or for the less ambitious:

  • Develop social media engagement plans to increase the number of interactions with our Facebook page.
  • etc

Pitching this too high might scare off some of your possible candidates, so make sure that what you are asking for is realistic to achieve.

Write up the job description

Write a formal job description, starting with the daily tasks. People perceive the first points on the JD to form the bulk of the work, so start with the regular activities. Lead on to the more strategic or stretch objectives for the role.

When you read the JD back to yourself does it sound realistic? Is it likely that one person could do all of that? Are the strategic and daily aspects of the role likely to be undertaken by the same person? If not, perhaps you should divide up the role into responsibilities held by different people (either new, or already within your organisation).

Skills, qualifications and experience

Every job description should be accompanied by a person specification which outlines the skills, qualifications and experience needed to do the job.  This document needs to be realistic – for instance, do they really need to have a degree to undertake this role? Secondly, a person specification is an important document to help you filter candidates as it can be used as a check-list to compare each application.

Consider what marketing qualifications and experience this person should have – particularly if you are looking for more strategic input to your activity.  There are plenty of people touting themselves as social media marketing experts who don’t even have the faintest understanding of marketing principles. If you are recruiting someone to do the day-job then that might not be such an issue.

When it comes to experience, I suggest asking for past experience in using social media to develop a brand, club or organisation. We can all use social media for our own purposes, sharing holiday photos and status updates.  It is a very different matter to employ social media tools to develop a brand, generate sales, or create engagement with a community.  Just because my kids can use watercolours doesn’t mean they’ll paint me a decent portrait, and it is the same in the social media world.

The ability to keep up to date with changing trends is an essential part of any social media manager role, regardless of level.  Given the market is innovating and shifting so rapidly you will need someone who can let you know if there is a new way of posting updates, or if a new social network is emerging that could be relevant for your brand. Include something about this in your person specification.

Full-time, part-time, contract or freelance

Do you need a person working for you full-time? Do they need to be based in your office or can they be home-based? Will you want to meet up with them or will you be happy to liaise via phone and email? Do you want to offer this role on a trial basis, would you be happy with a freelancer who billed you by the hour, or do you want someone who is dedicated to your company full-time?

Decide on answers to these questions before you advertise so that you can be specific about who you are looking for.  Check out the going-rate locally for similar types of roles before you decide on a salary. Whilst you are at it, compare your job description and person specification to what they are asking or, so that you can align your needs to what the market norms are.

Social Media ManagerThe selection process

A robust selection process will take up some of your valuable time, but if you do it properly it will repay you that time many times over.

You may want to use a recruitment agency to help you with the advertising of the role to ensure that you reach as many people as possible.  If you plan to handle it yourself then advertise your vacancy as widely as possible – ideally using the free tools you will be wanting the job holder to utilise.  Twitter is a great place for jobs, and if you are recruiting locally don’t forget the regional media.  It may be worth paying for sponsored posts to deliver greater visibility for your campaign.

Ask for a written application from every candidate and filter down to an interview shortlist. If you can hold physical interviews then do so, as it gives you the best opportunity to understand the candidate and see if you see eye to eye. If a physical meeting is not possible, then a Skype call or phone conversation could suffice.

Either way, ask the same questions to every candidate, based on the job description and person specification.  In particular, ask them about their experience of managing social media profiles in a business context.  A presentation is also an excellent way of sorting out who knows their stuff from the bluffers.

The small-print

When it comes to employing a person within your organisation, or making use of freelance resource, be sure to check out the legal and financial obligations on you as an employer. I am not an employment law specialist or a financial advisor, so please ensure that you obtain proper advice on those fronts before you employ anyone.

What if your recruitment process fails?

You’ve refined your job description, person specification and job advert yet you have not attracted the wonder-kid you expected to find. What has gone wrong?  Maybe you were asking for too much, or maybe the salary offered wasn’t right.

In one instance I did not appoint after the interviews as I didn’t find a candidate that I felt was right for the role. I re-wrote the job advert and received many more applications of a higher quality as a result.

It could be that any of the stages in your process let you down, or it could be that the language that you were using was not hitting the spot.  If it is not obvious ask for a second opinion from a colleague or trusted advisor.  Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can really help.

Welcome to the team

If you’ve recruited and found your ideal social media marketing manager, then congratulations! I look forward to hearing more about your organisation on the www! Just remember to set your employee some SMART objectives and measurable deliverables – it’s very easy to spend a lot of time on social media without making head-way.  Ask yourself how will you know if this person/role has been a success in 6 to 12 months’ time.

Free templates available

For advice on recruiting a social media marketing manager for your company, or for a template job description and person specification just get in touch.


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Filed under Digital, Management, Marketing, Social media

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