Today I had a friend inquire about hiring a marketing professional with deep knowledge and skill sets using social media. The post immediately spurred two questions in my mind. They were….
1. If I had to build a great digitally savvy social media marketer what would the components look like? I actually hesitate a bit here using the term social as that should really be a part of a bigger whole but for the purposes of this article lets focus on social media specific skills.
2. Why are decision makers always adding “Social Media Skills” as a caveat in their marketing position listings?
We’ll cover question number one today and number two after the new year. This list is not meant to be comprehensive as much as it is meant to identify the things that set professionals apart. It will also highlight those items that are so often overlooked by employers when vetting potential candidates.
In My Experience
For question number one it is actually a bit funny in that I have been around this space for so long that it is more faces that come to mind than anything. There are very few people in this digital and social space that recognize the opportunity, understand the community and network ethics and can leverage the technologies in a way that pays ROI. The others just hop from job to job and ask a lot of the same questions. For those of you who are seeking positions in this ever growing space I’ll give you a recommendation that Chris Brogan gave me many years ago when I asked him how to break in. He told me that the best way to get in was to work with a charity and offer my services and expertise to help build credibility and experience. I did that and still do to this day. I love giving back!
Component Number One – Writing
This sounds like a simple skill and one that most people need but if you are hiring someone to be the face of your organization in the digital and social media space they’d better be able to write. How about a test? Hiring a social media pro for the first time? Get some samples. Ask him or her to write a press release, a blog post and a short form teaser that would get posted to something like Facebook or Twitter. Ask your candidate to write a response plan for someone who might be complaining about your business on their blog or social media homepage. These are things that will highlight inconsistencies and quickly reveal inadequacies. Hopefully your candidates pass with flying colors. If they do move on to….
Component Number Two – Monitoring
I can’t tell you how many times (hundreds) supposed social media gurus would hit me up with questions on and recommendations for tools to monitor social channels immediately following their hire. Now, I am not talking about collaborative recommendations but rather “How, What and Why” questions regarding monitoring. When I get these questions from a director of digital or Social media director then I start wondering how they were hired in the first place. I’m more than happy to recommend products or make feature comparisons but unfortunately I cannot write your listening and monitoring strategy. Darn, this post is sounding selfish and I don’t mean it to. However, as an employer ask your potential candidates what kind of monitoring tools they have used in the past and maybe even ask them do demonstrate a simple social search for your brand. Even better, locate an opportunity for your brand to engage with the community.
Component Number Three – Measurement
I bet one in every hundred self proclaimed social media expert knows how to deploy an instance of Google Analytics to a blog. It is probably less that understand how to interpret the data to inform any kind of decision making. If you are in the digital space and you have zero capabilities in analytics I’d highly recommend at minimum taking the Google Analytics IQ certification. Now maybe your digital marketing person will have people that will handle the analytics implementation and interpretation but in my experience these situations are rare. The biggest reason for the short half life of a social media professional is because they have no clue how to measure results and inform or impact the business through data. The boss might think he or she is looking for someone specifically to send tweets or Facebook updates but it wont be long before they are asking how this activity is impacting the business.
Sidebar: I also think that in many cases monitoring and measurement are clumped together. This should NEVER be the case. Measurement skills do not include counting mentions and number of followers unless these metrics are in some way impacting the business bottom line.
Component Number Four – The Human Droid
Ok, so you aren’t really looking for a droid. Well, maybe you are…who knows. The point here is that any marketing person must be half human (real person/outgoing) and half technologist (droid/tech guru). These people are hard to find. Would you typically send your tech team out for a physical event? Usually not. There are the rare few but in my experience the guys behind the computer screens making everything work are not usually filling roles in the PR department. However, in this new age of marketing you need a person whom at the very least understands what an API is while at the same time can shake hands at a trade show or company event. This person needs to understand the inner workings (Insights, Ad’s, API, User Permissions) and rules of a network like Facebook as much as they understand how to post an update to the page. These are the things that I see constantly overlooked. Has your candidate ever administered a company Facebook page? Can they report on insights? Can they even find the page insights? Can they leverage possible ad opportunities? These factors in my opinion are much more important than having the ability to post an update or a response.
What do you look for when hiring a digital media professional? I hope this list gives potential employers as well as potential candidates some areas to focus on and think about in the new year. The industry will mature faster when employers know what to look for and employees know what to train for.