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Filling That Social Media Job: 7 Ways to Get It Wrong

Hiring someone to manage your company's social media? Don't make the same mistakes everyone else is making.

These days, it seems like everyone's looking to hire someone to manage their company's social media presence. That kind of demand can lead to poor hiring decisions. Why? Well, you may be impressed when you see someone's extensive Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest presence. But just because someone can use social media for personal benefit doesn't mean they know how to manage it for a business.

To help business owners better identify what to look for in a  social media job candidate, I recently interviewed William Ward, social media professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. According to Ward, these are the seven most common social media hiring mistakes.

1. Don't conflate personal and professional. Ward says smaller businesses commonly make the mistake of confusing personal social media fluency with social media professionalism, and there's a notable difference. A social media professional should be able to describe how they select, curate and/or create content; how, who and why they select followers and connections; and how they integrate social media initiatives with other media.

You should ask what kind of professional social media training and certifications candidates have. Candidates with proper training and who demonstrate maturity, Ward says, make better hires.

2. Don't take their word for it. Instead of drawing assumptions about a candidate's social media experience, Ward stresses that you want them to log into their social media accounts with you--have them show you what they do professionally. "Do not rely on their word of mouth or resume," cautions Ward. Instead, have candidates walk you through the social media management tools they use and justify why they choose them. (Ward's program, for example, uses HootSuite to manage many of his students' social media activities).

3. Don't ignore inconsistencies. Ward advises employers to check out both the professional and the personal social media accounts of candidates you're considering; if you see breaches in social media etiquette or inappropriate conversations, posting or updates, that's a red flag. If someone is going to represent your business online, that person should also be able to demonstrate restraint and decorum in their personal social media accounts as well.

4. Don't shun mistakes. With the public nature of social media, it's almost impossible for someone experienced to not have made a least a minor mistake along the way. Ward says that every candidate should cop to some kind of faux pas, but more importantly, be able to explain what she learned from that mistake. What you learn from the confession can also help you, even if you don't hire that person.

5. Don't forget the point.  A social media professional should know how to track and translate their efforts into real world actions, how to measure the impact of these efforts, and how to refine initiatives based on performance. Ward recommends that you ask social media job candidates to describe campaigns in detail: which of their activities drove actions or sales and what their specific plans and outcomes were.

6. Don't forget the strategy. The person who runs your social media will bear large responsibility for the public voice of your company. It's up to you and other company leaders to establish the appropriate criteria and boundaries for your social media specialist. Don't just give your social media hire free reign to do whatever he wants. Your social media strategy should align with and support your business objectives, which this person will need to understand in order to develop and execute a strategy. "I'm not a big proponent of 'do not's' as much as I am of 'do's," says Ward.

7. Don't turn your back. If you expect a social media hire to perform to a certain standard, it's up to you to tell them what your campaign and job performance expectations are and what the consequences will be if they don't reach them. "To achieve this, you'll need to routinely monitor the activity your social media hire does on your company's behalf and have regular communications with him or her," explains Ward. In other words, don't just turn a blind eye and expect everything on social media accounts to run smoothly without your oversight.

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Last updated: Dec 27, 2012

HOLLIS THOMASES | Columnist | President & CEO, Web Ad.vantage

Client advocate, digital strategist, and thought leader Hollis Thomases, founder of Web Ad.vantage, helps companies navigate the complexity of the ever-changing digital marketing landscape and develop digital strategies.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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