How to Hire a Social Media Strategist: Tips for Small Businesses


by Heike Young, via Exact Target |

In this interview with Ben Conoley, Senior Marketing Consultant at Salesforce Marketing Cloud, we discuss the qualities and skills you should look for in hiring a social media strategist.

Heike: What’s important to consider when you begin planning to hire a social media strategist or manager?

Ben: You want to look for someone with experience in your actual industry, with communication and design skills if possible, who has broad skills in areas outside of marketing. Social media requires a lot of customer service understanding, not just understanding of communications and marketing. As you’re sifting through resumes, look for people with a wide range of skills who have been part of different projects.

Right now it’s actually quite easy to find people with social media experience; five years ago it wasn’t.

Heike: What are the top three abilities or skills that a great candidate should have?

Ben: Number one is analytical skills. It’s great to be able to create and post great content, but it’s another to understand what’s working and what isn’t. The second would be paying attention to detail. Little things like grammatical mistakes can make your company look bad on social media. Third is that you have to actually like customers and talking to them. In fact, this might be the most important quality of all.

Heike: What questions would you ask a potential social media strategist in an interview?

Ben: Which response would be best in a bad situation? How would you measure the success of a campaign?  How would you measure the success of a Facebook presence? What suggestions would you make to improve our current account? How would you actually go about growing our account? Which social brands do you like and admire?

Heike: What advice would you give small businesses specifically, who may only be able to afford one social media employee?

Ben: When you hire someone for social media, you’re hiring someone who’s doing the online equivalent of designing your billboards. The cheapest person to manage your accounts may not be the best. Do try to find someone with experience and measurable results.

Heike: Is it relevant to look at the applicant’s personal social media accounts, even if the company for which they’d be posting is vastly different?

Ben: I’d definitely look at their own social media accounts. Of course, don’t ask them for their Facebook password when they come in for an interview, but understand that someone’s lack of a social presence or a poor social presence could be a red flag.

Social media can be an opportunity for a lot of fun engagement, but it ultimately has a business side. You want an employee who can connect a social presence with brick and mortar businesses, and if applicable, could produce social content to get people into stores or elsewhere. It’s great to have a lot of fans or followers, but it’s more important to get them to take action. A goal-driven social media strategist will help you do that.

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