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Lee Odden

Hiring a Social Media Strategist – Essential Skills & Talents

By Lee Odden     Guest Posts, Online Marketing, Social Media

Command Center[Note from Lee: TopRank Marketing has been working with PRWeb for nearly 5 years and their Director of Public Relations, Frank Strong (Now serving in Egypt  – stay safe!), couldn’t say enough good things when they hired a new Social Media Community Manager, Stacey Acevero: Smart, passionate about the industry, highly motivated, sense of humor and a true fan of the brand, Stacey has embraced her role as the social media voice of PRWeb in many ways, from blogging to running #PRWebChat.

Stacey Acevero Many businesses are investing in their social media expertise by adding Social Media Strategist and Community Manager positions. To get an idea of what skills companies should look for,  I asked Stacey to share her first-hand insights with our readers.]

The One Job Your Company Really Needs

Being a community manager is certainly a coveted role in the industry (Read: “I get to sit on Facebook all day!”) but what most don’t realize is how much really goes into the role and the huge benefits to a company it can present. If you’ve been pondering the position and need a place to start in your search for a social strategist or community manager, take it from me:

10 reasons to hire a social strategist and community manager:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you’re not on social media, then you’re not where your audience is—and you’re missing out. The social media potential for brands is astonishing, and it includes:

  • An endless stream of information and trends that are happening in your industry
  • The chance to check out your competitors to evaluate what you are doing right (and potentially wrong)
  • The ability to engage one-on-one with your audience and form a more personal connection
  • Tracking mentions of your brand online so you can offer customer service through social media and answer inquires (as well as dispel myths)
  • Content creation and curation
  • Community-building
  • Increasing advocates of your brand through word of mouth marketing
  • The opportunity to increase trust and  credibility with your community
  • Social media can be used for sales
  • SEO

Characteristics and skills to look for when hiring:

The number-one skill to look for when hiring a social strategist and community manager is a genuine passion for social media. This means that they love to be active on social media and they are always looking for new tools and ways to engage. Experience should not be the number-one factor, because the field is still new! Other factors to look for:

  • Are they an early adopter of social media?
  • Do they use social media at various times of day (i.e. it’s easy to tweet while you’re at a computer all day at work, but do they tweet on evenings and weekends as well)?
  • Do they know how to use social media to its greatest potential (incorporating hashtags, using bit.ly to shorten links, using the thumbnail feature on Facebook to select a proper picture when linking to a post, etc.)?
  • Do they have a general understanding and involvement for the industry they want to be a community manager in (whether it is a degree or job experience)? Lots can be learned about the industry through their role as a community manager, and they will learn a lot along the way. That’s why I say a general understanding.
  • Do they have a curiosity and willingness to try new tools and platforms? There are so many more platforms out there than just Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. The emergence of new platforms such as Google + and the plethora of niche platforms such as forums creates an endless social media landscape, and they can’t be afraid to delve into those niches to find their audience. In addition, they should demonstrate experience in using new social media tools for integration, time management and organization across platforms (for example TweetDeck, Hootsuite, etc).

Tips on managing your community manager: Give them an outline of duties, let them loose and see how they do with it. Sit with them and run through their duties and point our opportunities they should be harnessing. Also, make sure you have a social media policy in place so they know what language and tone is acceptable. Also, ask them to be creative by writing blog posts and creating simple graphics for your brand. Periodically offering feedback on their posts and nudging them in the right direction is key to keeping them on track. My number-one rule here is to make sure they aren’t just broadcasting, and that they are engaging with the online community. Shouting from a bullhorn won’t get you anywhere.

Primary responsibilities:

  • Creating and implementing a social media strategy
  • Finding your brands target audience online
  • Engaging with the audience and building a tight-knit community (remember: quality, not quantity!)
  • Competitive analysis
  • Monitoring brand mentions: answer inquiries, provide customer service, dispel brand myths
  • Analytics: track month-to-month changes in social media statistics, find causes for rises/plummets and change strategy accordingly
  • Reward brand advocates to increase word of mouth marketing
  • Create a link between your brands social media presence and sales + customer retention

A social strategist and community manager should be able to integrate and work with other departments in your company, including PR, marketing, HR and sales. The best way to do this is to hold integrated training sessions where each department learns about the social media aspect of the company and works together on messaging and opportunities.

For a snapshot of what the workflow of a community manager should look like, check out my favorite infographic: A Day In the Life of a Social Media Manager


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