Lee Odden

Hiring a Social Media Strategist – Essential Skills & Talents

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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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Avatar Rxadvices rxadvices says

    You are absolutely brilliant and spot on.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. I find it interesting that all of the skills you list as required are:
    are they geeks, do they know your audience?
    Then, the responsibilities go way beyond that into analytics, research, SWOT, etc.
    A little different no?

    You forgot:
    knows how to create content
    excellent written and oral communication skills
    comfortable with technology
    experience with a CMS
    Basic Photoshop and Quicktime skills
    good story teller

    • mdurwin, thanks for making those recommendations. 

      What I asked Stacey to share was her personal experience with the position. It’s not a generalization for all companies. I think each company might have slightly or significantly different needs from their Social Media Strategist(s) and Social Media Community Managers. 

      There’s no question content creation is a big part of the role and they are cited in my introduction of Stacey’s work at the top of the post. PRWeb’s social participation is very content centric and Stacey is behind all of it. #client

    • Those are definitely expected requirements as well! When Lee asked me to write this article, I found it tough to get it all down in just one blog without making it a novel–so I decided to include some of the less-thought of requirements. I would absolutely add these to my list. Thanks for commenting mdurwin 🙂 It’s also worth noting that a lot of what a community manager or social media strategist does is actually learned/acquired on the job. 

  3. The Twitter counter on this post isn’t working for some reason – we recently updated the widget and are working to fix. There are hundreds of retweets so far. Great job @sacevero:twitter 

  4. Avatar Edwin Ivanauskas says

    Great post. I particularly like / agree with the idea that to be effective, social media positions should be integrated with other facets of the business.

  5. These are all very good points. For me, the second to last paragraph is very important. Being able to integrate and work across disciplines, and what in many, especially larger, companies are still silos is an essential skill. This requires more than just knowledge of and passion for social media, but a general business experience, preferably in marketing.

  6. A good social strategist is someone who  has a feel for the newest trends in the industry, and isn’t afraid to try them out or apply them to the account that he or she’s in charge off.

  7. Stacey is definitely a rock star and I still can’t say enough good things about her, Lee!  Congrats, Stacey on a great post!   Can’t wait to work with you again soon.

  8. Thanks for this nice post. Nevertheless, I don’t agree with you characteristics and skills part. There is a difference between the characteristics and the skills of a Social Media strategist and the community manager. You can compare the strategist to the architect and the community manager as the builder. Therefore the skills should be different but

    The architect is the one who designs the house, recommends materials and defines the structure within a given budget. The builder builds the house based on the architects plan. This is where the term Social media architect seems more appropriate to me.

    The architect has experience in marketing and digital media, understand the use of the different tools and the impact and the reach those tools can have on the brand and the business. Therefore he needs to be a geek till a certain level, but more specifically, be an expert in digital marketing.

    The community manager implements the tools according to the strategy and knows the business/subject in detail, he talks, interacts, creates engagement. The skills you mention in your post seem more appropriate for a community manager than for the architect.

  9. Avatar Michelle Weaver says

    Why thank you for this awesome blog!!  Props to Social Media!!

  10. Building a business on any type of social media service takes a light touch and an experienced mindset. Unfortunately not everyone can boast having both of these attributes. If a small time businessman includes himself/herself in the equation than that usually turns out to be a recipe for disaster. No one can think of managing a social media business presence without the aid of relevant management skills. You can opt to hire a social media manager to do the job for you which helps lesson the learning curve and saves you tons of hours.