7 Questions To Ask When Hiring A Social Media Marketer

Tom earned his master’s in IMC from WVU and his bachelor’s in public relations from Utica College of Syracuse University. He joined the Site-Seeker team in 2013 as an account manager.

Beyond my normal 9-5 at Site-Seeker, I also teach social media marketing at Utica College. I often tell students that social media, though 10+ years old now, is still seen as the new kid on the block. Because of this, some seasoned marketers still frown upon social and the abilities needed to actually do it well, do it right, and generate results.

They either:

  • Don’t see the value, or
  • Don’t respect the work

Either way, those professionals are setting their departments/businesses up for failure. When you aren’t recognizing the importance of social as a key component, or maybe even the single most critical component of your marketing plan, you end up shirking your responsibilities when it comes to resources. That goes for both tools and people.

Recruiting fitting talent to perform social media for business may not seem like it’s hard. But it is. And here’s why:

Everyone thinks they can do social media.

SPOILER ALERT: They can’t. Not by a long shot.

As a [somewhat] young marketing professional, I’ve been lucky enough to be on both sides of the coin. I’ve applied, interviewed, and secured (and didn’t secure) social media jobs. And I’ve job posted, screened, interviewed, and hired for social media jobs. In both scenarios, I’ve picked up quite a few tips on the best ways to prove your social media knowhow and worth.

Here’s seven questions I always ask when interviewing a social media marketer:

1) What’s your education?

I’ve found that some of the most talented people in new media and digital marketing don’t have any formal education in these areas. However, I’ve often found people that do, have an advantage. They can look beyond the work itself and answer the “why.” Why is engagement important? It’s not the “like” that’s valuable; it’s the advocacy that’s slowly being created to draw in fans, cultivate them, and turn them into brand loyalists. Sure, someone without formal education can grasp these concepts with the right training. But academic education often creates that foundational understanding and the roots that tie social media to the rest of important business activities. You won’t need to worry about taking on that training yourself. Consider majors (or master’s) in marketing, public relations, or communications.

2) Do you have executing strengths?

At Site-Seeker, we use the Clifton StrengthsFinder test to determine both current and potential employees’ top strengths. This is important in hiring for the right position and placing people on projects where they will excel. If you use this test when hiring, ensure that social media marketing candidates have execution strengths (which is one of the four categories that strengths fall within). Social media is such a detail-oriented environment. There’s a lot of planning involved, but also so much to follow through on. If you have a strategic mind, are a creative dreamer, or are an individual who just can’t seem to put pen to paper – forget it. You need someone who has an innate talent in taking loose ideas and turning them into something real and tangible.

3) What channels have you managed on behalf of a business?

I brush my teeth every day, but that doesn’t make me a dental hygienist. Just because you post photos on your personal Instagram or live tweet during The Bachelor, it doesn’t even come close to describing your abilities in using social media for a brand. We’re talking about creating a unique and professional voice, posting with intention associated with a buyer persona and pre-created objectives, being meticulous over engagement and responses that can aid in brand storytelling. You don’t discount the work of a dentist or dental hygienist. Don’t discount the work of a social media marketer.

4) What are the top metrics you feel would measure success in a social program?

You need to determine if they can analyze web data. This is often the most under-appreciated side to social media marketing. I’d even go to the length of saying it’s the most important. The inexperienced professional will automatically defer to “likes” and “follows” as top metrics. But experienced inbound marketers know that social media is just another one of the many media used to reach business goals. Namely, social should drive conversions, and in most cases, this translates to web visitors, leads and online sales. See how candidates handle this question and allow them to elaborate on their experience and comfort level with handling data and turning it into usable information.

5) What are some social media tools or software that have worked for you in the past?

There are too many components of social media today to not rely on tools. Whether it’s SimplyMeasured, If This Then That, SproutSocial, BuzzSumo, Canva, etc – there are a ton of software options that not only allow marketers to be more efficient, but to get work done that would be nearly impossible if done manually. Quiz the candidate on the various tools that they know can potentially work to make for a more successful social program. If they don’t know of any, they probably need a bit more experience. On top of that, advertising is critical for social media in business today. I usually tell clients that if they don’t have a social media advertising budget, don’t even bother. The candidate should be well-versed in online advertising and know the best techniques in how to manage and carry out successful ad campaigns.

6) What type of proof can you provide to showcase your writing skills?

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a 1200-word blog post, or a 12-word tweet. Keen writing skills are crucial to everything we do in marketing. Research, putting information into an easy-to-understand way, writing to entice a share, a click, a purchase. Make sure you look at the candidate’s portfolio. There should be proof of sound writing skills and creativity. Look for example pieces of copywriting, blogs, email campaigns, or even formal writing like research projects.

7) What is your experience with creative work?

The only way to break through the crap, err, I mean clutter, is creativity. Think about it. What do you actually click on these days? You scroll through probably 100 videos on Facebook each day. 500 tweets. 50 snaps. Which ones do you actually take the time to watch or read? Or better yet, which ones do you actually recall an hour, a day, or a week later? The only pieces of content that work are those that are the most creative. Text, graphic, photo, video – it doesn’t matter the medium – it matters if it stands out (while also being relevant to the brand, industry, and goals of the campaign). Get a feel for the candidate’s creative work and experience. If they aren’t creative, they’ll likely fail hard in a social media role.

Based on all that above, consider some of the key skills needed for the most important jobs that social media marketers do on a regular basis:

 

Once you’ve given my seven questions some thought  – and any other interview questions that you deem as valuable to making sure the candidate(s) is a good fit for your company or organization – you’re ready to start recruiting.

  • Consider LinkedIn and Facebook as resources to locate talent. Since it’s a social media position, they should be using these tools already and have rich profiles.
  • Be careful about your job description, ensure that talent must be local (if that’s the case, or else you’ll get a lot of remote workers due to the nature of the job). They should provide a resume, cover letter, and portfolio (this will weed out bad apples, and provide proof of experience/skills). Be sure to deeply explore their social channels and website.
  • Take time to explore portfolio work and check into references.

Good luck and happy recruiting!