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Insider’s Guide to Hiring a Social Media Manager

Many small business and nonprofit leaders don’t really have time to micromanage every aspect of the workload. This is why, in my opinion, it’s very smart to hire those with a more entrepreneurial spirit. Employees who push themselves to learn more, desire to do great work and can become truly invested in the success or failure of your business.

With the emergence of the internet, mobile and social media, you leaders know you need to embrace these tools that the mainstream has shifted to. But getting up to par might feel like an uphill battle, so you’ll need to hire a person who is well adjusted. But, how do you find the right one?

Do your homework:

A 2006 survey of 100 executive recruiters by job search and recruiting network ExecuNet found that 77 percent use search engines to learn about candidates.

Consider empowering yourself to learn about the candidate. I’d never suggest using this as the ultimate decider, but using search engines to find out more about your candidates can help you figure out who would be the best fit for your toy store or brewery.

Social Butterflies Required:

I have been mentioned this before, but when “likes and retweets are strong indicators of a company’s trustworthiness for 33 percent of respondents,” you want to have someone who understands how to move and shake through the social webs of the digital sphere.

I worked for a client last year who’s contact for me was their community manager, but he didn’t even know how to use Twitter. I was thrown off and asked why he was managing the social aspect of the entire brand if he didn’t truly know what he was doing, he said they moved him over and it seemed like a natural fit. This was not a natural fit.

When you research potential applicants, see how much they naturally chat through their social platforms. Most who are apt and naturally social, won’t shut up. I’m a good example of this, and in my day to day, I have no issues picking up conversation with a stranger.

Early Adopter:

The ideal candidate adopts early, and adopts often. This one is a tougher one to gauge, because as a leader of your business and your limited time, you don’t have the time to figure out which new platforms exist and whether applicants are using them.

Try this:

  • Which growing platforms or technologies do you currently use?
  • Which of these you just listed are your favorite/most fun?

Having them noted, you can go and do your own research. If there appears to be trending conversations surrounding the platforms you can grasp the idea that the candidate actually knows a few things about emerging apps, social platforms and technology. This is someone you desire. You don’t want a person who waits for it to be “safe” to jump on Instagram, they need to have the insight that Instagram can become something visually entertaining for your business/brand/nonprofit.

It also requires some balls to be able to stand up and say we need to use this, create content to support it and use this tool to extend the brands stories. Most can fear failure, but if it fails they can be the one to say we tested, it didn’t work, let’s move forward.

Story Tellers:

Strictly managing networks doesn’t work anymore. Facebook limits your distribution unless you pay, Twitter ads extend the awareness of your tweets and all the other larger ones have something in play to work as well. To gain the most traction, you need to provide value to the consumer. Consider telling the story of your brand, much like The Perennial Plate that tells beautiful food stories from across the world.

The Perennial Plate Episode 70: The Cows and The Horses from The Perennial Plate on Vimeo.

The candidate you are looking for can tell a story from anything. Get to know them, ask them about their favorite adventure. Ask them if they can write.

Stories can be communicated through images, a la Instagram, or video, think Vine or YouTube. You don’t have to own the best camera in the world, an iPhone and a Droid can work amazing. In fact, many of the tools one would use to tell stories, don’t allow an upload to them, you must shoot straight from the phone.

Look for a story teller that believes in uniformity, consistency and listener (consumer) value.


As with the early adopter, they have to have the insight to draw conclusions from many unique variables. Reddit doesn’t offer analytics, how do you determine something to be a success? One has to have the understanding to find wins, or failures, out of anything.

Social media is tough, because it’s more about the long term relationship rather than the instant gratification. So finding numbers to help you nurture your business and thrive based on longevity is essential to your marketing.

Overall, you want someone that can wear many hats and find solutions. Your cousin coming straight out of high school isn’t always the best option. At times, sure they might be, but using Facebook doesn’t qualify a candidate.

Danny Schotthoefer is a social strategist on the Old Spice team at Wieden+Kennedy. He was also a TEDx event organizer and is an avid Oregon Ducks and Portland Trailblazers fan. You can also find him running via Nike+ and cycling via Strava – he is highly social. Follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn. Forewarning: He Talks A LOT!

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