When you are looking for someone to manage your social media efforts, the standard corporate hiring practices should go out the window. This is a person who is going to be in charge of relationships and building trust. This person will be experiencing unpredictable and uncontrollable interactions on a daily basis with the people who are most important to you.. You can’t rely on the traditional job descriptions where cliches like “verbal communications skills” and template-driven job requirements.
Here is a list of what to look for in someone who will be responsible for overseeing the day to day communications in social media:
The passion should be for the product and for the lifestyle related to the product. There has been talk of hiring journalists as bloggers, for example, but what’s more important is someone who is immersed in your product or service. If you have to make a choice between a seasoned journalist who needs to be trained in your business and the passionate consumer who is a capable writer, go for the passion.
Caring comes through in social media. This job is about more than a to do list. And the caring I’m talking about is not for the job but for the people in the community. Even a hint of a jaundiced attitude about the people who use your product will come through in the long term, ongoing conversations that happen online. The person who shares on social media should have a deep desire to serve the interests of others like her.
This is one of the most important qualities of every employee. Without it their work will be prosaic and predictable. A great social media community manager wonders about why things are the way they are and why people say the things they say. She questions how they can better serve their community every single day, looking for answers to questions that people ask. She devours articles about social media and relishes trying new platforms. Curiosity is what moves people to create. This brings us to the next requirement.
Social media is about being creative with words and images. People are so bombarded with content that if you find yourself saying words you’ve heard before in a tweet or blog, or your images are not exciting, they will tune out. The social media manager should push the boundaries of what a corporation usually says and does and should push them in a direction that surprises and delights..
As with relationships in real life, success in social media means listening well. Listening well means that the conversation goes both ways. You can’t post or blog and not read the comments or respond to them. The curious listener wonders what is going on beyond the surface of the conversation. She is not avoid the controversy that naturally comes up but addresses it head on.
Don’t wait for the person whose job is “analyst” to analyze Facebook insights, scan Google Analytics or evaluate the history of peoples’ retweets and clicks. Every day, the social media manager needs to be able to a) be curious enough to wonder how her conversations were effecting people and b) care enough to constantly improve to figure out what is resonating and what isn’t. Looking at the analytics is an integral part of this job and the social media manager should not be afraid of charts and graphs. On the contrary, she should crave the information.
This involves the ability to read people’s emotions in their words and responses. It’s even trickier online than with in-person communication because there is no body language. Mere text comments don’t convey much of what people are communicating but that’s all you have to work with . A community manager has to “read” the signs and interpret how people feel based on the content of their responses and has to respond accordingly. An emotionally intelligent person does not take things personally or get upset easily or she will say inappropriate things in response to the critical customers.
Just kidding. After the blooper of a position that social media marketers should be under 25, the only thing I can say about age is that your social media communicators should represent your customers in every way possible. If all of your customers are teenage boys then you may want to consider the wisdom of hiring a 40 year old former librarian to tweet for you. But age is not usually the point. The best social media communications are about a mindset and a lifestyle first and foremost.
Take a look at the job requirements of the people handling social media and the questions you ask when hiring. Are they designed to filter for these skills? Social media marketing is a relatively new discipline. Rethinking how we hire for these key positions will lay the groundwork for successfully integrating social media into your business.