Almost every company is vaguely aware they need to develop a stronger social media presence—though they’re not always sure how or why. Similarly, they’re unsure what kind of talent they need to bring on to plan and execute an effective and profitable social strategy.
Social media management is a booming field quickly getting flooded by marketers and agencies promising you the moon—and not all of them can walk as well as they talk. When you’ve made the decision to hire a full time social media expert or try out social media staffing, look for these qualities to find the high-performing talent you need.
Do they Focus on ROI-Oriented Metrics?
Social marketing offers near-total measurement and trackability. The most visible of these is also the most useless: followers, friends, connections, or whatever the counterpart for a given social network happens to be.
Sure, it rarely hurts to have lots of followers. But the raw number you have has very little relationship to how effective your social strategy is. Followers are, quite literally, a dime a dozen—you can buy hundreds or thousands of them on the major networks for the price of a cup of coffee.
What really matters is ROI. Sometimes this can be directly measured through social; for instance, by tracking ecomm sales to customers driven to your shop via links from social. But if you don’t operate under that business model, you’ll have to rely on secondary metrics; interactions, comments, clicks to your content, etc. All these point much more strongly to an effective campaign than sheer follower volume.
Are They Blinded By the Major Networks?
You’ve doubtless heard of the major social networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like. These tend to form the foundation of any modern social strategy (if they start talking about their MySpace success, your warning bells should go off), and rightfully so.
But there are many others, both established and emerging, that are less well known. They often serve various professional or personal interest niches and cater to audiences that are difficult to reach on the major networks. Some rise and fall within a few months, but others persist with a small but consistent community. Developing a strong presence on these sites is often more cost-efficient than attempting to make connections in the crowded, competitive atmosphere of a larger site.
But you’ll never know about these opportunities if your future social manager doesn’t have a constant ear on the ground and isn’t constantly exploring new channels. Ask them what they think the next “big thing” will be and what smaller networks might be prime areas to develop a presence on.
Do They Play Well With Others?
To make the biggest impact, your social media efforts can’t exist in a silo. And neither can your social media managers. They work best in collaboration with the rest of your company—and not just your marketing. Social can enhance virtually every function of a corporation, from research and development to recruitment to lead generation to public relations.
There are many stakeholders at your organization that have a lot to gain or lose depending on the effectiveness of your social strategy. Your social manager must be able to collaborate with all of them, balance conflicting needs, and keep a finger on the pulse of your company. Ask them how they’ve worked in the past with various departments and parties to enhance their employer’s functions while preserving their brand. Follow up with references and past employers to see how well they work in a team environment and help others succeed.
What Success Have They Had with Paid Social?
Paid social—advertisements that crop up in users’ social feeds and pages—is a growing channel that marketers are still experimenting with mixed success. It may not be the best use of your budget now, but it shouldn’t be written off or ignored, either.
Find out what experience they have with paid social in various networks: what strategies they used to optimize and test messaging, audience segmentation and ad distribution.
How Do They Go Viral?
The dream of every social media manager is to produce and promote content that goes viral, spreading quickly across the web and gaining exponentially greater exposure than most of your content gets. You’ve probably seen a silly picture or amazing video or emotionally compelling blog post that all of your friends, family or coworkers are talking about. Putting your company’s content in that position can be a huge boost to your growth.
When it comes to virality, there’s a lot of skill and little bit of luck involved. Social media managers can’t always force content to go viral; they’re dependent of a perfect storm of conditions to come together and give their content momentum. But they can go to great lengths to create compelling, entertaining content and promoting it in a way that maximizes its chances of mass distribution.
Remember that you don’t have to be the next Ice Bucket Challenge or Harlem Shake to have a successful viral campaign. If your target audience is just a few thousand people or a handful of companies around the country, then sudden visibility to most of them is just as valuable as a cute cat video seen by millions of noncustomer teenagers.