Sourcing a social media manager? Here are seven essential qualities to look for

  • Samantha CuffSocial media is revolutionizing the way businesses connect to their customers and prospects.  As this marketing channel grows, many companies are playing catching up and reaching out to employ people to manage their social media.  Samantha Cuff looks at the challenges.

    Hollis Thomases, President & CEO of Web Ad.vantage, recently took to the interweb to air her opinion on who should and shouldn't be employed to take up this role. Her article, 11 Reasons a 23-Year-Old Shouldn't Run Your Social Media, got a resoundingly negative response due to its lack of evidence, discriminating language and sweeping statements. You can maybe tell where I stand on the matter, but having just read the article, I feel compelled to write this one. I am not about to rebut every point Hollis Thomases made, as I'm sure the comments below her post adequately suffice, but instead I want to redirect the question to an arguably more useful proposition: what ARE the skills needed to work in social media management and WHO SHOULD run your social media accounts?

    1.       A tech savvy, social media nut

    So, you're looking to hire a social media manager and want to know what to look for. Let's start with the obvious. Your best bet is to look for someone who is a digital native or savvy digital immigrant (no ageism in this post), who understands the context of a digital world and who has both the technical and social media skills to succeed. Someone who doesn't know a Tweet from a Status or a Pin from a Post isn't going to get very far in the social cyber world.

    2.       Adaptability

    As well as being socially savvy in the cyber-sphere, any person employed to run a social media presence must be able to adapt to all the developments the internet throws at them.

    One of the biggest challenges with social media is that it is an ever evolving world. New sites are being created every month, all vying to tap into the social media market. The ability to use initiative and be open to new platforms is a must, as is learning how to engage with new interfaces on existing sites. Social media platforms often introduce new features without notice - not all of them initially popular with existing users.

    Someone who is able to go with the revolution and adapt to new and evolving sites will be able to ride the wave of the digital age and keep at its crest at all times.

    3.       Business acumen

    There is, however, another side to this coin. With new sites emerging all the time there comes with it a tendency to jump on every bandwagon that passes by.  Anyone managing and developing social media must be aware that not every platform is suitable for every business and dipping a finger in all of the pies can be just as fatal as ignoring them all.  An insight into what works for each business is a key skill for any social media manager.

    4.       A passion for media, marketing and lots of research

    Ultimately, a social media manager has two roles: on one hand, he or she is an online PR representative who works in networks not notepads.  They must be a journalist, a publisher and a relationship builder all rolled into one. Secondly they are your ‘go to' resource for targeting your online marketing campaign.

    Enthusiasm for engaging in the online world of communications and having a real passion for online media and marketing is a vital element of the job.  At the end of the day, sourcing and writing relevant articles, blogs and news items to post can be challenging and time consuming - as is knowing how to comment on the posts of others.  With the right passion, your social media manager will yield your business better rewards.

    5.       Clear, concise communication and an eye for detail

    Social media is all about communication. Whether it is in fewer than 140 characters or through inspiring images on a pin board, you are ultimately engaging with others to promote your business's image and opinions.

    Posts must be pertinent, easy to read and accurate.

    There can be no error in written communication when it comes to a company's branding and reputation. Even when posting to Twitter, Facebook or any of the other platforms, tight communication skills are essential.

    6.       Focus, Focus, Focus

    We all know that remaining focused throughout a task can sometimes be challenging, but when you mix in the constant temptation to drift off your target and into the realms of the internet, it can become even harder.

    Re-tweeting a competitor or unreliable source can be detrimental to any social media campaign and losing focus at any time can be costly and counterproductive.

    Having a clear focus and dedication to the task at hand is a skill that cannot be overlooked.

    7.       Strategic skills and an eye on the prize

    Finally, as with all marketing campaigns, a guiding strategy is central to its success. Knowing the aims and intended outcomes of the company's overall marketing strategy is a start towards creating a successful social media presence.  A logical approach and an appreciation of the bigger picture is an essential quality for any social media manager.

    There are many people, of ALL ages, that hold the skills to be a first class social media manager and could execute them effectively. The focus should not be on those who do not have them, but on those who do, as these are your potential social media managers.

    But as a final ode to Hollis Thomases I say this; A young man of about 21, founded a site called Facebook, you may use it at times to build your own business brand, or have noticed that it has over 1 billion users worldwide.  Just a small reminder perhaps, that without young bright forward thinking innovators, social media managers may not exist at all.

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