How to Hire a Social Media Manager

By Robert Half May 16, 2018 at 11:30pm

Nearly every business uses social media these days. In fact, your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn account may be the first interaction potential customers have with your product or service. As a result, businesses are on the lookout for skilled social media professionals to help grow and improve their online presence.

Social media managers need to have a varied blend of skills, including management experience, content and design savvy, strategic and analytical thinking skills and marketing expertise. They form the core of any social media team, and they’re likely the first hire you make before you expand the department as your needs grow.

Read on for helpful tips and advice about how to hire a social media manager.

Clearly define the role

First and foremost, you need to outline the job description associated with the role. Every case is different, but, to help you get started, here’s a list of what social media managers typically do:

  • Define and implement overall social media strategy
  • Drum up inbound traffic and product adoption
  • Lead teams that create social content and build communities
  • Report on the effectiveness of social media efforts using analytics tools
  • Work with internal marketing and public relations firms to ensure that social media acts as an extension of the company’s overarching marketing strategy

In addition, do you want your new social media manager to assist with launching a new product, work to build company audiences, help with recruiting? All of the above?

“It’s important to assess how much of the role is writing, community management or planning and strategy,” says Amy Mangan, vice president and division director at The Creative Group in Atlanta. “Understanding ahead of time the core of what you need this person to do day to day will help ensure you find a social media manager candidate that meets all of your business needs.”

Look for these skills and experience

Keep in mind that social media is still a relatively new field. While there are certain skills to look for on paper, relevant experience should count for a lot in your final evaluation.

Generally speaking, a candidate should have at least three years of experience in social media marketing and management, coupled with a degree in marketing, communications, business or a related field.

Companies are increasingly using data to inform business decisions and marketing strategy, so an applicant with a proven ability to interpret data and adjust strategies accordingly will give you a competitive edge.

Of course, you should look for experience with familiar social media networks, but also scan for candidates who are comfortable using industry standard tools, like Google Analytics, Klear, Buffer and Hootsuite. Experience in search engine optimization (SEO) and familiarity with Adobe Creative Suite is a big plus.

Dig deeper than technical proficiencies. Social media managers are expected to interact with different teams across the organization, including marketers and executives, so stellar communication skills are an absolute must. Of more than 400 advertising and marketing executives polled in a recent study, 23 percent said soft skills carry more weight than hard skills. Fifty-eight percent said they give both equal weight.

“Social media managers interact with the public as much as any of your employees, in a forum that is visible to virtually anyone,” says Kirt Zimmer, senior manager of social media for Robert Half (The Creative Group's parent company). “It’s important that they have maturity, patience, an understanding of the brand voice, and an interest in solving customer problems.”

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Ask the right questions

Once you have a short list of strong candidates, it’s time to move to the next step. In-person interviews allow you to learn more about your top candidates and gauge how well they will meet your needs.

Be sure to ask candidates about their past social media experience, and how they tend to structure and implement a strategy and then measure the results. Push for specific examples of past campaigns that were successful — and unsuccessful. Ask what they learned throughout the process.

Use a variety of question types to draw out different kinds of information. For example, hypothetical questions may help you predict how a candidate will react in certain situations, while off-the-wall questions will help you get to know their personality.

Zimmer notes that he likes to ask candidates which brands on social media the candidate admires – and why. “The answer can provide insights about what they think is important in social media marketing, and how they might behave in the role if hired,” he says.

Adds Zimmer: “Social media evolves at an incredible pace, so it requires practitioners who have not just a tolerance for change but rather an excitement about the opportunities change offers. To determine which camp they are in, ask them to talk about a time when they needed to adapt to a social media change and did so successfully.”

Finally, ask about their preferred work environment and arrangements. This can help you determine how well they will fit in with your current staff and mesh with your company’s culture. These questions can be invaluable in avoiding bad hires.

Do some extra digging

Prior to bringing candidates in, take a look at their personal social media profiles. After all, if they’re going to be in charge of your company’s accounts, they should be active on their own across a variety of channels. Look for candidates who utilize a range of networks and whose profiles are impressive, current and well maintained.

Offer the right compensation

“The unemployment rate for social media managers is at an all-time low right now, so it’s best to start with a competitive rate for your location,” Mangan says. “Social media managers have highly in-demand skill sets and if you find the right person, you should act quickly and make a competitive offer.” If you don’t move fast enough, you risk losing the candidate and wasting precious time and resources in a lengthy interview process, or, worse, a failed search.

The midpoint salary for a social media manager in the United States is $57,750, according to The Creative Group 2019 Salary Guide. Candidates with extensive skills and experience, or those working for large agencies in urban areas, may earn up to $98,250. When it comes to closing the deal with your preferred candidate, salary is key.

If you don’t have the budget to be flexible on salary, you may need to consider offering more nonmonetary benefits to attract skilled candidates. Sometimes, unique perks and incentives can make up for a slightly lower salary. If your company offers flexible work arrangements, additional vacation time or attractive extras like free gym memberships, advertise them. Many candidates are looking beyond salary when making decisions, especially if they’re entertaining multiple offers.

This post has been updated to reflect more current information.

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