I had a friend ask me a few questions recently about what I thought companies would be looking for when hiring a social media expert. He’s a freelance web guy here in Temecula and is considering applying for a position with one of the local car dealerships for a social media position. Our conversation was a bit short but it definitely got me thinking and wanting to write a post here to elaborate more on the subject. Keep in mind that this can be a pretty daunting subject and subjective to company, industry, local, channel and likely hundreds if not thousands of other variables. These are some broad opinions on the subject.
So, let’s get to it – what are companies looking for in a social media expert?
The ultimate conclusion that we came up with in our conversation was that companies are looking for someone that can increase public awareness and ultimately sales. I think a large part of what makes a person or team a good candidate for managing social marketing efforts for a company is being engaged in that specific companies industry and brand DNA. Being relevant. We’ve all heard it before – content is king. I think that concept is crucial in the social space except I would change it slightly. Relevant Content is King. And to take a quick step back, let’s dissect a bit… what is social content? What makes one piece of content – whether it’s an image or a blog post or a tweet or a status update or even better, a combination of all those – social? It’s not just where you put the content. It’s being relevant. Being a social media expert means being relevant in your targets space. Knowing what your audience is talking about and where they’re talking about it. Not just providing content but starting conversations and joining them as well.
Obviously there is a multitude of knowledge and understanding that pre-faces just being relevant. Knowing which social channels to engage and how often. Timing and frequency of engagements. Knowing how and when to automate multi-platform engagement. Knowing how to effectively manage community engagement. When and how to use social media as a customer support forum. The list goes on and on and changes extremely frequently. I think in order to fully understand most of what comprises the backbone of social media marketing there should be an underlying, fundamental knowledge of digital marketing as well as knowledge of basic web development, search engine optimization and web analytics. It’s one thing to be active in these social spaces but very different to be strategically active in these spaces in order to gain positive social awareness and ultimately sales for the brand you represent. It’s the difference of being able to identify your target audience in a sea of literally billions and funnel them correctly through to your sales channel and talking blindly with a lot of people that are not necessarily relevant to your efforts.
The one constant through all the intricacies, however, is content. Being effective in the social space means delivering relevant content to people that want, need and appreciate it. Delivering content that sparks interests, starts conversations and gets people talking. Being a social media expert means knowing when to use engaging images and/or video content as opposed to just text. Being able to generate the images, video and text is a huge plus. If you have some graphic design skills to bring to the table or video editing capabilities you’ll be that much more of a standout to a potential employer. If you have experience as a copywriter or blog writer/editor and especially a search conscious writer you’ll win some major points as well. I’d also suggest being up to date with the tools available for managing larger scale social accounts. A few to look into immediately if you haven’t are SproutSocial and HooteSuite. Also check out WildFire and familiarize yourself with the some of the more engaging marketing tools available. Be smart with the tools that are available and make yourself an asset.
Companies undoubtedly want to see some stats as well. It can’t be ignored. Have some ready, big or small. How you grew a local business’ social following by XX% and how much it cost to do make it happen. Show specific examples of growing audiences and conversations you’ve started. Some examples of image/video content you created and how you strategically fed it into the conversation. Show some examples of social contests you might have put together and some statistics on what sort of reach the campaign had. Be prepared with some insight into what trends you’re seeing in their industry and how you think they should be capitalizing on certain segments of social. Do your homework on the company and look for opportunities to grow their social presence, then put that plan into a visual presentation to illustrate your capabilities in information design. Info graphics work great for this.
Social media marketing is a fine art when done correctly but also gets more and more complex as you grow. If you want to succeed in the social space, be passionate about it and learn as much as you can. Learn to engage and make yourself relevant.