Hiring for Social Media roles – Puseletso Mompei

Finding the perfect fit for social media roles ranging from executives such as Social Media Directors, to more junior positions such as Content Creators, Customer Service Representatives or Bloggers can be challenging because quite simply, a lot of these positions only came into existence recently and finding the right talent can be tricky.

Social media hires in 2012 and going forward are set to rise, and because the pool of people who started and grew their career purely in social media are rare, recruiters will have to select candidates based on a more indirect set of skills than they would for more traditional roles. Here’s what to look out for.

Communications experience

On a basic level, you want someone who has a proven understanding of traditional media, public relations or marketing. Because social media works within the context of the ‘real’ world, a keen understanding of audience segmentation, market needs and how teams such as sales, event management and marketing’s functions feed into each other, is key.

Relevant business skills

Each role’s specific requirements will, for instance, inform whether experience in the B2B space versus B2C skills weighs in more heavily. Someone who has analytical skills is valuable across the board, because regardless of whether the position is senior and strategic, or more junior and operational, the candidate should be able to quickly spot trends, patterns and interpret what is happening in the ultra-dynamic social media space.

The candidate should be conversant on how companies and individuals who succeed on social platforms do so, supported with a clear business case for each, beyond being ‘liked’ or being popular.

Individual experience

The candidate should be up-to date on what is happening on and be active on relevant social media platforms. A ‘living’ track record illustrates his/her quality of interaction. Be sure not to merely focus on quantity, i.e., his/her number of followers or friends, as the size of a network can be falsified; look more at the quality of his/her interactions to see how they interact various people, and respond to feedback.

Personal character

Broadly speaking, you want your social media team to be composed of people who thrive in a 24/7 connected environment because being ‘on’ all the time comes with the territory. If your candidate is likely to get stressed by fielding comments at 10am on Sunday morning, or supporting junior staff members with a crisis at midnight, then they will not make a good candidate.

Look for candidates who are emotionally intelligent, have the ability to operate calmly in a crisis and will not rise to taunts. Twitter wars are on the rise and when entrusting someone with a company’s reputation, you need to be sure that they will resist the urge to tell people off or put them in their place.

There is no one-size fits all for social media hires, therefore it is essential that as a recruiter you have a very clear idea of the skills the job requires. You will often need to see how expertise derived from traditional roles, can be translated to working in the social media arena.

Puseletso Mompei is a Communications Consultant and Trainer. She offers Communications and Media training for corporate executives, spokespersons, managers, entrepreneurs, government officials, diplomats, academia and public relations officers. Contact her at [email protected], or visit www.kwazicommunications.co.za for more information.