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With most companies today, large or small, social media is becoming an ever present necessity in managing and maintaining brand awareness and customer relations.

And, whether you are looking internally, creating a new position, or exploring the possibility of outsourcing, interviewing and ultimately hiring a Social Media Manager or Community Manager to oversee your online presence can be a daunting task.

So where do you start, what do you look for, and what questions should you ask during the interview to evaluate if they will be effective managing your company’s presence?

First and foremost, you have to decide what you want to achieve with your social media presence.  What you want to achieve will directly influence the types of questions you should pursue asking in the interview.

Every person’s areas of experience and expertise in this field differ as the medium itself is always in constant flux.

To understand the basic experience of the person you are hiring, and to make sure their personality, skills, and experience are a fit for your brand, start with a few basic questions to get a feel for the applicant:

The Basics

What is your experience managing multiple social media accounts?
Can you name one event you are particularly proud of, which also describes you as a person?
How do you stay on top of the latest innovations in social media?
Tell me about your greatest social success and the factors that lead to it.
What different social mediums are you experienced in and how effective have you found them?

Once you’ve covered your bases, here are some great topical questions to ask the person you’re considering for a Social Media Manager, based on the goals you want to achieve:

Enhance Awareness/ Improve Perception

How do you remain fresh and relevant in a constantly changing environment?
What ways have you helped improve brand loyalty in the past through social media?
How do you build an engaged social audience?

Increase Customer Service Support/Collect Information

What’s your philosophy on solving client or prospect problems? How would you go about making something right?
Provide an example of enhanced customer support you’ve been able to achieve through the use of social media.
How do you guide customers to resolve problems or issues through social mediums?
In what ways have you utilized social media to uncover problems before they arise or gain customer feedback to enhance a product or service?

Educate Your Audience

Do you feel that social media can be used to educate our audience, if so, how?  If not, why?
How do you get users to listen or participate in the discussion you are creating?
How do you showcase thought leadership?

Create Influencers/Advocates

How do you identify brand advocates?
What do you do to nurture influencers or advocates online?  Provide an example.

Convert Leads/Drive Sales

In what ways would you suggest using social media to help drive sales and/or convert leads for our brand/company/product?
Can you provide an example of a successful campaign you’ve launched in the past?
Can you provide an example of an unsuccessful campaign and what you learned from it?

In each of your above goal areas it’s important to factor in what success for your company might look like, how the candidate can help you see if their efforts will be beneficial, and how long their efforts will take to see fruition.

Tie in one of these types of questions (below) to gain a better understanding of how the candidate can help you achieve your goals and how they measure their success in any given situation:

Defining Success/ Calculating ROI

How do you define success?
How do you measure ROI (Return on Investment)?
What types of results should we expect?
How long will it take to see direct results/indirect results?

When all is said and done, don’t forget to see if the applicant practices what they preach.  Check out their online profiles and how engaged they are with their communities.

But do this with caution, some very good social managers for companies can be more private in their personal life, however, they should still be able to showcase via several outlets how social media can be used effectively and not have haphazard accounts with little activity.

If they’re still available, research past campaigns they may have launched for other organizations and get referrals.

And remember, too, that being social online and in real life are two different beasts.  The most outgoing person in the room may not always be the best fit for your needs.

Understand each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses and evaluate their skills against your goals.  Sometimes, the best person might just be the quiet surprise that can strategize and move nimbly among your online presence to build a social authority for your company.

Be wary of anyone who claims to be an expert.

The social field is constantly changing and the person you want on your team should be flexible, adaptable, and always ready to try new things to stay ahead of the game.  And, sometimes staying ahead can also mean staying focused on the tried and true of what works for your brand to be successful.

Have a favorite question you like to ask those interviewing for a social media related position–please share in the comments below!

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