10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Social Media Manager

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hiring-a-social-media-managerIt’s likely you’ve come to the point in your store’s marketing growth where you recognize the outstanding opportunity available with Social Media. The time, skills and effort it takes to be successful means you’ve got to rethink your current situation. You can’t find the time to write valuable content or review your metrics and it’s clear you need to take decisive action.

The day has come to hire a Social Media manager.

How will you know who measures up and who’s a poseur?  Many dealers and other business owners are not spending a lot of time on Social networks so it’s quite a challenge to figure out who the best person is to handle your brand’s reputation, social presence and sales leads.

I spoke at a dealer meeting last week and one of the dealers said, “I don’t feel comfortable handing my brand over to a 28 year old.” It’s not so much the age but the acumen.  I’ve had 19-year-old receptionists tell me they wouldn’t be caught dead on Social Media. I also know a 55-year-old who handles all the digital and Social marketing for a large auto group here in Southern California.  It’s not the age, it’s the mindset.

As long as you know the right questions to ask and have expert Social Media guidance along the way, it won’t matter how old or young the person is. What matters is they have sales know-how, a solid foundation in dealership marketing strategy and an understanding of today’s social-media-savvy customer.

Who speaks for your business? Hiring a Social Media manager can become quite a challenge. Social Media reaches people, fosters conversations and your manager must derive leads and sales from those relationships. There’s a lot of people trying to capitalize on this booming market so here’s a shocker: Not everyone who says they can do Social Media marketing have actually done it successfully!

Now that you’re ready to hire (or promote) your Social Media manager, here are 10 questions to ask your candidate. Their answers will aid your decision and help you pick the right person:

1.  What Social Media platform(s) are best for your business? (and have them explain why).  Ask them to describe the “personality” of your store’s brand.  They should have done research on your store and your customer before assessing the potential across today’s Social Media channels.  Facebook, Twitter , Blogging and YouTube are awesome channels and have very different marketing tactics.

2. What are the two most important Social marketing metrics a dealer should monitor regularly?  

  • The first metric is engagement. Whatever platform it is (Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, YouTube), there needs to be measurable conversation around your brand.  Content is what drives Social marketing success so if your content stinks, you won’t see people engaging.  Your candidate should be well-versed in writing and curating relevant content for your audience.
  •  The second is leads. Have they run a social campaign that generated leads? What’s their track record with Facebook ads? Very often, leads from Social Media can look very different than the ones you’re used to seeing. Listening and responding timely to Social marketing leads is crucial. Just like in real life conversations, when people talk to you, they expect a response.

3.  Are they accomplished in a Social marketing environment AND in a Social customer service environment?  Ask them to define the difference between the two.

4. What’s the most important thing a Social Media manager should be doing? A solid answer would be “monitoring” and/or listening to the audience within the brand’s Social channels.

5. Have they ever had to handle a Social Media crisis?  Ask them to define what that means to them and what steps they would take to resolve a situation.

6. How would they allocate your budget for Social Media advertising?  Ask them to describe a plan for how best to spend and how they would know if it’s successful.

7. Do they have a blog and do they currently write content for Social Media channels? Ask to see the blog in action and make sure they’re posting regularly.

8. Ask them what marketing strategies they plan to use to generate leads.  You need to know that Social Media is giving you something quantifiable for your money.  Social Media ROI = Number of Leads.

9.  Ask them what their first goals would be.  If your candidate starts talking about attracting ‘X’ number of Facebook likes or ‘Y’ number of Twitter followers, stop them and ask: 1) How will they build an audience of in-market fans and 2) how they plan to engage with that specific audience.  They might try to blind you with numbers but a small, switched-on and engaged audience offers you much more value than a bunch of fans/followers from outside your market area.

10. Ask them to tell you a story.  If they have the ability to tell a compelling story, that will give you a huge advantage in all levels of Social Media.

One final thought:  This is not a position that should be taken lightly or seen as an entry-level position. This individual will speak the lifeblood of your brand to an indefinite amount of current, new and legacy customers. Please take deliberate steps to find the embodiment of your brand’s personality. Someone who takes the leadership role in building your Social and online reputation.

Kathi Kruse
Kathi Kruse is an Automotive Social Media Marketing Expert, Blogger, Speaker, Coach, Author and Founder of Kruse Control Inc. Born in the heart of Los Angeles to a family of “car people”, Kathi’s passion for the car business spans a 30-year career managing successful dealerships in Southern California. Kathi is the author of “Automotive Social Business – How to Captivate Your Customers, Sell More Cars & Be Generally Remarkable on Social Media”. Her Kruse Control Blog is the leading Automotive Social Media blog in the US.
Kathi Kruse

@kathikruse

Automotive Social Media, Online Reputation Marketing/Coaching/Training. Blogger, Speaker, Author: AUTOMOTIVE SOCIAL BUSINESS. Founder/CEO Kruse Control Inc
6 Outstanding Facebook Business Pages (and Why They’re Awesome) http://t.co/WOhoIJXniU @HubSpot - 21 mins ago
Kathi Kruse
Kathi Kruse
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  • http://thedealerblog.com TuneyFish

    Hi Kathi,

    These are great questions to ask! #10 especially since they should have a lot of stories that they would be proud to share.

    • krusecontrol

      Thanks Scott! Agreed :-)

  • Frank Reed

    It’s your final thought where most businesses make their biggest mistakes. The ‘let’s give it to a young person who has grown up with social media’ move is a lazy one AND one that is designed to simply go the cheap route.

    If the person you hire does not have a high business IQ with experience that can take tools and APPLY findings rather than just create happenings then you are headed down the path of turnover and wasted money.

    • krusecontrol

      I agree Frank. I think a lot of business owners want to make Social Media an afterthought to their marketing. Resistance to change is normal but hiring “just anybody” is a bad strategy.

  • http://bit.ly/TinchLI Jeff Tincher

    Great post Kathi,
    I agree with Frank with his thoughts about hiring the right person with high business IQ, not just because they “grew up with social”. Guess you wrote this article in part from the recent post by Cathryn Sloane where she writes “No brand worth its salt should employ a social media manager who is older than 25 because young people grew up with social technologies and understand them on an instinctive level.” Sure, they may understand all the tools, but without practical experience in implementing the tools, knowing which tool will work in the right situation and many other variables, things may just not work out all too well for the young employee and the business.

    #2 is a definite. Engaging people is what makes social “social”. Many businesses seem to think social is just another way of blasting out promo after promo and sure that may work for a while but it’s not good for long term value and retention of those social followers, they just get tired of being sold sold sold, when they are mostly in the mindset to be social.

    Your #5 point is great as well and would be very necessary with a large, public brand since there’s more negative “chatter” that would need to be monitored, responded to, escalated, etc. Being able to know HOW to respond in a crisis whether it be negative feedback, issue with a product, business catastrophe, etc. being prepared is critical…. AND overlooked by many corporations as the “it won’t happen to us” mentality sometimes sits in.

    Thanks again, great post and key points to look for in a social media manager. Also, from a SMM position, what skills people SHOULD be doing to keep their job :)

    • krusecontrol

      Awesome points, Jeff! I was a bit inspired by that post about 25 year old Social Media Managers. It reminded me of how many business owners think about Social Media. They forget that it’s marketing. You’re totally right about needing the experience and marketing aptitude. Thanks for stopping by my blog :-)

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  • http://twitter.com/HumbleMechanic Charles S

    Hey Kathi,
    I was too lazy to find you on twitter so I googled your name. This is the post that came up. It is very interesting because it relates to the advice that I wanted to ask you about.

    As you might remember I started my blog/website after being told my dealer “had a company that does social media”. Well it may come as a huge surprise, they fired the company. It is a good thing because they were awful.

    MSo a few months have gone by with no SM action from my dealer. My manager knows of my brand, and what I have done to build it. He asked me if I would be willing to help them get into the game. (The actual question was, “How much will it cost to get you on board.” )

    I feel like the dealers commitment will be the most important thing. Unfortunately I don’t think they are really ready for it. By ready I mean committed. I laid out what some basic things that would need to happen. I told them I would not be interested. As I expected, they again turned down the plans and the commitment.

    Fast forward to yesterday. I was told we needed to have a meeting about Facebook. This has not happened yet, I guess it will be later in the week.

    I really want my dealer to get going with this. It will affect me in the long run, plus I want the entire dealer to be successful, not just service. Do you think that I should join that team? If I do, do you have any advice to help them see the light?

    Thanks for your help and reading
    Charles

    • krusecontrol

      Let’s chat. Let’s DM on Twitter. I’ll shoot you a message right now to set up a time to talk.

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  • Rocky Rawstern

    As always, great content and advice. Thanks, Kathi!

  • http://www.neevgoldkin.com/ Neev Goldkin

    This is very useful. Being fairly new to the social media game I’m able to see which areas of improvement I need to focus on and know how to answer the hard questions. I feel that one of the key components, as others have mentioned, is definitely engagement. A consistent, active and positive social media presence is the best resume for a social media manager. Or at least that’s what I’m betting on!
    Thanks again for the excellent post.

    • krusecontrol

      Thanks Neev! I’m glad to see you’re betting on a consistent, active and positive social presence – it’s the key to the kingdom. Good luck with your new endeavor!

      • http://www.neevgoldkin.com/ Neev Goldkin

        Thanks! Have been continuing to peruse your blog and there is a wealth of information here. Is this content tailored for the automotive sales industry? It seems to apply to all aspects of social.

        • krusecontrol

          Yes, I focus on auto retail but most everything I blog about, especially the strategies, can apply to other businesses. Thanks for reading my blog!

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/mdyoder Michael D. Yoder

    All good points. Thanks for sharing this information. I’d add two things. Please, don’t use Klout, Kred, Peer Index or any other platforms that claim to measure influence as a way to gauge a candidates social media aptitude. And, I’d suggest asking them about strategy, i.e. what that means to them in the context of social media, and if they can provide an example.

    • krusecontrol

      Great additions Michael. I have some of my coaching clients who are first starting out pay attention to the influence measurement sites just so they can get a feel for what works and something to measure themselves by as marketers. However, not to put very much weight into them in the long term because they are gamed. Your thoughts? Metrics like engagement, leads and sales are the true sign of success.

      • http://www.linkedin.com/in/mdyoder Michael D. Yoder

        Yes, gaming the system is one of my biggest concerns with sites like Klout, etc. There is actually a Twitter account called @common_squirrel that actually has a Klout score of 20. The only thing tweeted are things like, “run, run” or “hop, hop.” If someone is truly interested in influence marketing, I’d highly suggest Danny Brown and Sam Fiorella’s book, “Influence Marketing.” I’m not associated with them in any way, but I think they are headed in the right direction with their customer centric model.

        • krusecontrol

          I love Danny Brown and Sam Fiorella! I heard about their book but just didn’t get it. You’ve inspired me so I’ll download it. OMG I just looked up @common_squirrel that is hilarious. 103K followers. I must use this in my presentations somehow.

  • Connie Glover

    Great stuff, Kathi! I feel like #9 is particularly important. So many times individuals and businesses get hung up on the numbers, rather than, like you said, an engaged audience. You don’t want someone to Like you; you want someone to Like you, and encourage their friends to Like you, and talk about why they Like you, and buy your products/services, and get others to buy our products/services. Likes or Followers don’t mean a thing if it stops there.

    • krusecontrol

      Right on, Connie. There’s a car dealer I know who only wants more likes. He doesn’t seem to care to know anything beyond that. Likes are not a numbers game.

  • http://www.KeithJCaldwell.com/ Keith Caldwell

    Great list, Kathi. I I found myself answering your questions to see how I would measure up if some prospect would ask me these questions in an interview. Some I answered well and others? Not so well. Thx for the article.

    • krusecontrol

      That’s so great! Well even if you didn’t do so well on every one, at least you know where to improve! I’m glad my post help you!

  • Jeremy “Wengman” Wenger

    Hey Kathi!

    You rock for posting this. I have been been using Social Media for gosh knows how long for the businesses I have worked for, owned, and the ministry I was helping with in the past. I didn’y go search it out, but it always seemed to “fall in my lap”, AND NOW I am taking on a Media Department Director position of a very large company in my hometown. It’s really cool what God is doing. I do have several questions that are urgent so if you could respond as soon as possible that would be great. Anyone else, can chime in too, if they can add value, too. I am going to be open because that’s just the way I am so hopefully these questions and dialogues help someone else, as well.

    1.) I have such an active imagination and get the concept of a lot of businesses and how to let people see everything about the business and Public Figures, but is it the same knowing how to display that to the people as it is understanding the backbone and the logistics of the business? Did I just contradict myself? LOL

    My plan is to help the business or Public Figure by discoverign their passions, their heart, why they got into things in the first place, getting to know them for who they are, and display that to the public to help everyone “see behind the scenes”. Then, find their goals in Social Media and, out of this, develop a content strategy to help people engage and get people engaged. (I’m not sur eif it’s obvious that I am story teller/ blogger/ high energy type of guy LOL) Now my question is this:

    2.) Am I wrong for believing this is universal for every niche?

    3.) Do I need to know about that type of niche to be able to portray the desirable content to the public when gathering content from the business people to schedule out?

    HANG ON BEFORE YOU WRITE A RESPONSE TO #3

    4.) I am planning (not set on it) to create a “skeleton” or “structure” in scheduling posts out for the business and offering my time through a 30 minutes a week to help train someone inside of the business to post engaging content that’s alive and upbeat so the business’ personality is not robbed. I will also be helping them in any events, webinars, and weekly giveaways. What’s your opinion on this? Honestly, I love launching things and training someone else in how to go in a post engaging content (mainly because I enjoy that) with cear directives and not just a shotgun but be a sniper rifle.

    I hope I have not confused you at all in my postings/ questions. I AM posting this at 3:30AM so sleep deprivation may be pretty darn obvious in this… ANYWAYS… Talk to you soon!

    Thanks!

    Jeremy “Wengman” Wenger

    • krusecontrol

      Thanks so much Jeremy! I’ve just come off the hectic Fall conference season so I apologize for being so slow to reply :-/ To answer your first question, yes, content strategy must be defined prior to every marketing campaign – no matter what the business. If you don’t ID who you are as a brand, why people buy from you and ID your customer then your marketing will fall flat.
      Second question (3): yes, it helps to know the business you’re working with but if the principles can communicate it well to you and you understand it then it could work out. Training someone to do anything is another skill you would need to possess. It may seem easy but it’s not. Understanding how people learn and being able to help them grow is a challenge.