Social Media Strategist
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Social Media marketing, strategy and professional development blog for Jon-Stephen Stansel, a social media strategist living in Austin, Texas.

Spotting Talent: Social Media Pro or Poser?

Gurus Need Not Apply

-by Jon-Stephen Stansel

There are a lot of folks out claiming to be social media experts and not a lot of them are truly qualified. Simply being on social media does not make one an expert. So when hiring a social media manager, how do you separate the pros from the posers? Having been on several social media hiring committees and being the subject of several interviews myself, here a few questions I find helpful in searching for true social media professionals. 

What brands/organizations do you think are doing well on social media or who do you follow for social media inspiration?

This is my most important question. A social media manager applicant should be able to answer this without batting an eye. This shows they take an interest in the field, care about staying current on trends, and do their research. Ideally, a few of the accounts they mention should come from your organization's field.

How would you reply to this negative comment? (Provide an example of a negative comment your organization has received.)

Most interviewers ask how a social media manager would handle negative comments, but this is vague and gets a vague answer that's easy to make sound good. Give your applicant a concrete example of a negative comment you've received on social media and see how they would react in a real world situation.

Tell us about a time you made a social media mistake and the steps you took to correct the problem.

We all make mistakes at some point. Social media managers are no different. No matter how good they are, they'll slip up eventually. This is a good opportunity to see how they own up to it and learn from the experience.

What metrics do you find most valuable to measure social media success?

This question should be answered with the question, "It depends. What are your social media goals?" If they simply throw out surface vanity metrics, watch out.

What about our organization’s social media efforts needs to be improved?

This question will make everyone in the room squirm a bit, but it must be asked. The applicant will squirm because they will not know how involved their interviewers are with the organization's social efforts and won't want to accidentally insult their potential employer. The interviewer will squirm because no one likes to hear their weaknesses plotted out in front of them. But hold the applicants feet to the fire and get an honest answer. This is something you need to hear.

Warning Signs:

If any applicant says or does the following things, they probably aren't the ideal candidate.

  • They refer to themselves as a guru, ninja, maven, rock star, etc…
  • Their personal Twitter/Instagram/Facebook accounts are set to private or they don’t have accounts.
  • They recommend linking social media accounts.
  • They list being a millennial as one of their qualifications. (Or being a member of any generation for that matter.)
  • They include their Klout score on their resume.

What are your thoughts? What questions do you ask? What questions have you been asked? What are your warning signs?

Next week, I'll turn the tables and share some questions to ask if you are applying for a social media management position.