Social media hiring: Need a Guru or just a Professional?
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Social media hiring: Are you hiring a Guru or just a Professional?

The necessity of having someone on your staff who can appropriately manage your social media presence cannot be understated. In absence of a traditional college background for this extremely new job position, how do you determine who is the best candidate?

Is it the self-styled social media guru, or the professional whose social media skills are based on previous work experience? While a Social Media major has been introduced to colleges such as Newberry College (starting Fall 2013), it has yet to become a standard college major.

The self-styled social guru

All of us use social media to some extent or another. Knowing how to use Facebook, follow a Twitter conversation, or create Pinterest boards isn’t a terribly difficult skill to pick up. At what point does a regular social media user turn into a “guru” – someone whose skill at navigating social media is great enough to overshadow their lack of professional experience?

The skills that a self-styled social guru applies to their own social media presence can benefit your business’s social presence. However, it’s difficult for job recruiters to differentiate between applicants who are good at social media, and those whose knowledge can be applied effectively in a professional setting. When examining claims of guru-hood, consider the following:

  • Who are the people that follow your applicant? How much does their follower count fluctuate? Is it growing?
  • Does the applicant post engaging content that is frequently shared? Is that content appropriate for the audience? Does the applicant regularly interact with their followers in a meaningful way?
  • Is the applicant working towards expanding their talents by participating in classes, webinars, or other skills-building activities?

The social media professional

Although social media is too new for there to be an advanced degree in Facebook (yet), it’s been around long enough that many people have experience working on social media in a professional capacity. Does this experience automatically make them better candidates than the self-styled gurus?

Just because someone has worked in social media for another company doesn’t mean that they did it well, that they understand the importance of gaining high-quality followers, or that they know how to provide satisfactory customer service over social media.

It can be even more difficult to go online and measure their performance on their previous company’s social pages, as posts may be unsigned and submitted by more than one employee. As such, your assessment needs to be based on:

  • Online presence: If the applicant claims to have worked in social media, but you can only find one post per week during their tenure at that company, chances are they don’t have the skills you need.
  • Interview questions: What techniques did they use to gain followers? How important do they think it is to respond to comments and messages? What was their overall social media strategy, and how did they implement it in a consistent way? File this information away within your HR software to compare with the self-made social gurus.
  • Questions for references: How important was social media to the company during that time? How much of the applicant’s performance was based on social media outcomes?

Having the right person manning your company’s social presence is integral to its future success. The number of customers who attempt to engage customer service through social grew by an estimated 53% in 2013.

And according to the Bain & Co. report “Putting Social Media to Work,” when companies engage with customers and provide responses to customer service requests over social media, those customers end up spending 20% to 40% more money with the company. The person you hire to provide this service needs to have the right skills – whether they’re a guru or a professional.

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Megan Webb-Morgan

Megan Webb-Morgan is a guest blogger for Integrated B2B and a regular business blogger for ResourceNation.com – a B2B lead generation resource. She writes on a variety of topics including recruiting and social media hiring. Follow Resource Nation tweeting from @ResourceNation.