Tag Archives: social media employment

3 Helpful Tips when Hiring for Social Media

I don’t care if you are hiring someone as a fulltime employee, hiring an agency to support your business, or looking for a position in social media. There are three principles you really should consider. They are so rational and make sense for any position to fill, but often are ignored when securing social media positions.

This coming week I start a new chapter in my social media adventures. I will be heading up social media strategy at a performance marketing agency. In the past, I have been hired as a consultant and someone to lead another social team. I have hired social talent to be part of a team and I’ll be doing that again. Given my interviewing experience on both sides, I thought it would be valuable to share three common mentalities often overlooked. So I hope you take some missteps I have witnessed by both candidates and companies in the social media hiring process and change things for the better.

Simply Show You Are Social

For Candidate:
Be prepared to bring and show examples of your social footprint. This is more than using Facebook and Twitter. Do you blog? Can you give examples of generating earned and shared media?

When I hired some social media managers in February, 2010, I knew I would not find many that have done what I was looking for in a professional setting. I found a number of good candidates that “lived” the social thing. They were producing content and capturing a following in their personal life because they enjoyed doing it. They were engaging and building relationships. Can you demonstrate this?

For Hiring Company:
Social media success starts with having the right mentality. I have emphasized this in my article “Forget Social Media – Let’s First Start with Social.” Let me make the point through two contrary experiences …

Company A: I was interviewing for a position to head up social media for a major retail brand you all would know. The process was going well and I received an email from HR stating, “____ (the CMO) mentioned that he had a great conversation with you and he is interested in you for the role … I will connect with you first/second week of May to discuss next steps.” Then, I never heard back from them and they did not return my call and email. I do not think it is acceptable for any company to go cold after sending such a positive note – even if they are having some internal issues. They should be transparent (I am not saying totally and show their warts) and follow up and say we are having some delays for some unforeseen issues. If this is how “social” they are to their prospect team and this is their culture, how social do they expect their staff team to be with their customers?

Company B: After interviewing with the CEO (a very busy person), I sent a follow up note stating thanks and why I thought I was a great match for the position. You know, the type of follow up letter we always do. Do you ever get replies to them? I never did and least not until my experience with Company B. The CEO returned a simple note and said, “Thanks for the info. Looking forward to continued conversations.” It took all of 15 seconds to do this. Others there returned my follow note as well. This is a “social mentality company.” Yes, I was extremely happy to receive the simple note and you know what – customers really appreciate when they receive responses from corporate staff as well. No surprise … I start working for them on Monday. :)

Know What You Are Looking For

For Candidate:
A common question in any interviewing scenario is “What are you looking for?” To be honest, I have not always been good at answering this question – at least not in the beginning of my job search. Yes, I have interviewed at a number of companies and it took some time for me to know exactly where and how I wanted to make my impact. But I do think this uncertainty hindered my ability to connect with some companies early in my interviewing endeavors. When I knew exactly what I looked to accomplish, I was able to develop stronger relationships even at first meetings. It is okay to go out there and feel your way around for a bit. But realize you need to work to determine a definition of what is right for you and you will see greater success at that point.

For Hiring Company:
There have been a number of companies that I have interviewed with that did not know what the responsibilities would be for social positions and even where the position reported into. I have experienced multiple cases where I was to report to more than one person because of uncertainty. Social media must be accountable to the entire company – yes. But reporting structure is not a replication of accountability.

If you are not sure what you are looking for, set up information sessions and label it as such. Way back when, we used “RFIs” (Request for Information) as a method to learn more about vendors that could solve problems for organizational needs. Bring this same mentality to the social hiring process. It makes no difference if you are searching for agency support or securing a fulltime position. A real “social media expert” would be glad to share information and food for thought with you.

I have a number of war stories on this subject. Yes, I share my experiences, but will not reveal well recognized entities – there are many. Kiss and tell – no. Share lessons learned – yes.

Connecting Social Media to Business Objectives

Here, it is really the same objective for the candidate and the hiring company. It is not important to hire someone who knows social media … It is important to hire someone who knows how to successfully connect social media to the company. There are tons of people out there that understand social media. Heck, most digital natives (or millennials) understand it and get it. But it is a whole lot different to be able to understand a brand position, its target market, what the target market values, where the prospective audience congregates, and being able to establish a social media practice that fits in. If you are the candidate or hired agency, do understand how you measure success and define a social program that bolts into your awareness, lead generation, and sales process strategy and activities of the hiring company? If you are the hiring company, do you know how to determine whether your hired prospect or agency has the ability to integrate social media into your operations and can articulate KPIs (key performance indicators)? Can he/she provide added value by building and increasing loyalty and advocates? Don’t you think a company will experience much greater success with this ability rather than hiring someone that simply knows social?

Wrap Up

Let’s be honest. Nothing I have written here is earth shattering or profound. We apply these mentalities quite often. But for some reason, it has been my experience that this is not the case when it comes to social media hiring. Why? Because social media is new and some look at it like it is a great mystery. While I can accept this, I am suggesting that the solution is simpler than we are making it. And just one more thing (or really three things) … make sure to pay attention to the areas I have covered here. It should result in a solid match for the organization and the hiree.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Filed under company organization, employment, social media, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Putting Together the Social Media Dream Team

While there is still some debate on the merits of social media (and I will continue to provide information showing the value) many have come to accept that it is a business-must. So if you accept that social media is a powerful part of an integrated business/marketing plan, how are you going to go about putting the right people in place to deliver kick @$$ solutions?


In the past two months, I have had the challenge, honor, and excitement of doing just this. I head up the social media strategy and operations at Hachette Filipacchi Media (brands include Elle, Woman’s Day, Elle Décor, Car and Driver, Road and Track, Cycle World, Premiere, Filipacchi Publishing, and newly announced partnership in Glo). I’d like to share with you, at a high level, my process and decisions that have yielded, what I consider, a social media dream team. Disclaimer: While I am employed by Hachette Filipacchi Media, all of the opinions expressed within are solely mine and do not represent HFM in any way.

The first step is understanding: 1) your placement in the organization, 2) the clients you serve, 3) their objectives, and 4) what success looks like – all independent of being an internal or external resource. The social media group should be an agency model – you have clients that own their own brand decisions and look to subject matter experts for guidance, recommendations, plans, support, and execution, but at the end of the day, the clients you serve own the ultimate decision of what is in and what is out.

When you have a solid understanding of the landscape and those you serve, then you can assess the requirements of the delivery team. Every team needs balance – it is not just about having superstars on your team. Case in point … US Men’s Basketball Team only winning bronze medal in the 1988 Olympics – a huge disappointment and under achievement given US domination up to that point. Team – not just superstars – a well balanced team.

If you’re looking for a well balanced social media team here are some things you should look for in the summation of all in the group (including yourself):

• Sound business and marketing knowledge and experience – all the cool social media tools and outlets must be integrated into the big business picture
• Experience taking product and/or services to market
• Knowledge of the target market you serve and ability to define requirements and segments
• Ability to define and implement roadmap and new supporting technologies
• Project/program management
• Ability to define the influencers and work directly with them
• Proven experience using social media to participate, engage, and converse with the target market
• Knowledge, conviction, and profound passion for social media both professionally and personally
• Analytical strength to define appropriate things to be measured and accurately do so
• Good balance of personalities – both soft and hard, but all driven
• Good balance of “research types” and “creative types”

When I look at the stellar HFM Social Media Team, I am extremely confident of what we will achieve and how, over a period time, we will produce measurable results. One of the key reasons I am so optimistic is that I look at each of us, and no matter level of seniority, I am positive that we will all educate each other. Each one of us has a different way we use social media. Each of us has used a diverse set of social media tools, some overlap, but certainly there is much uniqueness as well. While I am the leader of the team, I learn from each and every member. We rally our diverse perspective.

So I know, many of you reading this are saying, yeah, but Hachette is a large company. Reality check here … HFM has primarily been a magazine company. What do you think magazine companies have done in the past 3 years … closed many publications, had significant reduction in force, and are far from a spending free for all. But Hachette Filipacchi Media is committed to innovation and digital. You should think about this – consider the tough times and decisions at HFM and areas they are making investments.

What do you need to do differently in your business (not additionally) that will push you in a more competitive nature? The HFM Social Media Team is a team of four serving multiple brands and initiatives. Thus, like all in business today, we are a resource constrained team and a lean machine. But we have strong leadership that understands the importance of innovation and digital evolution and they are making some investments here (as opposed to other places). At the end of last year, I wrote an article “Winning with Social Media at Your Company: A Letter to the CEO.” Do you get it yet, and if you do, are you ready to build your dream team?

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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