Social media marketing wasn't always taken seriously. Even five years after the public launch of Facebook, marketers were still wondering if they should include the Facebook 'fad' in their marketing strategy. Come today, businesses are investing a lot of time to research and test various strategies they should use on social and what other networks they should be on.
Alongside this major shift, the need arose for the social media manager. Usually, employed as part of the marketing team, but in some cases working alone and filling in for other duties, like blogging and email marketing.
It's been a rapid change, and this has left many marketing managers and VPs unsure about what to look for when hiring for the position. Everyone uses social media, right? So, what differentiates a social media 'expert' from the average Millennial who grew up using these networks all day, every day?
To help you understand what you should be looking for, we compiled 25 questions to ask when interviewing for this role - you can read all of them below or download the handy PDF from this page.
Including even a few of these questions in your interview process will help you separate the experts from the poseurs. Ask and listen to the answers attentively to learn whether your future social media manager is the star performer your business needs.
Interview questions to qualify social media managers
1. What online communities have you managed in the past?
Creating profiles and pages and then posting content to them isn't the job - most users can do that. The ability to build and engage with the community is the qualifying test of whether someone is a social media manager or a social media user.
2. Which social media channels do you recommend for our business and why?
This answers two questions at once. Has the candidate done the research on your company ahead of time, and how well versed they are in various social platforms. Pay attention if they mention demographics, style or frequency of messaging, and overall strategy.
3. What goals should we set for each of our social media accounts, and what does success look like?
If their answer is to get as many likes and shares as possible, it may be time to politely end the interview. The path from likes to conversions is more like A to K than A to B, so they should be able to explain what that path looks like for different platforms. For most companies, conversions are always the goal.
The candidate should also be able to help you define success on a strategic and tactical level in order to support your larger marketing and business goals.
4. What strategies would you use to generate leads?
This question moves from the more general and abstract into the meat of the matter. They should be able to outline two or three specific strategies that will feed leads into your sales funnel via social engagement.
5. Tell me about SEO and its relationship with social media.
There are several techniques for improving SEO with the help of social media. Make sure that they understand the latest Google algorithms, what is rewarded and punished. They should also be aware of the latest social algorithms and policies. Google Analytics should be part of this discussion.
6. Which social media tools do you use?
Leave this question open-ended, just as it is phrased above. Your company may already have a social media management tool in place or you may be looking for a recommendation. If they're only familiar with free software that does nothing more than allow them to schedule posts to Facebook and Twitter, it's not a good sign. Ask them why they like or don't like different tools and which features they use most.
7. What are the relevant metrics for tracking ROI on social media?
Engagement, brand reach, lead generation, and conversions. These are the essential measures of social media's return on investment (ROI). Social media managers are comfortable talking about specific terms in Google Analytics, the software they use and the data they can get from each platform.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that engagement on its own is success - without conversions (e.g. site visits, reviews, downloads, leads), it means little and should be improved.
8. How do you deal with negative comments or a brand reputation crisis?
The way they define 'crisis' can tell you a lot about how much experience they have. If they haven't had a real social media crisis in their own experience, they should at least be familiar with some famous brand reputation blunders. Dealing with negative comments or reviews properly is vital to this position, ask for examples.
9. Can you describe your biggest social media failure?
Everyone has failures, some larger than others. Of course, what you really want to know, is how they dealt with it. Gain insight into their coping skills and how they deal with negatives by listening to how the issue was resolved. Pay attention to what they did (or didn't do) to ensure that the failure wouldn't happen again.
Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. - Winston Churchill.
10. How do you check and stay on top of the latest updates, innovations, and new platforms in social media?
Social media is an ever-changing landscape that requires constant and ongoing learning and adaptation. Even the most experienced social media managers need to refine their skills. They update their strategies, learn and practice new techniques and stay on top of the latest changes to new and existing platforms.
11. Imagine: Google has just devalued an SEO technique you have used successfully in the past. What do you do?
This is a hypothetical question, but it’s also something guaranteed to happen at some point as it has happened before. While you're not employing a blogger, it's good to see whether your candidate has a broader understanding of these kinds of changes and strategies.
12. What are your thoughts on Google+?
There are several schools of thought on this matter, and there is no right answer. As of this writing, G+ should be used mostly for SEO purposes and local search results if nothing else. It’s a strange and fine line to consider this platform as a pure social network - it doesn’t seem to hold much weight. But the additional effects of using it are still powerful.
13. Can we run a free contest on our Facebook Page where fans like and share our regular posts to win?
Knowing the rules and guidelines for each platform is absolutely necessary. Mainly to implement best practices, but also to avoid violating the terms of service, getting suspended or kicked off. The short answer to this question is “no”. Facebook fights against clickbait posts that encourage liking and sharing, but you can still run a proper contest and give additional points to those who engage on social media.
14. Can we see some examples of the social media projects you've worked on?
Results speak for themselves. If they can’t or won’t show you anything, then they either don’t have the experience you need or they aren’t very good at what they do. Would you try to sell a product to potential clients without being able to show it to them?
15. How would you allocate our social media budget?
Specific metrics and KPIs should be discussed and what should go where percentage-wise. For example, a decent percentage can be allocated to Facebook Ads - a medium-sized company can spend as much as $500 per month on paid advertising. Human capital, social media tools, and training are also absolutely necessary for high ROI.
16. How would you communicate with the rest of the company?
Social media management must support other marketing and customer service initiatives in the business. Your future employee will need to be in the loop with most other aspects of the business and will need the buy-in of co-workers to achieve true success. The roles and responsibilities of each cog in the machine (your business) should be defined as clearly as possible.
17. What are our competitors doing in social media?
Again, this helps to identify if they did any proper research before the interview. While a full answer is not necessary ahead of time, it should show you how the social activities of your business compare to your competitors. When hiring a social media manager, you want them to be aware of what’s going on in the industry, and a true professional will have this covered.
18. Do you have your own blog or do you regularly publish content on your own social media platforms?
This will show you how well-balanced they are across all aspects of the position, and also what kind of content creator they are. It's perfectly fine to outsource content, but then they should have a good grasp of creative writing, design and good SEO practices. If not, how will they be able to assess the quality of the outsourced material?
19. What is the most important thing a social media manager should be doing?
This helps you understand what they think social media marketing is and how it should be done. The best answer will be a version of ‘listening to’ or ‘monitoring’ your audience and your competitors. The old saying about two ears and one mouth is especially relevant in social media management.
"Good content always has an objective; it’s created with intent. It, therefore, carries triggers to action." - Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs
20. How does customer service fit into your strategy?
Providing customer service on social media is becoming increasingly more important for businesses with an active online presence. Offering support and posting on social media are two different parts of social media management. Each requires a different approach and seldom, a separate channel. First, they should recognize this fact. Secondly, they should know how to approach each type of conversation - an endorsement, mention or complaint.
21. Tell me a story.
You have already asked about content creation and seen their writing abilities (if they have them). This question is designed to get the candidate to think on their feet. Assess how clearly they can communicate ideas and emotions and how compelling they are. One may argue that if someone can’t tell a story, it will prove very difficult to work and find success in social media marketing.
The story is what’s going to make people excited.- Blake Mycoskie, American entrepreneur and author
22. Why should we hire you over someone else?
This can be used in every hiring situation. Anyone should be able to tell you why they're better than their competition and why they're the best fit for your company. This gives them an opportunity to highlight the best aspects of their skill set and experience.
23. Explain something that is complicated but that you know well.
This is similar to the storytelling question but from a more technical aspect. The "something" can be anything. Possibly they know how to rebuild a car engine or know how to explain social media to their grandparents. The point is, they should be able to comprehend a complex subject and articulate it in a simpler, understandable form.
24. What project or task would you consider as your most significant accomplishment in your career to date?
According to recruiting expert and author Lou Adler, this is the only interview question that matters. It's also the single best interview question for determining whether to hire someone. Lou spent 10 years studying and coming to this determination, so he deserves credit - follow the link to see his rationale.
25. Pitch my company to me as if I were a potential customer.
This will show you how much they know about your company and what their level of passion is for your product, service or industry. It will also tell you what their initial impressions are without the insight of working for you (yet). It's unlikely they'll be prepared for this, so it can also show you how quickly they work on the fly.