Fast becoming the must have skills of 2011, an ever increasing number of clients are clamouring to recruit skilled social media practitioners. But what do they look like?
Should they be judged on theirTwitter followers, connections on LinkedIn, or circles within Google+? Or should it be more about how they have leveraged all social channels to engage customers/consumers?
Every client we speak to has their own opinion, but one thing is for sure, these skills are in high demand and short supply. It’s an ever evolving channel and an increasingly important part of the mix but seeking out those who properly understand social media, versus those who think it’s just about having a facebook page and twitter account, can be a tricky task.
In general it depends on what the end client (employer) want to achieve.
Is it driving brand awareness through awareness campaigns that generate ‘likes’, is it social commerce, is it customer service, or engaging with influential bloggers and communities? Then you have the ‘seo factor’. A lot of people look to link seo and social media skills together but in our experience these are actually two separate skill sets. Yes the two are closely linked but seo experts are normally different people to social media experts. One tends to be more data/analytics driven, the other more creatively and content driven. Clear linkage between the two no doubt, but rarely have we seen someone who is a genuine expert in both.
In an ideal world employers look to recruit candidates who have proven case histories of working on social campaigns for well known clients. And by and large, agencies want this to have been done in an agency environment, rather than in-house. They want people who are constantly in the digital world, happy to monitor client twitter accounts last thing on a Friday night, first thing on a Saturday morning. And to reply with ‘on message’ responses. To an extent, twitter followers, personal blogs and the like are good indicators of social media nouse, but this isn’t always an accurate indicator - sometimes people are so engaged in the social space for clients, they don’t have the time they’d like to constantly update their own social profiles – it’s not always about self promotion!
A good social media manager won’t just talk about the social platform (facebook, twitter, youtube etc) but will talk about the specific target audience, how they identified where this community is online, where the conversations are happening, who the influential people (bloggers etc.) are in those spaces and how they then went about engaging with them to generate content, awareness & engagement. Personally we’re not too concerned about what brands they’ve done this for as long as they understand how to formulate the strategy that underpins the tactics. If they’ve done it for Old Spice, then great, but chances are it’s unlikely to be the case. Demand most definitely is exceeding supply.
Candidates need to have an aptitude to write for an online audience, a strong understanding of the scope of platforms and technologies available, keen interest in the ever changing digital/social landscape and a clear passion for what they do. Employers need to be flexible (within reason) on the criteria they set out and be willing to invest in training whoever they recruit as the chances are they won’t be the finished article.