Hiring a Social Media Manager Isn’t As Easy It Seems…

So, I’m approaching 4 years of specialisation in the Social Media industry, and all that that encompasses. When I made the leap to be a specialist in this area, it was an unknown field for many – even in communications agency-land – let alone, on the corporate front.

4 years on, it still appears to be a challenge. Still corporate Social Media Managers are coming and going at speed, citing bad culture fit, lack of understanding, lack of leadership and red-tape issues. Even at agency level, the integration of social media is not a natural fit in so many cases. Not only that, the positioning of an employer brand in hiring generically through social – continues to be a corporate challenge. Managing word-of-mouth and social exposure, is tough.

SMM hire image

I’m going to be discussing this at an event we are holding in the late afternoon of 25th June in Central London; where we look at the factors that are essential in hiring and using social media in our talent culture.

Some of the headlines of I will be covering in my own talk around `Hiring the Right Social Media Manager For YOUR Business` are:

1. Culture

2. Preparation

3. Audience 

4. Leadership

5  Measurement 

6. Career Objectives

These are factors which are essential in understanding why, who and how you will select your Social Media Specialist – whether it’s a Director, a Manager, a Community Manager, or a Content Specialists for your business’s budding social media profiles.

If this interests you – then it’s only ONE THIRD of what is on offer at our event.  We have Social Business Specialist Tiffany St James, presenting on building a Social Business Culture that will allow your business to thrive in Social Media execution; and we have Social Recruitment Expert Bill Boorman, guiding you though using social media to identify the tricky to reach talent, like specialist IT people and the like.

I’m a nice bloke who knows my stuff, sure – but THESE guys are box office. And the event is free, as we’re covering the costs.


Steve stockpicBillBoorman

I hope to see you there – grab your FREE ticket by clicking the humongous Eventbrite sign below…







*Respectfully, this is aimed at Business Leaders, Hiring Managers, HR & Inhouse Recruitment Specialists in this space – and please not for other recruitment agency professionals or consultants to attend. There are limited spaces and we want to bring the best value for all concerned. Tickets taken by recruitment agents may get re-allocated. Thank you, and sorry. 



Will LinkedIn Go Too Far In Its Recruitment Package?

I remember when LinkedIn was a nice professional network, great for catching up on old colleagues and a source for professional introduction. The discussion areas were good, and the sharing of information, expertise and advice was fruitful.

Then, lets be honest, us recruiters took over.

We saw it as an opportunity to headhunt, without phoning and pretending to be 10 different names to 10 different people in the employer of our unwitting target talent. There were people, sharing their career history and attributes on a public forum, and available to connect.

LinkedIn ClassifiedWell, actually – despite merely fuelling the short-term career cycle, I happen to think this is good news – we are more aware of our options these days. Being headhunted (well) or identified for our skills and worth (well) are flattering to us, and we are better aware of our market position. We only have to say “No”, if we don’t want another job.
It’s when you have 10 a day, that are ill-conceived, that the ‘flattery’ becomes an irritation.

So, naturally LinkedIn have dived all over this with their embracing of the network as a career portal – no matter what they may publicly declare – their income potential is in recruitment & hiring – and along came recruiter memberships and in more recent times the expensive professional recruitment access, where we get to contact anyone and everyone and it would appear thar the words ‘privacy settings’ are no longer apparent.

And then there is job posting. It’s more accessible and relevant to the hirer, and most particularly, the direct employer. The cost of this isn’t too bad for a one-off, and hey – you get the reach of the whole network.

A no-brainer, right?

Yes, until it becomes too popular. Oh yeah, that thing. It SEEMS like a good thing, whereas actually… it just could be, a bad thing.

In our market research, for my specialism around social media talent – we make it our business to know the market as best as we can – we see social media roles advertised on LinkedIn.
Last week, one role had 605 applications, another had 450, two or three others had 250-350 applications. Most had around 70-100. For a specialist role type, in a developing skill field.

Now if I was some job boards, I would be boasting about these figures. Maybe LinkedIn do, too – I rarely stop around to listen. But actually, they are potentially bad news for LinkedIn. The demands for a targeted network of mutually relevant and known contacts that it strictly strives for us to maintain if we pay a limited amount – is nullified by the openness of job advertising there, if you throw them a chunk of money. All of a sudden, rather like the days of paper advertising en masse and generic job boards like reed.co.uk, it is becoming a haven for the frivolous application. There is no way that the specialist job with 600+ applications, has 600 people in the WORLD that can specifically do the job- but it was an attractive employer, and so the job seeking masses rush in.

It has been commented on a number of occasions by clients and friends within my industry, that the quality of the average LinkedIn application is poor. The ‘Apply With LinkedIn’ option, does nothing to help – as it fosters lazy and commitment-less approaches – and if its THAT easy to apply, often anyone will. What have they got to lose…?

It’s no surprise that there are so few recruitment agencies advertising via LinkedIn.

So we’re coming full circle – like back in the newspaper days when the value of the good recruitment professional was highlighted by the desperation to filter out the applying noise, and let a professional do the short listing and save hours of wasted HR/Hiring time, and more pertinently key time fulfilling the rejection communication cycle that all good companies must abide. 

Social Media IS a great tool for hiring the very best talent in a targeted and well researched manner. But it isn’t and never has been, simply an advertising portal. The minute we get sold that it is, we make steps to wreck the authenticity of the social network and miss the point of what term ‘social’ is all about. Sorry LinkedIn, you have forgotten this, and traded trusted professional networks into one of those ‘contacts-directories’. A list of names, for us to pick off – if we’ve paid out the right amount of money.

Look. I use LinkedIn a lot. I like the essence of LinkedIn a lot. I wouldn’t say all this if I didn’t. Remember people only criticise the brands they in some way care about and want to improve. LinkedIn wouldn’t care what I say – they’re swimming in our money and their site is improving well from a user-experience perspective off the back of the increased income. But it’s changed. It’s rarely social, and it’s rarely pleasant. It’s very functional, and it’s becoming increasingly automated. Some good in that and some bad.

But it should never have been a job board, in my opinion. Trust, is a big thing. Already we see less people willing to talk and share there – my stream of 2000+ contacts is filled largely with recruiters, consultants and sale people. Not often of insights, chatter and selfless advice/help. People don’t trust it as much, and if those application levels keep rising, they’ll stop advertising there too.

LinkedIn, I like you. But you’ve changed. Not necessarily for the better.

Has the role of the Social Media Manager changed, for the good?

I read an interesting and evidently debatable piece yesterday in EConsultancy, asking about how to decipher the different grades of a Social Media Manager in interviewing. I thought it was fascinating, and I see it as a representation of the increasing need; client-side rather than agency-side; to determine a purpose and value for a social media professional beyond purely visibility marketing and that old buzzword `engagement`.

I know a couple of people that were riled by the implication of `A Social Media Manager who Sells`. Well, I think there is a shift happening. Maybe many would say it has already happened. But the role of the Social Media Manager is increasingly as a minimum, part of a direct marketing effort.

I’ve seen the evolution of this role over the past 4 years. It could be argued I know it’s nuances more than anyone else out there – recruiting as I do – social media specialist talent every day for much of that period. For the client-side market initially, it was a good idea. Some examples of early social adopters were thrown into social media management roles, often ill-advisedly, often without knowledge of what the objective was if any, other than get a Twitter page, get a Facebook page, get likes. I would recruit such a role for £22k one day, and £62k the next.

So often, there was no measurement, no management, no direction and little understanding of where they fit into the business. 3.5+ years on, it’s still the same in so many areas. The core employees here…, and this weird social media dude, over…. there. He might be marketing, he could be IT, maybe he’s PR… not sure. Net result? – the social media manager feels disengaged with the business, his value is constantly in question – not least by himself, and the dotted-lines between him and the core business are too distant.

The more understanding would of course find ways of measuring in some way, but often not with sales-based metrics.

But as social media usage of all levels has enhanced, should the Social Media Manager now be a sales person? Probably in more contact with customers day to day, that any other staff member? Positioned in a touch-point of widespread accessibility and suitability to the market? On top of a ream of trends, analytics and charts of customer targeting potential? Sitting in the chair that matches tone-of-voice and characteristics of the customer end? Available to display products through visual, video, and conversational methods of communication?

Why the hell not? Seems so logical?

Social Media sat in Marketing, in IT, in PR/Comms….? Well how about the Social Media Manager sat in Sales?

Well. I’ve not seen it go that far. Not on any great scale anyway. But there is a shift closer to this. The question is how responsible will business’s be when this inevitable shift takes place. Because let’s not get all protective about this – it’s business, and it will happen.

We’ve seen LinkedIn turn into a sales and self-promotion tool, and many sales people have chosen to use it irresponsibly. I would dread that Twitter and Facebook as mainstream channels, would go the same way.

But I do believe there needs to be a value on a Social Media Manager. Fluff, content and visibility is great and lovely, but it’s not enough. Nor is it a defined method of enhancing business. The challenge is making sure that the Social Media Manager DOES sit in the right part of the business, IS given clear objectives relating to expectations and performance, and probably most important – in order to fulfil the correct motivators in their role – is sitting in the right team, in my opinion positioned as integral to the sales and pre-sales process, where they can clearly be assigned as a channel of customer attraction into the sales process.

Someone who is THIS close to the customer-base on such a prominent scale, in my opinion HAS to be integral to the aim of business development efficiency and sales strategy. NOT AS a sales person, but as a corner point of customer interaction, listening, learning, being visible, spending quality time with the right customers, being accessible, and acting as a brand ambassador in all the right places, at all the right times.

But it could also be argued we go a step further. Should there actually be… a Social Media Pre-Sales Manager, a Social Media Customer Service Manager, a Social Media Marketing Manager, a Social Media IT Manager, etc? Define them this way, or any other way that fits – but surely social media interaction should be integral to business operations on a wider scale than just the one department.

The important thing, and the learning from my years recruiting and listening to Social Media professionals and the circumstances of their career-paths, is they need a defined company position, a defined purpose, a reporting line that `gets it`, and an assurance of an opportunity to be measured and recognised for their essential contribution to the business.

Hiring Can Be Fun. Why Not Make It So?

It’s refreshingly brilliant to see the Heineken video this week – The Candidate – which tells the story of an alternative interviewing campaign to find a certain new hire. It’s truly heart-warming, and certainly leads us to consider – what if all recruitment campaigns were this fun!!

Now, we don’t know what the job was for, whether it was just a PR stunt, whether they’ll ever recruit like this again, or whether our friend Guy is even still in the job. But boy it’s fun.

You see, alongside the natural expectation that a person has to be able to actually do THE job (oh yeah, that bit), there is an ever increasing emphasis on the character, culture fit and team integration factor in hiring someone. So, sure – cover the capability bases – but what is your company doing to genuinely measure the character and durability of someone for your organisation?

It’s not about putting them through 6 hiring hoops to the point of them losing the will to be part of your company; but it’s about supplementing the traditional necessities with something creative, suited to your company – that puts the top candidates into a place of genuine creative thought, fun and enamour with your company and your employer brand. Because good people don’t want to join boring companies any more.

Think about a sip of Heineken, and a sip of reality, stir it with a bit of your company’s creativity Mixer – and why not see if your company can spice up your hiring methods.

You make it interesting, I’ll find the people, and let’s have some fun hiring.