Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How to hire a Social Media Manager

Today I had a laugh on twitter when my friend posted:

@MrsMcDowall: I love job ads asking for a social media manager with 5 years experience.

Why was I laughing? Well, because in the realm of social media and online fundraising we are literally exploring a new frontier. No one has been here before.

The very first post EVER on twitter was only five years ago in March 21, 2006 when founder Jack Dorsey made twitter history with: @jack: just setting up my twttr

Since that tweet there are now 175 million registered twitter users, 95M tweets are written per day and twitter employees 300 people. That growth has happened primarily in the past two years.

Facebook is a little older. With over 500 million active users today Facebook was founded on February 4, 2004. Their users spend over 700 billion minutes per month on ‘The Facebook’ – that is 18,000 lifetimes – per month. But even a short four years ago most of us didn’t use Facebook at all. The growth chart is out of this world.

We all know that at the moment it is very rare for a charity to actually drive significant revenue from online activities. It is just a fact. For most organizations the majority of revenue will come from offline channels. But that won't last forever. So, it is the progressive and forward thinking charity that has made a commitment to hiring a ‘professional’ to manage their social media.

With 18,000 lifetimes spent exclusively on Facebook every month if people are a part of your business you have to go where the people are. A dedicated social media person is an important and valuable addition to any progressive team. Further, if you have convinced a legitimately skeptical CEO to add this position: the pressure is on – you need to make a good hire and prove their worth quickly.

So how do we find someone who actually understands and can navigate this new frontier? This is what I would look for:

1.The ability to use and understand the languages of twitter, facebook and instant messaging. For example can they say ‘Tweet and ReTweet’ without choking? Do they know the difference between a fan page, cause page and event page on facebook? Can they pass an emoticon test?

2. Do they currently use any of these forums professionally or personally? If so how often? How many quality followers do they have? How many lists are they on?

3. Can they demonstrate how they have successfully transitioned online relationships to offline relationships?

4. How many other charities are they following online?

5. Have they ever donated online? What motivated their gift? How might they apply that to your charity?

6. Can they tell me about four different tools to measure the impact social media?

7. How would they integrate social media with our website? Do they understand the difference?

8. What is the most recent social media benchmarking they have?

9. Does their twitter stream contain a nice balance of RT’s, replies and self promotion? (google them before you call them for an interview)

10. Have they ever tweeted from the bathroom? (ok we can’t ask that but admit – you’ve all done it.)

I guess mostly though, if I was going to hire a social media manager to run my show and prove to my organization that social media is a game we want to be a part of – I wouldn’t be looking for a ‘social media guru’. I’d be looking for a relationship expert. In fact, I’d probably just hire @MrsMcDowall.

In the past couple of months I have observed Clare successfully meet, engage, promote and establish offline relationships with countless charities and fundraisers during her transition moving from Scotland to Canada. Clare is genuine, motivated and as charming offline as she is online. In fact, she and her husband @MrMcDowall have somehow ended up with an invitation to join my family for Easter dinner, and I invited her to observe a very important private workshop at my work. It all started with a simple ‘Follow Friday’.

But if you can’t hire Clare because by the time you read this she has found another job and if you don’t know enough about social media to understand my bullets above just know this:

If a candidate says they have 5 years social media experience chances are they are lying. NO one was using social media 5 years ago.

Thank you for spending time here.