Hiring a social media strategist. It’s a process that no one has completely figured out yet. And how could they in such a new–and constantly changing–space? As with any new field, industry or discipline, learning is key and organizations, recruiters and hiring managers will make mistakes along the way. But, we also need to learn. And get smarter about how we identify the right talent in this evolving space.
The process is filled with challenges. Many times, the folks making the hiring decisions have the slightest clue about social media. Quantifiable qualifications are hard to come by. And with so many people calling themselves “experts” these days, how do you separate the wheat from the chafe?
My feeling is, for the most part, most companies are taking a leap of faith with their social media hires right now. How do you really know the candidate you hired has the skills you’ll need in six months? You don’t. Now, that doesn’t make it that much different from any other job in your organization, but I think the odds are longer right now when it comes to making the right social media hire.
Given that, let’s talk about four ways you can minimize those odds and identify a social strategist that can effectively integrate digital strategies into your existing marketing and communications mix:
* Review the candidate’s tweet stream. You’ll be surprised what you’ll learn by digging back a few weeks. Who do they interact with? What’s their “reply” to “send” ratio? How many followers do they have? More importantly, how many people are they following–and who? It all should play a part in your evaluation.
* Look at the candidate’s “digital footprint.” Take a look at all the social platforms the candidate is active on–not just Twitter. Read their blog. Look at how often they post. Look at the number of comments. Notice the topics they blog about. Are they offering innovative ideas/thoughts? Or, are they re-hashing previously discussed content? What blogs are they commenting on? What are they saying? Do they have a YouTube channel? On Vimeo? Trying out FriendFeed? Posterous? All this information will give you a more complete picture and a much better for what kind of candidate you’re looking at.
* Go beyond social media skills. Social skills are just part of the job. What about basic marketing and PR skills? Those are essential. The ability to understand the more technical side of digital. And a solid understanding of business principles. The funny thing about social media jobs is the social work is conceivably the easy part–it’s the business, consulting and integration work that’s the tough part.
* Dig deep into LinkedIn. Go beyond the cursory review of the candidate’s LinkedIn profile. Everyone has recommendations. But does your candidate have an integrated LinkedIn profile? Does the candidate feed their blog into their profile? Does he/she update their status regularly? What do those status updates say about the candidate? What other social media thought leaders across the country are they connected with? What Q&As have they been involved in recently? Do you see any trends? Again, it’s about more than just the resume and number of connections the candidate has.
These are just a few ideas. What else can companies do vet candidates for these social media roles?
Photo credit: judedcoutho via FlickR Creative Commons
First, I want to thank everyone who submitted a nomination last week. In total we had more than 70 individuals who posted, DM’ed or emailed nominations. Wow. As I said in the initial post, we have a tremendously dynamic social community here in Minnesota–something we should all be proud of.
What was interesting throughout this process was the niches of folks that bubbled up across the state. People nominated folks in the legal, not-for-profit and health care industries. There were nominations for groups (MinnoV8) and even agencies (Fallon and the Nerdery–well deserved recognition). There were even nominations for people who live tweeted a birth (Paul Saarinen; Mike Keliher, can we expect another in August with Kermit Keliher?).
Keep in mind, this is a top 20 list. Really, it’s just the tip of the iceberg of what we have to offer here in Minnesota. There are so many more talented people who aren’t on this list (just look at the nomination list). It’s not intended to be exclusive–but instead to help raise awareness for the wonderful people who are doing truly amazing work in this community, and state.
Finally, I’d like to call out one specific individual who helped me immensely in this process: Lalo Carter. Lalo graciously volunteered to help me with the badge design (read: It was all him)–something I never could have done on my own. He provided mock ups for review under very tight timelines, and all for no payment. Thank you, Lalo. Thank you. And if you’re looking for a designer, I’d encourage you to reach out to Lalo. Find more about him at www.lalopop.com (he even makes his own “thank you” cards).
With that…drum roll please…The top 20 MN Social Media Innovators (in alphabetical order):
Lee Aase, social media strategist-Mayo Clinic, founder-Social Media University Global (SMUG). But don’t forget about @LeeAase, the leader behind Mayo Clinic’s social media identity. –@allanwoodstrom
Don Ball, founder of Unsummit. For his conception and brilliant roll-out of the Unsummit (http://www.unsummit.org), two of the best and most original conferences I have attended in a long time. –@megcanada
Connie Bensen, community strategist-Techrigy. For demonstrating that geography and location have little to do with talented people participating in a big way.–@rickmahn
Paul DeBettignies, IT recruiter, co-founder-Minnesota Recruiters. Who supports his community teaching people how to use social media for job searching during the economic downturn.–@megcanada
Jason DeRusha, WCCO-TV reporter, blogger. I would also like to nominate Jason DeRusha from WCCO. He is really reaching out to his audience and keeping people interested in news and MN events with Facebook, Twitter and his JasonCam at his desk at WCCO. He is a great guy, and is putting social technology to work in great ways.–@nikkisticks
Jason DeBoer-Moran, Concordia University, blogger at newcoventry.com. For exposing higher education to the benefits of engaging students and prospects on their own turf. –@thomasknoll
Dave Erickson, director of e-strategy, Tunheim Partners. For his long standing evangalism for all things social media and for introducing me to Twitter. –@rickb
Arik Hanson, Principal, ACH Communications, blogger at Communications Conversations. As a communications professional, I find Arik’s blog extremely valuable in the overall global conversations about the evolution of an industry I have been interested in since I was a kid. His contribution to the conversation is thoughtful, well articulated and provides great value to many locally and far beyond. –@lulugrimm
Jen Kane, owner, Kane Consulting. Great teaching style, passionate about bringing the world of social media to events. She also does a great job making it accessible to newbies and welcoming them into the conversation.– @newcoventry
Christopher Lower, Owner, Sterling Cross Communications. I’ll second that call out for @MrChristopherL, who has single handedly done more for bringing attention to great, local, unique eateries to national and global attention than anyone else I’ve known.–@rickmahn
Joshua Kahn, recruiter, blogger. Josh is leading a group at Best Buy and many/most of the new ideas they are running with are coming from his team. –@mnheadhunter
Gary Koelling, Best Buy, co-founder-Blue Shirt Nation, giftbag.com. For working social on the inside with BSN–@leeodden
Albert Maruggi, Provident Partners, host-Marketing Edge podcast.The man who continually reminds us that social media began long before the internet, he brings passion the conversations, and loves asking hard questions.–@newcoventry
Lee Odden, CEO, Top Rank Marketing. As far as communications go, we are more integrated now than ever. The PR, ad, mktg. and search worlds have collided, all dependent upon one another for optimal results. A PR person that aspires to learn enough about search to be a bit dangerous, I am constantly impressed at Lee’s Online Marketing blog and twitter interactions. I learn much from his insights regularly.–@lulugrimm
Julio Ojeda-Zapata, Pioneer Press, technology writer/columnist. I second Julio Ojeda-Zapata. In the journalism world, he’s done an incredible job crowd-sourcing via Twitter. He’s an evangelist internally at the Pi Press. –@derushaj
Blois Olson, executive vice president, Tunheim Partners. Because not only are his tweets informative but they are quite helpful as well. –@kathyswanson
Mykl Roventine, designer, blogger, founder-TechKaroake, Minneapolis. For his kind, patient teachings of social media AND for combining his passion for social media and love for music/singing to bring Tech Karaoke to Minneapolis.–@karyd
Paul Saarinen, consultant, digital culture and media advisor-Bolin Marketing & Advertising. For being a true innovator: he live tweeted the birth of his daughter before half of us were even on Twitter. –@marrina
Greg Swan, social media strategist, Weber Shandwick, blogger at Perfect Porridge. For being one of my very first teachers of anything related to social media; for constantly working to connect smart people both on and offline; and for loving his job so much it makes him glow –@karyd
I have a unique proposition for you. Pay my way to the BlogWell event on Thursday, Aug. 13 in Minneapolis and I’ll help you and your team get smarter about social media.
Sounds crazy? Maybe so, but here me out on the details before you dismiss the idea.
Here’s what I’m offering:
* You pay my way to BlogWell on Aug. 13 and I will help you/your team get smarter about the social space. We can negotiate exact terms, but for example, I could provide: 1) A complete write up of the event complete with video interviews and summaries of each organization’s presentation. 2) A 2-hour social media boot camp session that builds on the case studies shared at BlogWell with my own personal experiences and learnings.
That’s it. No hidden agendas. No beating around the bush. Pretty straightforward actually. I help you–you help me. Isn’t that the way it should work?
This deal is perfect for:
* Organizations outside Minnesota who can’t make this BlogWell event. Keep in mind, we’re going to hear from people like Allan Schoenberg at CME Group, Lee Aase at Mayo Clinic and Scott Monty at Ford. It’s a killer lineup.
* Organizations right here in Minnesota. Maybe you don’t have time to attend, but you want to extract the learnings because, well, it’s a dynamite list of companies and the content is relevant to your work. Let me do your homework for you. And then some.
* Freelancers/small agencies. Might seem a little steep for the solo/small agency crowd, but believe me, you’ll get tremendous ROI. Learning from case studies like the ones shared at BlogWell is one of the key ways we can all learn best practices in this space right now.
OK, you’re probably wondering, why would I pay you to go when I can just go myself? That’s a fair question and one that may be relevant for some. For others, the answer is simple: Time. Most folks don’t have enough of it these days. I’m offering a simple trade. For $250, I’ll provide you with portable content you can share with your teams. It’s a minimal cost for a big-time return on investment.
If you are interested in funding my trip to BlogWell, please send me a note at email@example.com or DM me on Twitter (@arikhanson). Thank you in advance–I’d be grateful for the opportunity and think I could lend a lot of value to some organization/individual out there.
This isn’t a new issue. Legal’s influence and command over PR issues has been felt for years.
I experienced this first-hand during my time at a international professional services firm. From time to time we’d face public scrutiny around an audit or tax issue for a client. As the issue became more prominent in the communities we served, negative public opinion swelled. Yet, all too often, legal’s response was “we cannot comment.” Now, legal was just doing their job: Manage risk and protect the organization. But, I continue to ask one simple question:
Where do you draw the line?
Yes, companies need to protect themselves. But, at what cost? And now with the social tools available to employees, management, customers and other influencers, it’s an even bigger risk (in legal’s eyes)–and an even bigger opportunity cost from a reputation management standpoint.
Case in point: Some of you may remember this exchange on Twitter last Saturday as I tweeted poolside at my son/daughter’s swimming lessons:
Without knowing the full reason behind why I couldn’t tweet poolside (the YMCA rep never told me why, just that I couldn’t do it per their policy), I’m guessing it’s a risk issue. But, again, at what point does risk outweigh brand and PR opportunities? In this case, it might be folks taking photos of their kids at swimming lessons at the YMCA and sharing on Facebook (great word-of-mouth and increased brand exposure for the YMCA–WOM they don’t pay for, by the way).
I tend to think there needs to be more give-and-take by organizations. Keep in mind, legal’s not making these decisions. They’re in the same boat as PR pros. They get paid to provide valuable counsel. It’s management that’s making the final call.
So, it’s incumbent upon us, as PR/brand/marketing professionals to make a strong case for a more balanced approach. There’s no doubt we should protect our companies, their assets and the intellectual capital they’ve worked so hard to build. But, our organization’s reputations are also at stake here. And, word of mouth through social platforms plays a key role these days.
We need to have these crucial conversations with legal and management. We need to make the case loud and clear for effective online reputation management.
That’s my two cents. What do you think?
Photos courtesy of American Red Cross and kmxphoto.