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Three Interview Questions to Ask a Potential Social Media Manager

ImageThough the study is nearing three years old, a report released in 2010 by the CMO Council and Lithium painted a very interesting picture of social media marketing. 67% percent of the marketers surveyed were worried that they had neither the time nor resources to adequately engage with social media. 43% of them reported that the new competency and expertise required to use social media was also one of their major concerns. And that lack of engagement with social media could seriously, and negatively, impact a business’s marketing efforts - a slightly more recent study released by comScore and Localeze in 2012 reported that 63% of consumers surveyed are more likely to do business with a company that had information on a social site.

Social media has grown a lot since 2010, and marketers have undoubtedly become a bit more comfortable with new media, but the problems of competency and time still haunt a business’s marketing efforts. A social media manager is often brought into a company to solve those problems. Experience within social media solves the competency issue, and a job dedicated solely to that specific field ensures that they have plenty of time to spend on social marketing. But as social media is such a novel field, it can be difficult to figure out what exactly you are supposed to look for in a would-be social media manager. While there are plenty of good interview questions, I feel that every potential manager should be able to thoroughly and satisfactorily answer at least these three questions.

Do you know the rules?

Social marketing is a fickle industry. You are essentially trying to use a free service to reach new customers, increase your business’s exposure and, ultimately make money and deliver a return on investment in the process. While social sites are happy to accommodate businesses as their presence creates a fuller experience for the end user, they are quick to blacklist a company they suspect is using underhanded tactics to gain a competitive advantage. Buying followers, buying reviews, plagiarizing articles and posts – no social media manager worth their salt would ever recommend any tactic that could possible break a site’s terms of service. When interviewing candidates, ask if they’d be comfortable with tactics like the ones listed above, and then have them defend their opinion. If they say that breaking the rules is a bad idea, and can explain why, you know that they have a good understanding of how social services expect businesses to behave.

What blogs or sites do you read?

Social media is constantly evolving, and effectively marketing through social sites can be a bit like trying to hit a moving target. For example Google+, which was introduced in late 2011, had by 2012 become a commonly used tool for 40% of businesses, according to a survey sponsored by Social Media Examiner. That is a substantial gain for a relatively new service. But that is how social media works – new blogs and sites flare up and die down in what seems like the blink of an eye. A good social media manager has to stay on top of these changes, which means reading analyses, theories, and opinions on social media. Your potential manager should be able to list multiple reputable outlets, and explain why they follow them. 

Can you write?

Being a social media manager is about so much more than updating Facebook and Twitter. You need content to plug; otherwise your social feeds will either be giant advertisements or an aggregate list of interesting articles that you came across. A good social media manager will be able to write, and write well, allowing you to have a constant stream of interesting, engaging articles that perform well with the right keywords in place and ultimately link back to your business. Ask to see what articles the potential hire has written, or ask for a link to their blog, so you can see how well they write and determine whether or not their style of writing would fit your business.

Though they may seem like three fairly simple questions, you can learn a lot about a potential social media manager by the answers they give. These questions should lead to a larger conversation, which in turn will give you a good idea of how competent the candidate truly is, and how effective they will be at social marketing. There are way too many self-proclaimed ‘social media gurus’ out there, so avoid wasting your time and use the interview as both a way to size up the candidate and vet their social media experience. 

image: interview questions/shutterstock

Join The Conversation

  • Jerry Low's picture
    Jun 9 Posted 3 years ago Jerry Low

    Great tips, Deborah.

    Of all three questions that you listed, I think the last one is the most important. I work with a few social media managers and I can't stress how important it is to have someone that can write to engage and "soft-sell" to the community. 


  • Deborah Sweeney's picture
    Jun 7 Posted 3 years ago Deborah Sweeney

    Excellent point Jim! That is definitely a good way to get right to the issue at hand.

  • Deborah Sweeney's picture
    Jun 7 Posted 3 years ago Deborah Sweeney

    Definitely, while researching for this article I came across a few sources that talked about how a few markerters were unsure as to how to figure out if their social media efforts were successful. Marketers, business owners, and social media managers all need to figure out what they hope to accomplish by utilizing social media, and then figure out how to measure those accomplishments. Like you said, it's not only about more sales. And I'm glad you enjoyed the article!

  • Deborah Sweeney's picture
    Jun 7 Posted 3 years ago Deborah Sweeney

    Haha, well having a high Klout score definitely shows you know how to leverage social media!

  • JimPierobon's picture
    Jun 7 Posted 3 years ago JimPierobon

    Even better version of Question1, not whether someone knows the rules, but:

    What rules to YOU follow?

    Ask the interviewee to ID their own rules beginning with the single most important one.


  • Jun 7 Posted 3 years ago richardbrown2000

    So, not "What is your Klout score?" then ...

  • ajayprasad's picture
    Jun 7 Posted 3 years ago emarketing .

    Thanks for sharing these very unique points. Enjoyed reading your article!

  • Stephen James's picture
    Jun 7 Posted 3 years ago Stephen James

    "You are essentially trying to use a free service to reach new customers, increase your business’s exposure and, ultimately make money and deliver a return on investment in the process. "

    Very true but it's important to realise that all of these things are ROI's, they're just not all financial ones. Its important for employers clearly define what they need to see, to consider their social media strategy successful.

    1) Increased followers IS an ROI

    2) Better brand perception IS an ROI

    3) And ofcourse, more sales IS an ROI

    You very rarely get 3 without 1 and 2. I really liked the article. Its good to see more posts helping employers make good choices.

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