I often help clients hire community managers to handle their social media and online marketing efforts. You might be in the same boat – moving on from your third cousin’s little brother “who is really good at Facebook” to a dedicated professional who won’t make your organization look like a chump.

Today, I’d like to share some insights with you about what kind of skills and personality traits you should look for as well as how you should prepare for the interview.

Before we get started, I’ll make an assumption you are not looking for an entry level person – someone who will cut their teeth on your brand before moving onto bigger and better things. If this is what you are after – consider including some of these points in the job description.

 

3 Interview Prep Tasks:

Yes, you should do some homework before the interviewee walks into the room. Unless of course, you really don’t case, in which case your third cousins’ bother will do just fine. Here are some things you should do before the interview:

Is the candidate easily findable online? What comes up when you look up their name? TIP: Use quotation marks and a city to get better results.
For example, type: “Jim Jones” Vancouver in the search bar.

Do they have a blog, LinkedIn and/or Twitter account? Candidates who look at this as a profession, rather then just a job – will have a vibrant online presence. This is usually a quick telltale sign of dedication to their craft. TIP: Use Twitter and LinkedIn to search for them on those networks as well as on Google.

How do they show up? It’s hard to hide your personality, and if you do, your content and how you engage with others will come across as fake. So, is what you see consistent with the tone of your brand?  TIP: Have a look at their online presence, read a good couple screens of tweets, a few blog posts and LinkedIn updates. It should give you a good idea of how they communicate and what tone they use.

 

5 Technical Skills:

Aside from knowing how to tweet or post a Facebook update, your community manager should have experience with some of the more technical aspects of the trade. For example:

Are they familiar with Google Analytics? This doesn’t mean knowing every nook and cranny of the software – but are they able to find the basic information quickly? You can open up Analytics and ask:

  • In the last 90 days, what were our 5 most popular pieces of content?
  • What are the top 5 keywords people are using to find our website right now?
  • How many people came to our site in the last month and how many of those used a mobile device?

There are a hundred other things to measure and track, but these few should give you a good indication of their comfort level with Analytics and data collection.

Can they make a Facebook photo on your timeline stretch across both columns? Can they pin a post of yours to the top? These are some of the basic Facebook functionalities and while they are not the most advanced, it will give you an indication of their level of experience with Facebook.

Are they familiar with TweetDeck, Hootsuite or another social media management tool? If you have more then one hand in the cookie jar (aka. marketing, communications, sales, public relations, etc) you’ll often have a few people accessing the same social media accounts. Your community manager should be familiar with at least one of these platforms. A really simple way to check this is to ask: How would you schedule a tweet with a link to a new blog post of ours for next Wednesday at 9am?

Research & authority building - Guest posting and content partnerships are important pieces of a modern digital marketing strategy, so ask your potential Community Manager to come up with a list of 5 blogs in your industry that accept guest posts? Let them have at the keyboard and look at how they’re approaching the problem.

TIP: a simple google search is often the quickest way to handle this. A simple search would work, for example: ~architecture “guest post”

Crisis management – There are many different approaches to handling bad reviews, comments and trolls. See how your potential new hire would react to a negative comment. Give them a scenario:

Someone just posted: “We were treated like cattle last time we visited. We will never come back and make sure none of our friends ever visit either” on our Facebook page and you found out after three other people have already seen it – how would you reply?

 

5 Ideal Personality Traits:

An ideal community manager possess a unique blend of skills that include customer service, copywriting, marketing, maybe even photography and video production. But all of that means nothing if they are not a good, cultural fit for your organization. Let’s look at the most important part of a community manager’s arsenal – their personality:

Empathy / Altruism – A community manager may be the first touchpoint your customers or stakeholders have with your organization. If there is an issue that crops up, you want your brand to come across as caring and attentive. In other words, don’t be Amy’s Bakery. Empathising with a customer will usually lower the chance of things going wrong. QuickTip: Do they currently volunteer anywhere?

Enthusiasm – It comes across as strong online as it does in person. The polar opposite of indifference, an enthusiastic Community Manager will help you build a positive online experience for your customers and stakeholders. QuickTip: How often do they (genuinely) smile or laugh during the interview?

Detail Oriented – Things shouldn’t slip through the cracks, especially if you happen to go into crisis mode. Their attention to detail makes sure your message is clear and consistent and on time. QuickTip: Did they take notes during the interview?

Professionalism – You can have fun and laugh, but at the end of the day if this person doesn’t take their work seriously your brand will suffer. QuickTip: Look at their online presence and see how it comes across.

Curiosity - Social Media and Digital Marketing is a field that is constantly shifting. There may not be a Facebook three years from now, so someone with a genuine curiosity and willingness to try new ideas can help your brand leapfrog your competition  You could be producing Vine videos while they are still trying to learn MySpace. QuickTip: Ask them to share their favourite, recent iPhone (or *sigh* Android) app with you?

 

Do the work and hire someone who will represent your brand well. After all, they are the eyes, ears and voice of your organization online.

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- ernest