Hiring a Social Media Manager: 3 Must-Have Traits

August 23, 2015

social media managerIf you are still letting an intern run your social media accounts, you are doing it wrong. There was a time when Facebook and Twitter seemed like low-stakes methods to self-promote and interact with customers. So some businesses were quick to hand off tasks that nobody else wanted to do to the young, low-salaried employee who just started six months ago. Although that thinking never made sense, it is downright destructive in 2015.

You need someone smart, measured and in tune with the company’s operations to lead the most-forward-facing parts of your brand. Because that’s what social media is today. Before you hire your next social media manager, make sure he or she has the following three characteristics:


A few years ago, when social media was still young, all you had to do to become a social media expert was say you were one. If you had a few thousand followers on Twitter and wrote “Twitter guru” in your bio, then by gosh that’s what you were. Who could argue? Nobody really had any idea what the platform was really for or how to use it for business purposes anyway.

The days of faking it ’til you make it are now over, however. The industry has evolved enough that there are many who really do shine above the rest. It is critical that you find a fully-formed professional who knows the lay of the land, not just a hollow windbag. Anyone can pretend to understand social media and all its potential pitfalls and opportunities. But few really do.

LifeLock, for example, is one company that has found someone who can manage social media very well. The company isn’t afraid to interact with customers and does a good job of humanizing its brand by taking the time to listen to user concerns. By using its Facebook page to inform the community about industry-wide issues — not just PR spin about its own services — the firm’s social media manager is exhibiting a savvy understanding of why potential customers want to engage with a brand on social media.


The NBA has long been forward thinking when it comes to social media. Many of its teams are on the vanguard of finding new ways to interact with customers — in their case, fans — and have adopted a playful demeanor on Twitter that works. While a game is going on, for example, the two teams may wage a friendly back-and-forth competition using funny animated GIFs or quirky jokes.

Recently, the person running the Twitter account of the Houston Rockets took things a bit too far, however. He got over-excited while trying to be clever using emojis, and tweeted out an image of a revolver next to a cartoon horse, adding the words “it will all be over soon,” as the team was on the verge of beating the Dallas Mavericks, which have a horse as a mascot. The implication was a merciful end to the fight for the mascot, but animal rights groups and many fans took umbrage with the cavalier use of a joke about euthanasia. The team fired the social media employee and apologized, but some followers will now associate the brand with cruel jokes.

When you give someone the keys to your social media, they become the voice of your entire company. They can forever alter its perception. You need to trust the person at the top and be confident that they know what is and isn’t appropriate in your messaging.

Profit Driven

Another leap forward in social media is that it should help drive sales. It can’t be solely about PR and customer service. The best companies actually get something other than free advertising out of Twitter and Facebook.

Can your social media manager move product? It isn’t an easy proposition, and not all types of companies can legitimately make money through social media. But the exact amount made — or lost — through these endeavors is less important than the outlook of the person who leads them.

This person shouldn’t see him or herself as independent from the true mission of the organization: making money. He or she needs to work with the other business leaders to try to turn engagement into new customers and then into more revenue. That’s why everyone gets up in the morning and goes to work. That notion must also be ingrained in the social media manager’s thinking.

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