Social media is no longer a ‘nice to have’ for B2C businesses. It is an indispensable communications channel particularly for the hospitality, entertainment and retail sectors, where the customer’s relationship to the brand is especially close. Not only are consumers more likely to want to have online conversations with brands in these sectors, but they expect the brand experience to be consistent in every interaction, both online and off.

As  large brands look to adapt to this growing need, they face the challenge of finding employees with the right skill set to represent their brand’s voice online. Consider the following before embarking upon your search:

Community Building vs Content Creating

There are two distinct sides of social media management, each of which requires a unique skill set.

Community building requires you to engage with an audience by listening to what is being said and responding appropriately, based on the brand’s voice and goals. Community Managers have the job of building relationships, recovering service and identifying conversation trends.

The content creation side of social media management involves crafting Tweets, Instagram photos, Facebook posts and more. This is a creative job that should be done by someone who thoroughly understands the brand from a visual and tonal sense, and who understands the type of content that resonates with your audience and can create and plan content accordingly.

     “Put simply,  community building can be seen as a customer service function, while content creation is more of a marketing function.”                                                                                                

For your business, it might make sense to split these functions across two or more roles, particularly if many people are involved in responding and you want to restrict content creation. Social media management tools designed specifically for engagement can be set to restrict a staff member from posting new content, allowing them to only respond to audience posts and comments.

However, if you are resource constrained, you could focus on combining both functions into one role, by finding someone who is strong in one area and training them in the other. Whether your search is internal or external, here are some of the skills to look for when interviewing Social Media Managers:

Content Creation Skills

  • Ability to take or source good photographs
  • Writing (ideally they could show writing samples, or you may have them write sample posts/responses)
  • Basic photo editing
  • Familiarity with the photo editing and social media tools you use
  • Understanding of different styles and types of photographs
  • Ability to create video for Instagram Stories etc.
  • Understanding how the brand should look and sound online
  • Content planning and scheduling

Community Building Skills

  • Clear written communication skills
  • Knowledge of the company and its offering
  • Understanding of how to deliver on customer service standards
  • Character traits: polite, attentive, positive, passionate
  • Able to proactively reach out and grow an audience
  • Skilled at relaying information to various departments
  • Strong time management skills (knowing how much time to spend with customers)
  • Handles unexpected situations well

Other skills (relevant to content creators and community builders)

  • Ability to see big-picture: how social media connects to the sales funnel
  • Knowledge of data analysis/platforms
  • On top of the latest digital marketing trends

Finding the right personality

Whoever looks after your brand’s social media essentially becomes the voice of your brand. Therefore it makes sense to compare the candidate’s values and characteristics with those of your brand. No matter how skilled the candidate is at ‘putting on’ your brand voice, it won’t be as authentic as if you find someone who truly embodies your brand personality. If you have a candidate who is a perfect culture fit but lacks experience, it could be worth training them on the skills required, rather than the other way around.

Once you have found the right person, it’s up to the employer to allow them the freedom to do their job. Two Roads CEO Niki Leondakis explains, “The best innovation comes from the inside out. Creativity happens when our employees are empowered and they are not feeling any fear.” Remember that there is always a period of adjustment while someone figures out exactly what resonates the most with an audience. Review and optimise your strategy with your social media manager, allowing them to share the learnings they have observed.

Above all, authenticity is key. With the right person and guidelines in place, don’t be afraid to let your social media manager express your brand’s personality in new and dynamic ways.