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In the last few years of hiring social media managers what have we learned? After all the blogs, tweets, posts and updates, what can we say we learned, took action on and improved?

One thing is certain: It's easy to hire a social media manager who fails to create leads and sales.

Not because they don't want to. The trouble is most social media managers don't have the habits, point-of-view (POV) and skills needed. They don't know the social selling success principles I've been presenting here at Econsultancy.

When hiring a social media manager you're hard-pressed to make the right choice, fast. I know. With this in mind here are 3 "red flags" to watch out for when interviewing social media managers.

When asking probing questions about their "social selling POV" listen for your candidates to say things like...

"Marketing and advertising are long-term, not instant"

This is a clear hedge against creating leads and sales. This position presumes the only sales that happen are those happening instantly. It's a misguided perspective.

We don't live in a world where marketing and advertising is (exclusively) short-term and instant. If you're smart (and I know you are) you realize social media marketing isn't a shortcut to instant sales. 

If your current social media manager, agency rep or candidate tells you this? It's a warning sign. Pay attention and give pause to consider not pursuing a working relationship.

"Social media marketing is mostly (only) about building brand equity"

Again, a hedge. This belief presumes getting and maintaining brand equity is not about selling. If your business (and its brand) is not fundamentally all about selling then what it is about... charity?

I know, I know. Social media is not a place to be selling our wares. It's a special place reserved for being kind, gentle, human, helpful, transparent, authentic.

Ok what's so wrong or objectionable about being all of those things using a system that helps customers navigate themselves toward--or away from--what we sell?

I suspect this exclusive (you can't do this) POV comes from a very real place: Our perception that customers "don't want to be sold to" anymore. But here's the problem with this perspective on the world.

It confuses what customers are often times wanting (from us) with their not wanting to be "pitched" on our products.

Here’s what I mean. After you've engaged and given away some great advice (or a free sample of what you're selling) you will have created hunger inside your prospect. Not hunger for what you sell but hunger for more knowledge, more answers, more free "tastes of success."

If you've done your job right as a content marketer, now IS when a call-to-action is needed. Certainly not a sales pitch. Instead, we need to show them a way to get more answers, more knowledge. We need to show them a clear path to take action--satisfy that urge our engagement just created in a way that gets them what they want (for free) and gives us a lead to work with.

Saying, "social media is mostly about building brand equity" is misguided. I agree, we don't want to offend customers by pitching them too fast, too early. But we can't let that confuse us--cause us to avoid satisfying our customers hunger (for what we can give them, for free!).

Your social media manager needs to understand this!

"People are not on social media to be sold"

This one is tricky. It sounds totally rational and a little part of each of us can relate to this claim--until you think about it for a minute. It's simply not true.

Yet for the sake of argument, let's say it IS true. People don't go to social media to be sold. But do they ever turn to social media to solve problems? Or perhaps discover short-cuts to doing something really important to them?

Do people ever turn to blogs or Facebook to discover new ways to achieve goals?

Sure they do. As people do these things do they sometimes run into businesses that can help them. Are any of these folks meeting up with businesses...and then getting courted by those businesses (via social media)?

Of course there are. Some customers even convert to customers--they purchase! So many of us selling on social media every day. Social media sales success stories abound!

Consider the millions of people each day that:

  1. query Google about a problem they need solved or a goal they want to reach;
  2. end up at a blog;
  3. sign up for an Ebook or educational video series;
  4. end up buying from the blog owner a few months later.

Saying that people are not on social media to be sold is to miss the point entirely: People use social media in ways (e.g. problem-solving) that sometimes direct them toward things to buy.

But, but, but...

"Social media is about humanizing your business, building relationships, and creating a conversation around your brand with loyal brand advocates."

and...

"Social media serves as a platform where current relationships with customers can be nurtured and new relationships can be formed."

All true, my dear social media fanboys and fangirls. Yet what's the point of building relationships, creating conversation, nurturing relationships if ultimately it cannot sustain the business we run? Again, charity?

How do you make someone loyal to your brand without, first, selling them something?

"I don't want to be an expense item..."

In this day-and-age there are many bright, talented folks out there as employees, freelancers and agencies who get really jazzed by sending you home at night and eating--helping you put bread on the table.

One such person that I met recently is Todd Giannattasio of Tresnic Media. I gave an interview to Todd last week.

At the end he said to me, "I tell clients all the time, 'I don't want to be just another expense item on your budget.'"

That's the kind of social media manager I want working for me. What do you think?

Jeff Molander

Published 19 March, 2013 by Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander is a professional speaker, publisher and accomplished entrepreneur having co-founded what is today the Google Affiliate Network. He can be reached at jeff@jeffmolander.com. He is a regular contributor to Econsultancy. 

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Comments (18)

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AC Adapter

I didn't even realise social media could be this complicated! What I would say though is to avoid going to the other extreme where you hire the best salesperson of those that apply to be social media managers - this would also not be particularly helpful.

over 3 years ago

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James Smythe, MD at Culture of Insight

Commercial awareness is vitally important in any marketer. But hiring or firing a social media manager on the basis of results you can measure online is like buying a car only on the basis of its fuel efficiency.

2 reasons: online conversations are still but a tiny planet in the universe of all word-of-mouth. And great media have built their effectiveness case across decades of holistic measurement - we haven't had time to understand the £ value of long term social media effect yet.

over 3 years ago

Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander, CEO at Molander & Associates Inc.

Hi, all...
thanks for the commentary.

@James: Like my title says, I'm writing for people who want to hire someone with the intent of having that someone produce leads and sales. Also, I'm not arguing for conversions or suggesting we not measure. In the past, however, I've pointed out how "branding" folks use fuzzy math to explain their value (or suggest we not use math at all... hence, we're still waiting for their value to be calculated too!).

@AC: Agreed!

Hope to hear some other voices out there.

over 3 years ago

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Phil Reed

Too many social media managers focus on the publishing aspects, rather than the "managing". The end result is lots of content across platforms, but minimal engagement. A dash for followers and fans, rather than a real desire to engage and build the brand.

That may be partly down to the manager's capabilities, but I also think there's a reluctance within many organisations to give their SMMs the freedom to actively engage with stakeholders across social media.

over 3 years ago

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Nick Stamoulis

"Instead, we need to show them a way to get more answers, more knowledge. We need to show them a clear path to take action--satisfy that urge our engagement just created in a way that gets them what they want (for free) and gives us a lead to work with."

I think a lot of brands are still trying to work that out. When they get someone interested they switch into sales mode and that can turn prospects that aren't ready off and push them away. There needs to be a balance between connecting/engaging and pushing people through the buying cycle.

over 3 years ago

Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander, CEO at Molander & Associates Inc.

Hi, Nick...
Precisely why I'm offering free Webinar training on how to achieve that balance :)

http://oth.me/blog-leads

Yes, the problem could be a lack of understanding or skill at being focused on the buyer, collaborative, long-term focused and transparent. Ya know what? I doubt it.

The drumbeat on "not hard selling" is loud and clear and NOT NEW.

Effective sales people (producers) have always known what social media "experts" seem so excited to have just now figured out.

Makes ya wonder if they've ever sold anything themselves eh? :)

Many times what happens is marketers can't pull the trigger on making a call-to-action because they're not THINKING like an EXPERIENCED sales person.

That's why (IMHO) they produce gobs and gobs of content that doesn't go anywhere.

They're confusing their customers' desire (to engage in a way that could lead toward a sale) with customers' aversion to being "hard pitched."

Make sense?

over 3 years ago

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Nicole Fortunaso

Thanks Jeff for good break down of social media expectations verse results. This is why I believe it is important to have attribution tracking to demonstrate how social influences the purchasing decision.

One question though in your commentary you mention that each of the headline statements is sitting on the fence, could you clarify this a little more for me... eg..
QUOTE:
"Social media marketing is mostly (only) about building brand equity"

Again, a hedge. This belief presumes getting and maintaining brand equity is not about selling...."

But a social media person that takes this into account is realistic and a person that you would like to work with?

Is this because they are real about what social media is and is not with VOC and how this can play out in the sales process. AKA a good social manager knows when to create an opening for the companies call to action, as you mentioned above.

Looking forward to your thoughts...

over 3 years ago

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Phil Lauterjung, President at Integrated LeadGen Results

No matter what you do from a marketing standpoint, the bottom line is still the bottom line. If you aren't supplying qualified leads for sales to pursue then you aren't helping the organization to survive. Period.
I have yet to see a company survive on likes and follows.

over 3 years ago

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Clay Coomer

Jeff- What is your opinion about Pizza Hut Inc. conducting 140 second interviews at SXSW a few weeks ago to choose their SMM? Do you feel that is the right way to choose this position for such a powerful, world leading brand?

Great article, by the way.

over 3 years ago

Joseph Buhler

Joseph Buhler, Principal at buhlerworks

My first piece of advice: If you want to generate immediate leads and sales, hire a sales manager. If the results are not expected immediately, then hire a business development manager.
Those are two perfectly fine candidates for that job.

To call a candidate you intend to lead and manage your presence on the social web a "hedger" because he/she tells you the truth about what direct and immediate outcome to expect from that customer engagement is admitting the inability to understand what social business is about today and in future.

Over the past year or so many have attempted to sell social web activities by demonstrating a direct impact on the bottom line usually with rather strained examples. It would serve everyone better to focus on the fundamental shifts in consumer behavior and devise business strategies to better meet their demands. As part of that effort it will become clear where social web efforts best fit into the overall tool kit.

All these initiatives to just add some social media manager to the existing mix and expect wonders are just recipes for failure. The same was true a decade or so ago when every business just added a website to whatever they were doing because that was the thing to do then rather than realize the transformative effect the web had on how business was to be conducted going forward as we now all realize in hindsight. The same will happen this time as the social web will shape and influence how organizations interact with customers.

over 3 years ago

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Kent

Love this article, people don't go to social media to be sold (in fact, no one wanted to be sold), but they look for solution for their problems.

over 3 years ago

Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander, CEO at Molander & Associates Inc.

@Nicole... Hi. Re: clarifying myself...

"Social media marketing is mostly (only) about building brand equity" is a hedge for many managers. They say mostly and mean only... in that they are skilled (only) at developing and sending messages outward. (not in the next step---capturing demand, nurturing it to a sale).

"getting and maintaining brand equity is not about selling...."

I'm saying directly: Yes it is!

Indeed, a good social manager knows when to create an opening for the companies call to action.

How am I doing on clarifying? :)

@Phil. Hi there. Well if you've been following me on this site (or anywhere) you see I tend to attract people who will (at the same time) defend "engagement", agree that "it's not all about Likes" and them move quickly into "we should measure X, Y and Z" KPIs. Sure, we should. But we should measure them to the extent that they plug into a lead management process.

I think Nicole will agree... what tends to go on in marketing departments (especially at large brands) is the KPIs get measured with the intent to decide if "more engagement" is desirable.

Make sense? We see a lot of "wow... that worked... let's do more of that!" (engagement) instead of "wow... that worked, look at all that attention we just created. next time, let's do something with it!"... or "did we capitalize on that? how many leads did we get?"

@Clay... Nice to hear from you. Thanks. I work hard at this stuff to keep it focused and real. I think that this industry LOVES to talk about itself and glorify itself. It has done a very good job of creating opportunities to do so. I think what you're implying here IS (??) that it trivializes the role to choose a SMM that way. If that's what you're implying I agree.

@Kent. Thanks for the feedback.

over 3 years ago

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CD

Hate to break it to you, but social media is not about lead gen. It's about "traffic gen" back to your website, where hopefully they will encounter a decent white paper or webinar to attend.

over 3 years ago

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CJ

This article is totally ripped off from Forbes, with maybe a modification to the grammar from passive to point of view.

Its Blogging 101 to reference or attribute the article back to its source, as a courtesy. This website and author has completely lost credibility.

about 3 years ago

Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander, CEO at Molander & Associates Inc.

CJ you are mistaken... unless Forbes ripped me off :) so please share a link?

about 3 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@CJ This is the Forbes article you are referring to: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyclay/2013/03/20/hiring-a-social-media-manager-watch-out-for-these-red-flags/

1. It was published a day after Jeff's article here.

2. It acknowledges and links back to Jeff's article.

Please check your facts before throwing accusations at this site and our writers.

about 3 years ago

Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander, CEO at Molander & Associates Inc.

Thanks, Graham. I had not even seen this.

I love blogging here. It is a privilege. That said, it is very interesting to me that eConsultancy is seen (by its audience) as an entity that aligns with any given author. The author is... well... not even appearing to be the author, really.

I've also found that when most people tweet they attribute the article to eConsultancy---not the author.

Shouldn't authors get some credit... especially when it's original thought and someone taking a firm position?

about 3 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Jeff I agree, though we can't necessarily control how people attribute posts.

It could be that we need to make it clearer which posts are guest authored. It does say so in the author bio, but maybe that is too easily missed.

about 3 years ago

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