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With more and more companies looking to use social media, it's no surprise that more and more of them are recruiting individuals for specialist social media job roles.
But how do you find the right person to mange your social media strategy and execute it on popular services like Facebook and Twitter?
That can be difficult, and unfortunately, many companies make big mistakes when recruiting for social media positions.
Here are six of the biggest mistakes you should seek to avoid...
Underestimating the importance of experience
The stereotypical social media guru may be a teenage or twenty-something wunderkind with 10,000 Twitter followers but that shouldn't fool you into believing that it's a good idea to hire a person who lacks formal relevant work experience.
Personal social media prolificacy doesn't necessarily give an individual the ability to execute a social media strategy for a business, so underestimating the importance of experience can be a huge mistake.
Undervaluing marketing knowledge
When it comes to experience, do not undervalue the importance of marketing knowledge. In other words, if you're considering hiring an individual who hasn't taken a real-world course of Marketing 101, you're doing your social media strategy a major disservice.
While there may be very good reasons not to hire somebody who has spent the past two decades in traditional marketing roles, you shouldn't be under the impression that the solution to your social media challenges is to hire an individual who doesn't understand basic marketing concepts and who, for instance, can do little more than write catch tweets and Facebook updates.
Courting individuals who don't know your industry
For obvious, it's difficult to be successful with social media if the people running your social media initiatives don't understand what you do.
Needless to say, if your company is in a niche market, it may be difficult to find candidates who understand social media and your industry, but at the very least you should recognize the perils of hiring someone who is effectively blind to the realities of your business.
Hiring before you're ready
For many businesses, social media is an increasingly important part of the marketing mix. But are you really ready to recruit a person dedicated to social media?
It's not always an easy question to answer, but there are some basic questions you should be asking yourself before you do so, like "Do we really know enough about social media to manage such a hire?", "Have we identified the responsibilities and objectives of the position?", and "How are we going to calculate whether this position is producing an ROI?"
Being seduced by the social media hot-shot.
As social media matures, it's getting harder for charlatans. But that doesn't mean they aren't out there. Be very, very wary of hiring somebody who promises the world and wants to overhaul your entire marketing strategy around social media.
Again, social media can be an important part of the marketing mix, but the operative words are 'part of.' Anybody who tells you that social media is the end-all and be-all of your business and who acts like he or she is applying for the role of CEO should be avoided.
Most hiring decisions are subjective. Yes, you can administer tests that aim to measure skills and knowledge, and you can filter applicants by objective criteria. But at the end of the day, tests and filters don't guarantee that a candidate really has what you need.
That's why when it comes to social media, which has so many qualitative characteristics, it doesn't pay to be lazy.
Apparently, for instance, some companies are actually using Klout scores to screen applicants for social media-related jobs, believing that Klout accurately measures 'influence' and that those who have higher Klout scores will be better able to put their supposed 'influence' to work for you.
Make no mistake about it: this is a lazy way to screen applicants. Social media is social, and you should be prepared to get to know your candidates, not the numbers that supposedly reflect how much 'influence' they have.