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?