By Amy Kattan If you stay up to date on the latest trends in social media, I'm sure you've read Cathryn Sloane's article on NextGen, Why Every Social Media Manager Should be Under 25. Cathryn argues that since "under 25ers" were teenagers when social media exploded (aka when Facebook started), they have a superior understanding of social and are therefore, most qualified for social media positions. Needless to say, this strong opinion was not so well received by many social media professionals. Whether you agree or disagree, I'm here to argue that the age of your social media manager is insignificant: Your social media manager needs to be not only the voice of your brand, but someone who accurately represents your brand's core values and has an understanding of the company's overarching strategy. When hiring your social media manager (or any type of social media position), here are a few things you should look for (besides age):
1) Knowledge of major social platforms: Although there are definitely a few points Cathryn made that can be disputed, she did touch on one very important point: your social media manager needs to understand the major social platforms (or, at the very least, have the ability to learn the platforms quickly). Part of understanding social is understanding the platforms and how they can be most effectively used to benefit your brand.
2) An understanding of how people work: Social media is not a broadcasting tool: It's a way for brands to tap into people's natural socializing processes. In order to do this, your social media manager must understand your consumers' typical behavior patterns, including how they communicate with one another and interact with brands they support.
3) An understanding of how business works: Understanding social media is great, but it means nothing if these efforts aren't providing any value to your business. What are you paying your social media manager for? What results can you show? Your social strategy should tie into the brand's overarching business strategy. It is essential for your social media manager to understand your company's challenges and goals so that he/she can build your social strategy around that.
4) The capacity and eagerness to learn: Social media is an industry that is constantly changing. Regardless of the amount of experience your social media manager has, the willingness to learn is one trait that cannot be overlooked. This person must be willing to stay on top of changes on current social platforms in addition to staying up to date on emerging platforms that will be a good fit for your brand. Your social media manager must also be able to determine if your current social strategy is benefiting your business and identify challenges on a regular basis.
5) Adaptability: Since social media changes every day, your social media manager must not only stay up to date on all of the changes, but also be willing and able to alter your social strategy accordingly. Making sudden changes to a plan is never easy but in this industry, it is essential. It is important for your social media manager to be driven by the success of your brand, which often means re-evaluating tactics when new opportunities emerge.
What do you look for in a social media manager?