How to Hire an Expert Social Media Manager | Toggl Blog
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How to Hire an Expert Social Media Manager

Juste Semetaite Juste Semetaite Last Updated:

We’re finally witnessing the dawn of the Social Media Manager era.

Be it a big business, a small business, or a solopreneur – everyone’s on social media today.

But that’s where the problem is, actually.

Many think they know how to manage social media marketing because they consume social content daily. WRONG!

Social media marketing requires expertise and a broad range of skills. And that’s what makes hiring a social media manager a bit of a journey.

If that sounds terrifying, fear not… and read on.

Why you should think about hiring a social media manager

Social media forms one of the five core components of a content marketing strategy, along with mediums like infographics, blog content, podcasts, and videos.

Social media helps you connect with a different audience than the other four content types – and connect more directly too.

Hiring a social media manager has tangible business benefits.
Hiring a social media manager has tangible business benefits. Source

And the overall audience out there is big.

Sprout Social shares that in January 2022, there were already “3.96 billion total social media users across all platforms.” Sounds like an opportunity your business wouldn’t want to pass up (like that extra helping of your favorite dessert).

Now, we know that bunch of content-hungry savages needs to be fed! But, it takes a specific skillset to feed them the right content. (And no, videos of your dog in a hat don’t count. Sorry!)

You need to publish content that’s relevant and helpful to get high engagement and reach your social and digital marketing goals.

The bottom line — you need to hire a social media manager. And a competent one.

A social media manager creates added value for a business
What is social media marketing? Source

What is a Social Media Manager?

A social media manager is a content specialist with specific skills in producing, managing, and improving a company’s social media channels, like LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube or Facebook.

They publish content from the brand on these channels, in the voice of the brand. In other words, instead of those videos about dogs in hats (and other cute pet antics), they’ll publish a video about how your service or product helps to solve a problem a customer is experiencing.

Here’s a practical YouTube video explaining what a social media manager actually does on a day-to-day basis:

Now, let’s see what social media management typically entails.

The role and responsibilities of a Social Media Manager

So what exactly does a social media manager do?

Well, they’ll manage all the social media content for the business. They’re responsible for improving the social media metrics (measurements of success), such as the number of followers or engagement.

Social media managers are often extpert-level multitaskers.
Social media managers are often expert-level multitaskers.

Looking more in-depth, social media manager responsibilities include:

Creating and implementing a social media strategy.

This will include the goals for all your social media accounts, such as increasing brand awareness or community engagement. And the metrics used to measure those goals, such as a 20% annual increase in organic social traffic.

Set social media management goals that align with your marketing plan
Set social media management goals that align with your marketing plan. Source

Creating social media posts for all social channels.

Ideally, social media managers create posts in advance that cover two weeks, a month, or even a quarter (for organized marketing teams). Though the successful candidate should apply best practices for writing social copy, a few basic pointers include:

  • Knowing your audience and communicating in their language.
  • Creating engaging copy. Plus, practical and helpful content trumps trying to be clever.
  • Sharing a variety of content that covers these four pillars: educate, entertain, inspire, promote.
  • Structuring the copy so that the most important information is at the top as some platforms only display the first few lines of content.
  • Choosing the best time and frequency of posting that suits your clientele.

Posting a wide variety of media types

For example, a video or carousel posts and continually optimizing based on what performs

Every social media manager knows that people love to click on carousel posts – engagement tactic unlocked!
Every social media manager knows that people love to click on carousel posts – engagement tactic unlocked! Source

Organizing the posts in a social media calendar.

This helps everyone in the digital marketing team – and other teams they work with – get a bird’s eye view of what’s scheduled for the week, month or quarter.

Scheduling the posts in a scheduling platform like Buffer, Sprout Social, or Hootsuite.

Typically these resources also measure your social media KPIs so you can easily spot what to change and improve. And you can use these platforms to manage your social media calendar, too.

Monitoring, analyzing, and reporting on social media metrics to key stakeholders.

It’s also handy to keep up to date with the latest trends in each channel, so you can incorporate them to boost metrics.

Supporting promotional strategies.

Typically, this is achieved by collaborating with other teams producing lead generation, email marketing, and event promotion content, and reaching potential customers via your social accounts.

Establishing and maintaining good relationships with the influencers in your industry.

Influencer marketing is a proven way to boost brand awareness fast. Of course, there’s some quid pro quo — you need to support their content in return. Fair enough!

5 Skills of a top-level Social Media Marketer

Social media manager (SMM) skills partially overlap with a content writer’s skill set. But, there are a few components particular to the Social Media Manager role.

Here are a few vital skills to keep a lookout for.

#1 – Creates excellent social media content

They love creating social media content in any format and adapting it to what produces the best results. They also tie in the latest social media trends where relevant. Plus, they are familiar with all the social media channels and platforms’ best practices to maximize social efforts.

#2 – Knows social media trends

A great social media manager will know all the latest social media trends inside out. They’ll have the drive and confidence to test out new formats and platforms. With TikTok having grown by 105% since 2020, for instance, it pays to choose a social media marketing expert that’s in the know.

Know your social media platform trends
A great social media manager will know all social media platform trends. Source

#3 – Confident working with analytics

They know how to monitor, analyze and improve social media metrics using analytics and share findings and reports with the business. Sometimes it’s as easy as knowing how to use each platform’s built-in reporting tools, but a good grasp of analytics is a bonus skill.

#4 – Strong organizational skills

Even if the team is using a content calendar for social posts, social media management can become chaotic (aka, a nightmare) on occasion. (Especially when there are seagull managers in the vicinity!)

#5 – Excellent at building relationships and communities

They’re confident by nature and natural relationship builders. This is particularly handy if they need to connect with influencers and build and maintain communities around your business.

6 Signs it’s time to hire a Social Media Marketer

Businesses that don’t prioritize social media are not maximizing their online presence. And as a result, they are not reaching their target audience as widely as they could.

Most businesses reach a point where they see social media as one of the core growth pillars of their marketing strategy. If that’s you, take this as a clear indication you need a dedicated person for your social media marketing.

But what other signals indicate you need to hire a social media manager?

  1. Obvious underperformance of your social media channels. If your social media presence is outshone by competitors and ignored by potential customers, you better consider getting a professional on board.
  2. Your brand is everywhere but nowhere. Your business is active on so many channels it’s becoming too much to manage effectively.
  3. You have the budget and the resources but don’t know where to allocate them. You’re not sure which channels would best suit your brand or how to best leverage them to achieve growth goals.
  4. Your social media content strategy is a black box. You’re not quite sure how to measure social media performance results and how it’s impacting your marketing efforts.
  5. Your company wants to build an online community and doesn’t know how to get started.
  6. On-and-off approach to social media. Nobody on the team has the time to commit to posting consistently. Ask any social media expert, and they’ll tell you that simply showing up consistently is one of the most underrated social media hacks.
Today’s fastest-growing brands participate in digital communities to earn engagement and loyalty – and getting it right is a Social Media Manager’s responsibility. Source

So, where do you find the right social media experts?

It sounds pretty meta, but many social media platforms, like LinkedIn, are a great resource for finding a social media gem to hire. So yes, go to the source and see who’s looking for a social media manager job.

Another great place to find social media managers is through freelancer platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, or Freelancer.com, where freelancers advertise their services.

Should your hiring team not have any joy with the above, online university job boards could be an option too. However, make sure the candidate’s experience level matches your job requirements.

And don’t expect someone straight out of uni to have the same experience as someone that’s already been in the job for five years!

Right, now let’s pull this all together.

How to hire — Social Media Manager — from the job description to the hiring process

Hiring the perfect candidate for any role may seem like an uphill battle. And especially so if hiring teams stick to traditional recruitment processes, like CV screening.

Luckily, there are more effective ways to determine whether a candidate is the right fit. And save everyone time and hassle along the way. Moving away from relying on interviews to determine a candidate’s suitability is a big step forward.

A better way to assess if the person really knows their stuff is by assessing their skills. Short skills assessments can help you filter out the talkers from the doers. But more on that below…

#1 – Define your social media goals and KPIs

Yeah, you’ll need to get your ducks in a row before you begin the hunt. First, establish what your company’s social media goals are, what channels you’ll be using and what your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will be.

Set your social media KPIs before hiring a social media manager
Set your social media KPIs before hiring a social media manager. Source

How to create social media goals that are right for your company

Here are a few tips to simplify goal setting.

  • Have a look at what your organization’s big Why is for being on social media? For instance, to get your brand more known. If you start with this question, it can be a little less intimidating than thinking of the entire broad concept.
  • Then, explore the goals set for the marketing team to ensure the social and overall growth goals are aligned.
  • Conduct a social media audit to establish your benchmark across your current channels.
  • When you set your goals, ensure they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound (SMART)
SMART social media goals will help you make data-informed decisions that improve performance
SMART social media goals will help you make data-informed decisions that improve performance. Source

#2 – Outline social media manager responsibilities and job description

Chat with your team and decide what roles and responsibilities will fall under this new team member.

Tip: If your team is expanding rapidly, clear job descriptions can reduce the confusion about who’s responsible for what and minimize conflict within the team.

#3 – Decide whether the role is a full-time, part-time, or freelance position

This will depend on your company. Large organizations typically have bigger budgets and can afford to hire a full-time social media manager. While startups or small businesses may need to consider a part-time or freelance approach for the role initially.

Tip: To work smoothly with part-time, freelance, or independent Social Media Managers, make sure your company has the tools for quick and hassle-free communication and payment.

#4 – Screen applicants by their skills, not what’s on their CV

CVs don’t paint a true picture of a candidate or what they’re actually capable of. Neither do interviews, at least not as the core step in the recruitment process.

Using short skills tests to filter candidates in the early stages of the recruitment process is more effective.

An online skills test is usually a list of 10-15 questions that won’t take the candidate long to complete and helps filter down the candidate pool to about top 5%. Much nicer than spending hours trawling through braggy CVs, right?

Luckily for you, we already have a pre-built skills assessment template for hiring a social media manager. Grab it for free and launch in minutes!

Social media marketing skills test template on Toggl Hire
Create a Social Media Manager skills test in a few clicks with Toggl Hire. Check it out here

#5 – Use homework assignments to identify the right talent

And once the skills test has whittled down the number of applicants for the social media manager role, another way your team can shine the spotlight on the real talent is with homework assignments.

A homework assignment is a task that a candidate completes during the interview process.

It tests whether they have the right skills for a role. These assignments generally take about an hour or two and must be completed within a specific timeframe.


Skills tests and homework assignments can streamline the candidate search

Here are a few of the benefits of conducting online skills tests and homework assignments:

  • identify the best person for the job
  • reveal an applicant’s work ethic
  • automate the hiring process and quickly funnel through the most suitable candidates
  • reduce the risk of a bad social media manager hire, saving on your recruitment budget and onboarding efforts

Next steps: how to hire a social media manager with the right skills

So, what do you do next?

  1. Consider getting in a consultant or freelancer to perform an audit of your current social media. That way, you’ll find out where there are any major opportunities or low-hanging fruit you can tackle to get the most from future social media efforts.
  2. Get into the details. Understanding which channels work for you and what holds the most growth potential will determine what type of social media manager you need. Like with any other role, the skillsets of social media managers can vary dramatically, so don’t go into hiring blindly!
  3. Finally, explore ways to streamline the hiring process by moving away from ineffective modes such as CVs and interview screening. Embrace modern hiring tools that automate the process and chip away at 90% of the social media applicant pool for you.

Try out Toggl Hire’s free testing templates to get rolling today!

Juste Semetaite

Juste loves investigating through writing. A copywriter by trade, she spent the last ten years in startups, telling stories and building marketing teams. She works at Toggl Hire and writes about how businesses can recruit really great people.

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