Social_Media_Mgr_body.jpgby Erin O’Donnell.

Today, social media is an integral part of any company’s marketing strategy, and it’s worth the investment to hire a professional.


Effective social media management is a hybrid of marketing, public relations, customer service, and data analysis. Here are the key traits to look for in a job candidate, either full-time or on an hourly basis:


The ability to tell a story

Social media tells the story of your brand, so look for someone with strong writing and communication skills, says Jasmine Sandler, CEO and founder of Agent-cy Online Marketing in New York City. “The biggest challenge any company has is engagement in marketing. If you’re putting out boring stuff, there’s no engagement.”


Strong blog posts made on a regular basis help drive both website traffic and search results, says Kathi Kruse, owner of Kruse Control Inc., a Los Angeles digital marketing firm specializing in the automotive market. “If you can tell a story with an image, video, or the written word, you’re going to get a lot more people connected to you,” Kruse said.


Experience in community management or customer service

Social media is interactive, so you need someone who can build community with a professional but human approach. Kruse says intangibles like patience and emotional maturity are key, because this person may be your first line of defense in a crisis. Ask how they would handle poor online reviews or negative tweets about your business. Kruse advises business owners to respond to all social media feedback, but not always right away. It’s better to respond calmly later than to inflame a situation with a heated exchange.


Social_Media_Mgr_PQ.jpgA head for strategy and ROI

A social media manager must go beyond tactics and flesh out a strategy, Kruse says. Ask how the candidate has used the business applications in Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other channels to mount a campaign and meet goals. Even the best content will go nowhere if it’s not promoted effectively, Kruse says.


Sandler says a social media professional needs to be savvy about traditional marketing, public relations, and advertising practices. And he or she should be able to analyze the data produced by social media metrics to hone strategy and track progress toward goals, she adds.


The cost of a social media manager

According to the career website Glassdoor, full-time social media manager salaries range from about $35,000 to $80,000; average is about $51,000. Social media strategist Mack Collier, who surveys consultants about their rates each year, finds most charge $1,000 to $2,000 a month for basic monitoring and reports. For strategy creation and integration, expect to pay $10,000 to $15,000 to establish a plan.


The cost of not having a professional in this role is poor social media management that puts both your sales and your credibility at risk. “There are conversations going on right now about your business,” Kruse says. “Do you want to help craft that narrative, or do you want a competitor or the public to do it?”


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