can you spot a social media expert?

Are you a social media expert? Chances are if you’re in marketing, you think you are, and if you employ an in house marketing manager, they think that they are. But what really defines expertise in this relatively young medium?

As social media’s grown, so have marketers’ attempts to crack its code, capture its digital real estate and demonstrate their own position as social media “experts.” From inflating fan page numbers with nonexistent, purchased “Likes” to posting hard sales as status updates or direct messages, many of social media’s experts’ expertise barely scrape the discipline’s surface. A number of masters and undergrad university programs have rushed to fill the knowledge gap by implement their own social media concentration courses as addendums to business, PR or communications programs. However, these programs are still fairly new, and their graduates relatively untested. And so far, there’s no MCAT or LSAT equivalent for social media strategy and planning.

So what’s a business to do when it’s got to evaluate a social media new hire or agency candidates? Everyone’s claiming to be an expert, but what separates the capable from the catastrophic?

7 qualities to consider

Every organization’s culture, consumer base, product/service offerings and budget will require a different kind of social media strategy and strategist. Your business may require a particular candidate quirk – say fluency in Portuguese – but for the most part, we’ve come up with a few basic skills that we recommend you add to your social media expert checklist:

  • Calculating – Social media is about networking, not spamming. Make sure your expert understands the difference when it comes to posting frequency and message phrasing.
  • Results Oriented – A good employee knows that his or her job performance depends on results. Your expert should be able to compile plans with clearly defined expectations, measurement tools and deadlines.
  • Resourceful – It’s nice to be a jack-of-all-trades, but honestly – not every job position demands it. However, while it’s best for an accountant to stick to accounting and a graphic artist to design, a social media expert must have a multidisciplinary skill set. They need a keen eye for analytics, an attentive ear for news, a diplomatic temperament for sensitive situations, an organized mind for detailed planning and a creative touch and quick wit for content.
  • Curious – Social media is a living, breathing monster, not only in practice, but also in technology. Your social expert should be consistently researching and investigating new tools, trends and platforms and how they could benefit your business.
  • Trustworthy – Let’s face it. You’re entrusting the interactive face of your brand – a highly fluid, visible and important entity of business – to one team or individual. You need to ensure that they’re not the type to post prickly political debates (unless that’s your thing), silly misspellings or completely off-kilter comments.
  • Customer Servant – Choose a social media expert who understands how to handle customer service well. Social media digitizes and expedites word of mouth, so avoid awkward situations by ensuring that your social team knows how to make every customer’s engagement experience a positive one.
  • Social Network Linguist – Whatever platforms your business uses to communicate to the digital world, your social media expert needs to be fluent in that or those platforms’ language, member base and content style. Some organizations have even gone the extra step and hired social media teams with separate social media linguists for different social media channels. Each and every social media channel communicates in a unique way, so make sure you acquire an expert who speaks your online customers’ language.

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