By Annie Ellicott

My clients are ALL in need of more hands on deck on the marketing front. Many have decided to take on part time or fulltime help to resource their increasing demand for daily support on the social media front. From responding to customer questions, comments, likes and tweets to producing new content for SEO and lead capture, to tracking page insights and campaign analytics…there’s a lot to do!

So how do you ensure that when you hire your social media team member, you hire WELL? Having hired many teams myself, I view hiring as a total GIFT. You have one opportunity to make an investment decision which can and will influence the success of your business. So don’t blow it. Take your time and tread carefully.

Here are some tips for hiring a social media intern or assistant which will hopefully pay off in terms of improved efficiency, productivity, lead capture and marketing effectiveness:

Social media experts need 4 skill sets (ALL four):

1. Familiarity with how to maximize the evolving features of each social media platform (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr at a minimum) and a scheduling tool to facilitate rapid posting. Ask them what travel social media meccas they know and use. Ask them which scheduling solution they prefer and why. Ask them how they stay on top of the changing landscape in social media. What was the last conference they attended (online or off) to keep their skills current?

2. Creativity. A good social media partner must be able to write well and understand how to write differently between the voice you use in an authoritative blog vs in Facebook vs the vibe you need for site content. They need to be able to write compelling subject lines and headlines. They need to be highly visual and know a good image from a bad one. They need to write well. They need to be copy editors of their own material. Ask them for a writing sample (give them a mission, a real example based on a post or campaign you might execute at your company).

3. Technical Skills. You can’t search optimize a blog post if you don’t understand how the search algorithms work these days. If you don’t understand how browser settings and CSS can impact your formatting from a visual standpoint. If you don’t understand the value of HTML5 markup. If you don’t know how to use Facebook Developer Apps. If you don’t understand how to set up tracking codes and evaluate analytics. Ask them how technical they consider themselves and why? Ask them to describe the most technically challenging social media project they have worked on.

4. Marketing Experience.  Social media marketing is different from advertising and selling. It is centered in relevance, authority, influence and viewer engagement. It is not about you, it is about THEM. A good social media intern or assistant MUST understand this as otherwise, they will try to use the wrong tactics in this medium and turn off the audience instead of igniting a “sharing fire” within them. Ask for how they think social media marketing is different from traditional advertising. Ask them what they think of your current social media marketing and why. Ask for specific examples of a campaign they executed across platforms. Situation. Action. Results.

Once you’ve hired your team mate, make sure to set up a 30 day, 60 day and 90 day check-ins to review milestones and performance. Your company’s and theirs. Make sure you set up incentives for them to excel and then reward them when they do. Good luck!