Social Media Manager has become a rather popular position lately. Whether it’s a dedicated or partial position, the function exists within most organizations.
Enterprises, non-profits, small businesses and associations understand the benefits of maintaining social media channels to generate awareness, engage with prospects and interact with customers and partners.
A Friend’s Interview
Recently, a friend of mine was preparing to interview for a Social Media Manager position. He was looking to transition into that position from a related role and asked me for advice on how to prepare for the interview.
Here are ten tips on how to prepare: they’re meant for people who haven’t done the job before.
1) Clean up your social media profiles.
Pictured: privacy settings options on Facebook.
I can guarantee you that your social media presence will be a key consideration for this position. Your prospective employer will look you up on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (in that order).
Congratulations on passing the “sniff test” – you scored an interview.
That being said, between now and the interview, clean up and optimize your profiles. Professional-oriented sites like LinkedIn are a given; also be careful to review the “Who can see my stuff?” settings on Facebook and un-tag yourself from photos that you wouldn’t want your mom to see.
2) Find and discover the organization’s “brand voice.”
Every organization has a “brand,” which means that every organization has a brand voice. In other words, do some research on your potential employer.
Check their website for a listing of their mission statement or core values (example: the core values of Zappos).
Understand what’s important to the organization, along with their vision for the future. Then, subtly reference some of the information you learned during your interview. When you get the job, you’ll need to tweet, post and pin with the brand voice.
3) Practice being the organization’s Press Secretary.
Photo of Jay Carney via Wikipedia.
Jay Carney is President Obama’s Press Secretary. Like all presidential press secretaries, Carney has a challenging job. He needs to stand up in front of the White House Press Corps and answer questions.
Sometimes he’ll be thrown “softballs,” while other times, he’ll need to address pointed and difficult questions. Carney needs to answer the questions in the “brand voice” of the Oval Office. As a Social Media Manager, your followers on Twitter (for example) are the press corps and you’re the press secretary. So watch a few White House news briefings and see how Carney handles questions.
4) Immerse yourself in the role.
Plan a number of 30-45 sessions during which you observe brands in action (on social media). “Like” some brands on Facebook, both in the target industry and a few outside of that. See how they’re crafting their status updates on Facebook.
Then, venture over to Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and other social networks and observe how brands are using those channels. Pay particular attention to how those brands engage with their audience. You get bonus points for tracking a single brand across channels and figuring out how they uniquely use each one.
5) Be prepared to define ROI.
It’s great that you’re proficient at tweeting, posting and tagging. It’s even better when you can do it in the brand’s voice. Some organizations will want you to take it to the next step and measure the Return on Investment (ROI) of social media.
So do some research on ROI models (for social media) and be prepared to talk through some of them. Then, turn the question around and ask about the organization’s goals with social media. Suggest particular social media metrics that can be assembled to tie back to those goals. The key point: the definition of social media ROI should be unique to each organization.
6) Do research on social media advertising.
Pictured: some of the targeting options available in Twitter’s Promoted Tweets.
There are lots of options for spending money to augment your reach on social media: Promoted Tweets, Boosted Posts (Facebook), Sponsored Updates (LinkedIn), etc.
Do some research on how these work: how are they priced, what are the benefits, how can you measure, etc. If your prospective employer is not yet using these tools, you can score bonus points by planting the seed (with your knowledge).
7) Consider celebrating your outsider status.
Let’s say you’ve never worked in the industry of your prospective employer. Especially for social media marketing positions, employers are starting to look past the “industry experience” pre-requisite.
If the topic comes up during the interview, be prepared with a way to celebrate you outsider status. You may bring a new perspective to the organization’s approach to social media and be able to communicate in a fresh, new way (while maintaining the brand voice).
8) Research agency relationships.
While this may only apply to larger organizations, do some research to see if your prospective employer uses agencies in its social media: PR firms, design firms, interactive agencies, etc. A good place to check is the “Press Release” or “News” pages on their website. Having this information in your back pocket keeps you better informed going into the interview.
9) Think up a creative idea or two.
Do NOT tell your prospective employer what they’re doing wrong on social media. However, it’s fine to observe what they’re doing and think up new and creative ways to do the same thing. Sort of like this: “I noticed you’re doing <this>, have you considered doing <that>?”
10) Research past campaigns and contests.
Take a look at past social media campaigns and contests run by your prospective employer. Understand what they were looking to achieve and how it was received by participants. You’ll have a role in campaigns and contests going forward, so speaking knowledgeably about them during the interview puts you ahead of the pack.
It’s important to remember the “larger calling” of your role. It may be neat to tell friends that you get paid to tweet, post and pin, but it’s all in the context of the organization’s goals.
The social networks are the tools that you use to help achieve those goals. Portray that message during your interview: your excitement about the opportunity is less around social media and more about leveraging social media to advance the organization’s cause.