Hiring a social media manager is a big decision for your marketing team. Social is one of the cornerstones of a modern marketing department. The first thing you need to figure out is what your social needs are. Do you want to hire a social media manager to run your community management? Or are you more focused on advertising and marketing on social? Or maybe you want to increase engagement with quality content?
Maybe you need all those things. (Which means you’ll probably want to pay more!) Whatever your reasons for hiring a social media manager, you’re going to need the right person. Let’s take a look at the issues around the decision to hire someone to run your social media.
How to know when you need to hire a social media manager
There is an almost endless list of potential tasks for social media marketers: creating content, scheduling posts, responding to questions and comments, analyzing performance and adjusting strategy. The question to ask yourself is what you stand to gain from hiring a social media manager. Whoever you hire will have plenty to keep them busy. But what’s the ROI on their efforts? Do you need your social media presence to grow your business? To support a community of customers? To attract visitors to your website?
There’s something you have to clarify before you hire a social media manager. How does your business see social media? Are you approaching this like a direct marketer, who wants to track everything and know their ROI for each platform? Or are you approaching this more like a brand marketer, who simply wants a presence on specific social media accounts?
If you are willing to take a brand marketer’s approach, can your business financially support doing social media purely as a brand-building exercise? And if you would be happy simply with a larger presence on social media, will your finance department be happy with that? If finance is not happy with that, what could the consequences be?
In other words, don’t focus on the amount of work you have to fill a potential manager’s time. By that measure, you could hire a team of dozens! Ultimately, the time to hire a social media manager is when you’re missing out on potential new or repeat business. Hire when you know you’re leaving money on the table.
Two example scenarios: When to hire a social media manager
Example 1: You’ve built a decent following on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You’re tracking results. Your social media work is generating a small but steady trickle of leads. You are certain you could increase this trickle, but either you can’t get to it personally, or your existing social media staff is already maxed out.
Example 2: You’ve already got an intern part-time. They have built a decent presence on the big social sites, with footprints on the smaller social sites. Results are a little sketchy, but you’re approaching this more as a branding exercise, so you’re okay with the fuzzy results. Your ability (and bandwidth) for tracking is limited. You also feel like the whole social media program needs a thorough audit. You have neither the skills nor the time to do such an audit. Neither does your existing staff.
How much does hiring a social media manager cost?
Depending on how experienced you want your social media manager new hire to be, your costs for the position can vary. At entry level, you can expect to budget around $50,000 annually, depending on where you’re located. On the more experienced end, candidates can ask as much as $90,000 or more. The median salary falls about between these two poles, at $70,290.
Work with your HR department to set a budget for the role based on your expectations and desired level of experience. You can use job boards like LinkedIn and Glassdoor to research job descriptions and salary ranges on the current job market. Depending on these factors, you can also tweak the position’s title to better reflect what you’re looking for. Consider these common social media job titles:
- Social Media Product Manager
- Social Media Account Manager/Channel Manager
- Social Media Planner
- Social Media Coordinator
- Social Media Community Manager
- Director of Social Media
Define success and set expectations
OK, let’s assume your social media needs justify a new hire. The next thing is to spell out what success for this new hire would look like.
Whether you’re hiring a 10-hour a week intern, a full-time social media manager, or an ad agency, you need to define what success is going to look like. What kind of business results do you need to see to justify that 10-hour a week intern? Even if the intern is free, there’s still a cost to your company. The intern needs supervision and a computer. Those are costs.
The results required get more demanding if you want to hire a 10-hour a week consultant, for, say $50 an hour. That’s $2,000 a month, which means there’s got to be a quantifiable business return based on that kind of spend.
Even if you see social media as brand marketing and not direct marketing, there still must be some defined results. Otherwise, three months from now you could be sitting across the table from this consultant or new hire, looking at a report with some very disappointing results, and realizing you’ve spent $6,000 to $24,000 for nothing (or the wrong thing).
Hiring a social media manager (or agency) part time
It could be that once you go through the exercise of defining your needs and resources, you determine that you’re only willing or able to hire a part time social media manager. How much will that cost? According to the freelancing platform Upwork, the median cost is around $14-$35 per hour. If you go the agency route, things can get even more expensive, with hourly agency rates peaking in the $100-$200 range. The actual cost varies widely depending on the size and pedigree of the agency you’re hiring, their geographic location, and what type of services you actually need from them. But suffice to say, your monthly costs could be anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 according to some estimates.
With prices like that, you may be better off just hiring someone to help you full-time. On the other hand, the agency should be able to provide a broader range of skills and more complete service compared to a single person. If you have a slate of various tasks that require a high level of competence, an agency might be a cheaper option in the long run.
Where to find social media experts
Now that you have a job description and a salary allocated, where can you start looking for your new hire? Place a job listing on all the usual places, like LinkedIn, Glassdoor and other job boards. But don’t be afraid to tap into the networking potential of those same sites. Watch the inquiries flood in when you make a LinkedIn post about your position and share it with popular social media marketing groups. Ask your colleagues at other companies or from previous jobs if they have anyone to refer.
How to screen social media applicants
As the responses to your job listing start trickling in, you’ll realize you need to know if these people who say they know social media … actually do know social media.
They should offer links to examples that demonstrate their social prowess. Take note of follower counts, engagement rates, and other metrics. Do their posts garner lots of shares and replies? Did they respond in a timely fashion. Can you tell if they’re using any of the major social media tools, like Buffer, Hootsuite, Oktopost, or SproutSocial? If they’ve included past social media clients or jobs on their application, how do those social media accounts look?
Be mindful of job discrimination as you scrutinize your hire online: There are state and federal rules about using social media to discriminate against job applicants. This applies to race and religion, but it applies to an applicant’s age, too. Just because someone is over 50 doesn’t mean they can’t be a rock star social marketer. Likewise, just because they’re young doesn’t mean they are experts in social (that’s a common misconception). Keep the focus on the work, not stereotypical assumptions.
Once you get to the interview stage, be sure to dig deep. Ask for scenarios and examples from their past experience, not just yes or no questions like “are you experienced with LinkedIn?” Instead, ask for an example of a LinkedIn post or campaign they’re particularly proud of, and how they devised the strategy and approach.
Ask open-ended questions about social media trends that inspire them, or that they would recommend staying away from. You don’t need to be an expert yourself as long as you can see that they have enough familiarity with the topic to think on their feet.
Now it’s your turn
That’s enough information to get you well on your way to finding the perfect social media hire. Hopefully, about a year from now, when you sit down to do their annual review, you’ll have nothing to discuss but success.
Looking to up your social media game? Check out the social media automation functions of Act-On to integrate your social posts into larger customer journeys and campaigns.