What to Look for When Hiring Social Media Tech Talent in 2014

Social media professionals need to have a specific set of communication and technical skills as well as varied experience if you expect them to be a strategic part of your business in 2014.

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Tue, January 07, 2014

CIO — As social media evolves to become a major platform of engagement with your customers and partners in 2014, so, too, will the skillsets needed to make sure it's being used efficiently and effectively.

Social Media Success

Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and others are still relatively novel for companies in terms of trying to use them to extend their reach and better engage and track customer and partner behavior, says Kimberly Samuelson, director of ECM strategy at Laserfiche.

"For many companies, their first pass was, 'Let's use an intern, or someone really young, because they inherently know how to do this stuff,' but it quickly become apparent that wasn't the right approach."
--Kimberly Samuelson, Laserfiche.

Because of its newness, many companies initially hired young, less-skilled talent to manage and implement social media strategies out of a misguided assumption that these employees would know intuitively how to use and best leverage social media, she says.

"From a corporate perspective, it was hard, at first, to figure out how to use social media effectively," Samuelson says. "For many companies, their first pass was, 'Let's use an intern, or someone really young, because they inherently know how to do this stuff,' but it quickly become apparent that wasn't the right approach," she says.

Finding the Right Skills and Experience

Focusing on talent that knows and understands these platforms only from a consumer perspective completely ignores the strategic business applications of social media and the complex psychological, marketing, technical and big data aspects that are a huge part of a successful social media implementation, Samuelson says. That's why it's crucial that social media talent have a specific mix of skills and experience, she says.

[Related: How to Hire a Social Media Specialist]

"Talent in these areas should have some experience with traditional platforms of engagement -- the typical marketing and communications areas. You need someone who has customer service experience; who can handle customer interactions, complaints and negative engagement. But these also are technical platforms, so work should also understand how consumers use technology and have some tech expertise themselves," Samuelson says.

Social media careers

"In addition, there should be emphasis on the psychology of human interaction to be able to effectively use social media to get to customers and partners," Samuelson says. "With all of these skills, an intern or a freshly minted grad just isn't going to cut it," she says.

Social Is Strategic

Based on the types of social media positions available, it seems employers are starting to understand the strategic role social media can play in their business, says Shravan Goli, president at Dice.com, and they're trying to hire accordingly.

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