by Kristin Burnham

How to Hire a Social Media Specialist

Aug 07, 20123 mins
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As more businesses rely on Facebook and Twitter for marketing, social media jobs are booming. But given how new it is, how can you be sure you're hiring the right people? Here's a look at the social media specialist role and what you should expect regarding skills, experience, responsibilities and salary.

As more businesses continue to increase their presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social networks, social media jobs, too, are predicted to rise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, social media jobs will jump by 21 percent in 2013. That’s a lot of hiring.

Social media specialists—sometimes referred to as social media managers or social media marketers—bring a bevy skills to businesses looking to beef up their presence and results on social networks.

“Anyone can build a Facebook page, but it doesn’t mean it’s successful. These people go deeper and rely on analytics to run good campaigns, tying it all back to ROI,” says Gina Oliveri, senior consultant with executive staffing firm Bowdoin Group.

Here’s a look at what social media specialists do, including the skills they bring to the table, their responsibilities, typical salaries and more.

Social Media Specialist: Responsibilities

Social media specialists are responsible for generating and maintaining a presence on social media sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, as well building an audience through campaigns, ads and updates, Oliveri says.

Just as important as the campaigns they run are the data points they derive. Social media specialists are often tasked with making the connection between statistics and how they translate to a campaign’s success, branding and, of course, money.

Social media specialists likely reside within the marketing department, but usually work with a number of the business units. Job candidates often come from a junior or entry-level marketing or advertising position.

Social Media Specialist: Skills

Social media specialists should have a deep and personal familiarity with the two big social networks: Facebook and Twitter. But beyond that, they should have knowledge of other social networking platforms, such as Foursquare, Digg and Stumbleupon, Oliveri says.

It’s also important that candidates understand the business’s audience—such as its demographics and interests, in order to target posts appropriately. Strong writing and presentation skills are also key as social media communications are customer-facing whether the specialist manages external or internal networks.

Lastly, data analytics skills are becoming more necessary. “[Social media specialists] need to know not only how to run campaigns and ads, they need to know how it all ties back to ROI and how the business can generate revenue from it,” Oliveri says. “You need to be a number-cruncher at some level—put on headphones and look at the data, then come back with intelligent insight so the business knows what to do next.”

Social Media Specialist: Salary

Like most careers, salaries for social media professionals will range widely based on a number of factors, including the size of the company, location, experience level required and more. Generally, Oliveri says, social media specialists should expect to be paid around $55,000 for an entry-level position all the way up to low six-figures for a more experienced managerial position at a large company.

Kristin Burnham covers consumer technology, social networking and enterprise collaboration for Follow Kristin on Twitter @kmburnham. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Kristin at