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6 tips to building a better social media team in 2014


A few weeks ago a client asked me the following question: If we were to start building out a social media team here, how would we go about doing that?

Good  question, right. No easy or simple answers though.

But, good direction and guidance? That, I can provide.

While my client and I talked through the scenario for them, specifically, I thought we’d revisit it today from a more global point-of-view.


If you were building a social media team from the ground up, how would you do it?

I’m sure most of you have thoughts. Heck, some of you have actually done this. But, as I thought through the process I’d take, a few tips and pieces of advice came to mind:

Groom the pipeline six months before you actually want to hire.

Since good digital talent is in big demand right now, the smart move is to groom a pipeline BEFORE you hire. Identify 5-7 potential candidates for your position(s) and start talking to them–NOW. Ask them out to coffee. Find out how things are going with their current role–what they like, what they don’t. Just get to know them. Then, when the time comes (they express frustration, you officially open up a role), you get serious and make an ask.

Be patient. Very patient.

You’re not going to find that rock star you want to hire in 2-3 weeks. You’re just not. Not in this climate. Especially with the more senior-level talent. Instead, remain patient. Stick to your guns. And go in knowing it’s going to take you 2-3 months to find that ideal candidate.

Look where others aren’t looking.

With digital talent–everyone’s looking for the same people. A director of digital with 10-15 years experience. A social media account coordinator with 1-2 years experience. Don’t look for what everyone else is looking for. Look where they AREN’T looking. Need a content expert? Consider a freelance writer who might have a bit of marketing expertise. Need a multi-media specialist? What about someone fro the traditional media side? They may need more polishing on the consulting side, but they would surely have the skills down pat. All I’m saying here is think about some of these roles in a non-traditional way–the talent is there, you just may have to look a little harder for it.

Hire for fit, skills and personality–teach them your industry.

In the few years I spent in the health care field, one thing consistently surprised me: How adamant they were about finding people with health care experience when recruiting PR/marketing talent. You see, for me, I always thought the opposite: Hire for skills/experience–teach industry expertise. After all, what’s easier to pick up? Health care lingo, or programming abilities? I say hire for the specific skill you need. I say, hire with fit in mind–after all, fit is most likely one of the top reasons someone will leave the position you’re trying to fill. I say hire for personality–find someone who can hold a room. Someone who can lead a meeting. Someone who will not be intimidated by working with senior leaders, who can be a bit over-bearing. Don’t hire for industry expertise.

Find budding media superstars.

I mentioned this above, but media folks can potentially make exceptional digital superstars. The biggest reason? They know and understand how to generate content that will get clicks and eyeballs. They know how to put together a story. And, in many cases, they know different kinds of media (photo, video, etc.). Find the younger media folks who are looking to make a jump to the PR/marketing side and start having conversations with them. Feel them out. Do they have the kind of personality that would work in an a corporate environment? Would their skills transfer well? Are they looking to make a long-term move or just a short-term shake-up? I definitely think this approach is worth considering. 

Identify candidates with in-demand niche skills.

Two of the most in-demand skills in social/digital right now are: Video production/editing and analytics. Very tough to find people with meaningful experience in these areas–but, they are out there. You just have to dig. But, these skills are worth digging for. On the video side, consider the media approach I suggested above. On the analytics front, think about going outside PR/marketing. Good analytics people can sometimes have a different kind of brain from the more traditional PR types. Look for analyst roles. Look for data geeks. Don’t focus too much time and attention by requiring them to have a deep marketing background–maybe you can coach them up a bit there. I’d argue that analyst background is more important.

So that’s my two cents. But, what do I know? I haven’t had the opportunity to build a team like this. I’d love to hear from those of you who HAVE built a digital/social team. What tips would you give others for how to best start that process?

photo credit: cjmartin via photopin cc



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