Learn How to Avoid SMAF (Social Media Manager Fraud)

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You wouldn’t allow someone to operate on you who never spent a day in medical school, you wouldn’t hire someone to defend you in court who never attended law school, so why would hire a social media manager who doesn’t study social media? Okay, maybe it’s slightly different since social media professionals don’t need to have a special license, but judging by some of the “professional” social media work displayed by brands on a daily basis, maybe they SHOULD. Whether you are tasked with hiring a social media professional for your organization, or you are a business owner interviewing social media consultants or agencies, here are a few things to look for and questions to ask:

They call themselves a social media guru, expert, ninja, or various other cheesy title. When looking for authentic social media knowledge, avoid these people AT ALL COSTS. There is absolutely no such thing as a ‘social media expert’ and anyone who tells you they are…is a lying liar. Social media is evolving so quickly that it’s impossible to know everything. Here are some questions to ask such a ‘guru’:

Q: What digital and social media blogs and news sources do you read on a regular basis?

Acceptable answers:  Mashable, TechCrunch, SEO Moz, SocialMediaToday, Social Media Examiner, Social Media Insider, Business2Community

Q: What is your preferred Social Media Management Tool for publishing?

Acceptable answers: Let’s hope they have experience working with SproutSocial, HootSuite, Sendible or Radian6.

Q: Do you know what EdgeRank is?

Acceptable answer: EdgeRank was the algorithm invented by Facebook for determining where posts appear in users’ News Feeds. The three factors were Weight, Affinity Score, and Time Decay. It is no longer officially called EdgeRank because Facebook now uses a machine-based learning system to determine what content users want to see which is constantly weighing many different types of factors.

If your guru doesn’t know that social networks have algorithms…RUN!

They don’t practice what they preach. If someone is advising businesses on how to leverage Instagram, and their own Instagram only has three followers, they clearly aren’t in a position to be advising others. Whenever someone claims to be a social media expert or guru, check their Twitter following. If it’s fewer than 1,000, keep it moving.

Q: How many times per day do you access social media?

If the answer isn’t “Constantly! I have Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram open right now in the palm of my hand!” move on to the next candidate.

Q: Which social networks do YOU have active personal profiles on?

Acceptable answer: Facebook, Twitter, LinkeIn, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. Anything additional is great (i.e. Snapchat, Vine, Tumblr), but at MINIMUM, please be on all of the major social networks.

Ask to see their resume and examples of social media communities that they built for clients. Running your uncle’s restaurant’s Facebook page is nice, but does not a social media manager make. All too often I see people breaking into the digital media industry and hanging out their consultant sign, who do not have a proven track record. Social NETWORKING and social media marketing are two entirely different animals. Just because you have spent a lot of time commenting on friends’ statuses does not mean you understand audience segmentation and targeting or optimizing content for complex algorithmic changes. And don’t even think about hiring a college student with no experience to develop your social media strategy because you will waste your money. Questions to ask:

Q: How many other businesses have you created social media strategies for and do you have examples?

Q: Have you worked in-house for a brand or at an agency that specializes in digital media?

If your guru has never worked with other ACTUAL social media professionals or delivered results for any other REAL businesses, then I would walk away.

Hopefully these tips and questions help save some poor CEO or hiring manager out there from SMMAF (Social Media Manager Fraud).

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