Social media marketing wasn't always taken seriously. Even five years after the public launch of Facebook, marketers were still wondering if they should include the Facebook 'fad' in their digital marketing strategy. But these days, businesses are investing a lot of time to research and test various strategies they should use on social and what other networks they should be on.
Alongside this major shift, the need arose for the social media manager. Usually, employed as part of the marketing team, but in some cases working alone and filling in for other duties, like blogging and email marketing.
It's been a rapid change, and this has left many marketing managers and VPs unsure about what to look for when hiring for the position. Everyone uses social media, right? So, what differentiates a social media specialist from the average Millennial who grew up using these networks every day?
To help you understand what you should be looking for, we compiled a list of 25 social media interview questions to ask. Including even a few of these questions in your interview process will help you separate the experts from the poseurs. Ask and listen to the answers attentively to learn whether your future social media manager is the star performer your business needs.
Read our guide to being a community manager if you're not sure whether you need a CM or a social media manager.
25 social media interview questions
1. What online communities have you managed in the past?
Creating profiles and pages and then posting content to them isn't the job - most users can do that. The ability to build and engage the community is the qualifying test of whether someone is a social media manager or a social media user.
The amazing thing about a focused and mighty community is that this is where the brands’ most loyal and dedicated customers are. No wonder building an online community has become more important than chasing followers.
2. Which social media channels do you recommend for our business and why?
This answers two questions at once:
- Has the candidate done the research on your company ahead of time?
- How well-versed are they in various social platforms?
Pay attention if they mention the target audience, demographics, style or frequency of messaging, and overall strategy.
3. What goals should we set for each of our social media accounts, and what does success look like?
If their answer is to get as many likes and shares as possible, it may be time to end the interview politely. The path from likes to conversions is more like A to K than A to B, so they should be able to explain what that path looks like for different platforms. For most companies, conversions are always the main goal.
The candidate should also be able to help you define success on a strategic and tactical level to support your larger marketing and business goals.
4. What strategies would you use to generate leads?
This question moves from the more general and abstract into the meat of the matter. They should be able to outline two or three specific strategies that will feed leads into your sales funnel via social engagement.
Social media lead generation is now a key component of the modern marketing armoury.
5. Tell me about SEO and its relationship with social media.
There are several techniques for improving SEO with the help of social media. Ensure they understand the latest Google algorithms and what is rewarded and punished.
They should also be aware of the latest social algorithms and policies, as well as social media accessibility.
6. Which social media tools do you use?
Leave this question open-ended, just as it is phrased above. Your company may already have a social media management tool in place or you may be looking for a recommendation. If they're only familiar with free software that does nothing more than allow them to schedule posts to Facebook and Twitter, it's not a good sign. Ask them why they like or don't like different tools and which features they use most.
Pay attention whether they mention they’re using a particular tool for creating a social media content plan. Are they using Google Sheets, Airtable, Asana or an advanced tool like Sendible? This will allow you to assess not only their planning skills but content curation ones as well!
7. What are the relevant metrics for tracking ROI on social media?
Engagement, brand reach, lead generation, and conversions. These are the essential measures of social media's return on investment (ROI). Social media managers are comfortable talking about specific terms in Google Analytics, the software they use and the data they can get from each platform.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that engagement on its own is a success - without conversions (e.g. site visits, reviews, downloads, leads), it means little and should be improved.
8. How do you deal with negative comments or a brand reputation crisis?
The way they define 'crisis' can tell you a lot about how much experience they have. If they haven't had a real social media crisis in their own experience, they should at least be familiar with some famous brand reputation blunders. Dealing with negative comments or reviews properly is vital to this position, ask for examples.
9. Can you describe your biggest social media failure?
Everyone has failures, some more than others. Of course, what you really want to know, is how they dealt with it. Gain insight into their coping skills and how they deal with negatives by listening to how the issue was resolved. Pay attention to what they did (or didn't do) to ensure that the failure wouldn't happen again.
Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. -Winston Churchill.
10. How do you check and stay on top of the latest updates, innovations, and new platforms in social media?
Social media marketing is an ever-changing landscape requiring constant learning and adaptation. Even the most experienced social media managers need to refine their skills. They update their strategies, learn and practice new techniques and stay on top of the latest changes to new and existing platforms.
11. Imagine: Google has just devalued an SEO technique you have used successfully in the past. What do you do?
This is a hypothetical question, but it’s also something guaranteed to happen at some point, as it has happened before. While you're not employing a blogger, it's good to see whether your candidate has a broader understanding of these kinds of changes and strategies.
12. What are your thoughts on TikTok?
Even though TikTok has exploded and changed how we approach digital marketing in general, it's still tricky to make it work for every business. This is why it's worth asking your candidate their thoughts on utilising TikTok for your business.
- What are the best practices?
- Are your competitors on it?
- Is there a trend you could hop on as a brand, and how?
13. Can we run a free contest on our Facebook Page where fans like and share our regular posts to win?
Knowing the rules and guidelines for each platform is absolutely necessary. Mainly to implement best practices, but also to avoid violating the terms of service, getting suspended or kicked off.
The short answer to this question is “no”. Facebook fights against clickbait posts that encourage liking and sharing, but you can still run a proper contest and give additional points to those who engage on social media.
14. Can we see some examples of the social media projects you've worked on?
Results speak for themselves. If they can’t or won’t show you their marketing portfolio, then they either don’t have the experience you need or they aren’t very good at what they do. Would you try to sell a product to potential clients without being able to show it to them?
15. How would you allocate our social media budget?
Specific metrics and KPIs should be discussed and what should go where percentage-wise. For example, a decent percentage can be allocated to Facebook Ads - a medium-sized company can spend as much as $500 per month on paid advertising. Human capital, social media tools, and training are also absolutely necessary for high ROI.
16. How would you communicate with the rest of the company?
Social media management must support other marketing and customer service initiatives in the business. Your future employee will need to be in the loop with most other aspects of the business and will need the buy-in of co-workers to achieve true success. The roles and responsibilities of each cog in the machine (your business) should be defined as clearly as possible.
17. What are our competitors doing in social media?
Again, this helps to identify if they did any proper research before the interview. While a full answer is not necessary ahead of time, it should show you how the social activities of your business compare to your competitors. When hiring a social media specialist, you want them to be aware of what’s going on in the industry, and a true professional will have this covered.
18. Do you have your own blog or do you regularly publish content on your personal social media platforms?
This will show you how well-balanced they are across all aspects of the position, and also what kind of a content creator they are. It's perfectly fine to outsource content, but then they should have a good grasp of creative writing, design and best SEO practices. If not, how will they be able to assess the quality of the outsourced material?
19. What is the most important thing a social media manager should be doing?
This helps you understand what they think social media marketing is and how it should be done. The best answer will be a version of ‘listening to’ or ‘monitoring’ your audience and your competitors. The old saying about two ears and one mouth is especially relevant in social media management.
"Good content always has an objective; it’s created with intent. It, therefore, carries triggers to action." - Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs
20. How does customer service fit into your strategy?
Providing customer service on social media is becoming increasingly more important for businesses with an active online presence. Offering support and posting on social media are two different parts of social media management. Each requires a different approach and seldom, a separate channel. First, they should recognise this fact. Secondly, they should know how to approach each type of conversation - an endorsement, mention or complaint.
21. Tell me a story.
You have already asked about content creation and seen their writing abilities (if they have them). This question is designed to get the candidate to think on their feet. Assess how clearly they can communicate ideas and emotions and how compelling they are. One may argue that if someone can’t tell a story, it will prove very difficult to work and find success in social media marketing.
The story is what’s going to make people excited.- Blake Mycoskie, American entrepreneur and author
Social media marketing has come a long way from publishing pretty pictures and posting pushy promotions. The audience had a lot of time to refine their taste, recognise the value of their needs, and reposition themselves from mere spectators to persons with voice and power to influence brands. This is why the art of storytelling on social platforms has become so important.
Today's users need to relate to the brand's story and values. And so, if your social media specialist can't translate them into captivating and timely posts - you won't be able to get the ROI you're looking for.
22. Why should we hire you over someone else?
This can be used in every hiring situation. Anyone should be able to tell you why they're better than their competition and why they're the best fit for your company. This gives them an opportunity to highlight the best aspects of their skillset and experience.
23. Explain something that is complicated but that you know well.
This is similar to the storytelling question but from a more technical aspect. The "something" can be anything. Possibly they know how to rebuild a car engine or know how to explain social media to their grandparents. The point is, they should be able to comprehend a complex subject and articulate it in a simpler, understandable form.
24. What project or task would you consider as your most significant accomplishment in your career to date?
According to recruiting expert and author Lou Adler, this is the only interview question that matters. It's also the single best interview question for determining whether to hire someone. Lou spent 10 years studying and coming to this determination, so he deserves credit.
25. Pitch my company to me as if I were a potential customer.
This will show you how much they know about your company and what their level of passion is for your product, service or industry. It will also tell you what their initial impressions are without the insight of working for you (yet). It's unlikely they'll be prepared for this, so it can also show you how quickly they work on the fly.
3 tips to improve your social recruiting strategy
Now that you have your social media manager interview questions in order, it's worth considering the best places to source your candidates.
Social media has transformed recruitment over the last few years. In fact, 79% of job applicants now use social media in their job search. So how can you improve your strategy for hiring candidates over social media?
1. Take advantage of key features on social networks
Each social media platform offers different benefits, but key networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have plenty of features that make them the perfect place to begin your search for a new social media manager.
One of these features is hashtags. When posting job openings, you can use hashtags within the post copy to make posts more searchable and broaden their reach.
In the search for a social media manager, you can use hashtags effectively on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Examples could include #SocialMediaManager, #Recruitment or #Vacancy.
Being active in Facebook and LinkedIn groups is also a smart way to find candidates for a job role. Social media is heading in a more community-minded direction and groups provide a ready-made, like-minded audience that understands the niche you are trying to appeal to.
When searching for a social media manager, join as many groups related to the social media field as you can to scope out the landscape before posting your vacancy to members:
Start by joining our Facebook group: Social Media Storytellers
2. Promote your company culture on social media
Social media channels act as a window to a business. That means in order to attract the best candidates for your social media manager role, you should be showing off the best aspects of your business on social.
Give candidates an insight into what it's like to work for your business by showing some authenticity, for example, by featuring the faces of your employees alongside your company values:
Remember that a businesses' social media profiles are often the first place a candidate will go to scope out a company - particularly for a social media management role, so make your offering as attractive as possible to potential hires.
3. Encourage employee advocacy on social media
A company's employees are its most important asset. This is because they are a trusted, unbiased source of information, which you can use to leverage your social recruiting strategy.
Content that is shared by employees receives eight times more engagement than content shared by brand channels, so encouraging your employees to share job post openings on their personal social media accounts, as well as endorse their work achievements is a great idea to raise brand awareness.
By tagging your business on social, candidates will be able to see a community of positivity and support - and who better to hear it from than the people who already work there!
Learn how to set up your own employee advocacy programme with our ten-step guide.
Social media managers should be highly skilled, and these 25 social media marketing questions are designed to bring the best out of your potential new hire. Remember to utilise social media when searching for your perfect candidate - happy hiring!