David Armano recently contributed an interesting piece to Harvard Business Review’s blog, “The Conversation” on “Six Ways to Find Social Media Talent.” He shares some good practical advice including empowering employee networks to expand recruiting efforts and grooming internal candidates – all helpful tips.
But while literally finding talent in a digital haystack poses its own set of challenges (and advantages), it’s knowing what type of person you’re looking for in the first place that’s the critical piece of this selection process. Armano refers to a spectrum with deep social media expertise at one end, practical professional experience on the other and a sweet spot somewhere in between. Let’s dig into that.
If you’re looking for someone to lead social media internally or an agency to help, you want to focus on critical thinking skills first. Actually, make that first, second and third. Look for a logical thought process that takes into account your specific goals (the business kind, not just social media), target audiences, where they spend time, the types of interaction they welcome and how your brand fits into that picture. They should examine your organization’s ability to realistically execute, the relevant balance of broadcasting vs. interaction that’s right for the task at hand and how to define success.
Making a compelling case to executives and business functions that don’t care about social media (or think they don’t need to) matters as well; the ability to intelligently defuse skepticism and speak someone else’s language is critical there. And a little gravitas wouldn’t hurt. Little to none of this pertains to tools.
I could go on but the point is there’s a lot to consider when trying to zero in on the right kind of talent. There’s at least as much snake oil as legitimate talent out there as Stephen Baker rightly points out in BusinessWeek. Big followings on Twitter and prolific blogging don’t necessarily translate to an understanding of your business and how social media applies to you specifically. Maybe it doesn’t at all – he or she should be honest about that too.
Whether or not all of this points you to a specific spot on some linear spectrum of talent, I don’t know. But either way, when evaluating a candidate do yourself a favor and peel back the layers with some thoughtful questions – your company’s time and resources will be better off for it.