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8 Tips to Help You Hire the Perfect Social Media and Digital Marketing Manager

The secret to hiring an incredible social media or digital marketing manager is to have a keen understanding of the problem that you aim to solve. This guide will show you what to look for during this process.

Social media marketing is quickly becoming a necessity for most companies, and a lot of them do attest to the fact that this is a gap in their organization that needs filling. 

The solution, while deceptive with its appeal of simplicity, is anything but. There are lots of moving pieces when it comes to implementing a sustainable digital marketing strategy, and a huge part of it is recruiting the right people to help you on this journey.

Below is a list of vital considerations when hiring a social media or digital marketing manager:

1. Be specific about what you want – but also be realistic

Digital marketing can be broadly broken down into 3 core disciplines: Creative, Copy, and Analytics. 

Creative – everything to do with visual communications: photos, videos, banner ads, posters, animations, etc.

Copy(writing) – using the written word to drive intended behavior

Analytics – crunching numerical data to make decisions and unearth actionable insights. This is crucial in understanding user behavior and advertising (media buying).

Most people in the marketing realm can handle one of these disciplines reasonably well. While it is very difficult to find somebody who can do two exceptionally well, they do exist, but they aren’t cheap.

It is close to impossible to find a gifted graphics designer who is also an exceptional copywriter, as well as a wizard with numbers.

Yet too many job listings for individual social media managers tend to look like this:

The responsibility of this job goes beyond social media marketing. You’ve honestly got better chances of receiving an admission letter from Hogwarts than finding such a candidate. The requirements of this listing can’t be reasonably fulfilled by one person – these are the skills honed by an entire marketing department, and pretending otherwise can only lead to frustrations.

Whatever marketing role you’re recruiting for, keep the requirements relevant to only that job. If you find the requirements exceeding what one person can reasonably do, recognize that you may need to hire multiple people or hire an agency to take care of all your marketing needs.

2. Check their past work

How do you judge whether or not a marketer can deliver on their promises? 

Most will present some form of portfolio or capabilities deck showcasing their work. Take the time to go through this material, especially the parts on the function for which you’re recruiting. Look out for descriptions of their involvement in those projects, and the wins that they got their client.

Besides what the marketers say about themselves, responses from credible third parties do help in making your decision on who to hire. Client reviews on platforms such as Google Maps, Clutch, or freelancer sites like Fiverr and Upwork are a good way of gauging the marketer’s skill as well as their reputation

3. Consider your costs: how much are you willing to spend, and what are you getting in return?

Here are a few things to always keep in mind when considering what you’ll be spending on your digital marketing: 

  • There is no such thing as free marketing. Low-cost – yes – but not free.
  • Good marketers aren’t cheap
  • Cheap marketers get you cheap results

As a business, a cost/value balance has to be met for a marketing engagement to make financial sense. Beyond the direct costs that you’ll incur in your marketing activities, a significant chunk of them will be spent on renumerating your marketers. 

How can you get a good deal that is fair for your marketers, gets you the results that you want, and doesn’t require you to break the bank?

The best approach we’ve found is to use a fixed-plus-variable pricing model when negotiating with clients.

In such a model, the client pays a retainer along with a variable commission that is pegged to achieve performance. Like with salespeople, such a model incentivizes the marketer to work hard on the things that get them paid. 

The one thing that you need to be careful with is to ensure that the targets you set for them are tied to the strategic objectives of the organization/campaign (part of the reason why it’s crucial to hold a brand immersion meeting.) This way, you’re not paying for activities that don’t drive business results. 

At the same time, a performance-based remuneration structure gives you a solid basis for analyzing the performance of the agency and how much closer you are to achieving your goals. 

4. Get clarity on the problem – hold a brand immersion meeting

Marketers are like doctors to a certain extent; you bring them in to solve problems. But they can’t solve your issues unless they understand them.

As the name suggests, the purpose of a brand immersion meeting is to get a deep understanding of the client: the brand, who their customers are, their current models/systems of working, challenges that they’re facing, how they measure success, as well as the client’s expectations.

A brand immersion meeting is crucial to identify the problems that you are facing – oftentimes, these cascades beyond what you think are your only challenges. Any marketer worth their salt can identify the problems you’re facing and create customized solutions for you.

Most crucially, the brand immersion meeting will give you a basis for setting clear objectives and measuring the impact of your marketing efforts.

5. Identify your key objectives, then set clear, high-level targets to achieve them

You want your marketer working on the most important aspects of your business. 

Set targets that align with your profitability or your most desired result.

Having a good idea of where you want to go is important to gauge your progress. The quickest way to get lost is to not know where you’re heading.

Do not kick off an engagement with a marketer before you’re on the same page regarding what you are pursuing and the key objectives.

There’s a reason why we insist on having a brand immersion meeting before taking on any new account. While a lot of businesses do approach us to, say manage their social media pages, we help them realize that it is not one particular service they need, but an entire solution made to solve their most pertinent problems.

With a bit of prying, we understand that the sole reason why they think they need social media marketing services is that they’ve seen their competition doing so, or read articles about why every business needs social media marketing. Digging deeper, we can then understand the problem that they’re trying to solve – a shortage of leads for their salespeople to chase.

We are then able to create a customized solution that works – tapping into email marketing, social media, inbound SEO, and paid media to create a comprehensive lead generation system.

From there, we are then able to set targets that are tied to the objectives of this system. Some key metrics for such a client to track are: lead magnet downloads, advertising conversion rates, email engagement & conversion rates, and web traffic growth.

When setting your goals, take great care to avoid placing undue importance on vanity metrics. These are figures that look good and make you feel like you’re making progress but do not correlate with your bottom line.

The focus of this brand’s marketing activities is too scattered:

6. Establish clear responsibilities for both manager and client

When setting goals, you want to give priority to those that provide the most value for your organization. As such, the key responsibilities of your marketer should be aligned with these goals. 

Do you want to sell more through your website? Your marketer should be responsible for increasing web traffic (through paid media, SEO, inbound marketing, and social media) and conversion rate optimization.

Need more clients walking through your doors? Your marketer should be primarily charged with lead generation.

You should also recognize that your marketer’s ability to perform their duties is often dependent on you fulfilling certain obligations. It is therefore important to set about a clear model of working that will guide your business relationship in such a way that everyone carries their weight.

Some responsibilities that may fall in your lap in a typical marketing engagement include:

  • Availing personnel for content creation
  • Participating in brainstorming sessions
  • Giving timely feedback on Creative and Copy drafts that the marker presents
  • Financing activities such as advertising and content creation by third parties
  • Procuring software 

7. Manage your expectations – be patient

Marketers are not miracle workers. Sure, they are humans with skills that can propel your business forward by leaps and bounds, but that is often the result of the systematic deployment of a solution. 

Too many people think of digital/social media marketing as an instant fix to all their marketing problems. The reality is that a lot of marketing solutions take time to yield dividends. SEO, social media, and email marketing typically take months to start driving business results.

It’s going to take time, your involvement, and money to get you the results that you want. Unless you have a large advertising budget, you’ll need to be quick with your execution, but patient with the results.

This is why you must create a system that defines your key objectives and puts in place a way to track your progress from the get-go.

Above all, optimize for growth.  Overnight successes are extremely rare, but if you do slightly better each day than you did the last, slowly but surely, you’ll reach your intended destination.

8. Honor your agreements

Any serious digital marketer will always commence an engagement by putting a contract in place.

Few things are as disheartening as working with a client who does not respect your work.

The golden rule applies when hiring a digital marketer and throughout your engagement: treat them with the same respect as you would have them treat your business.

Respect their time.

Pay them on time and in full.

Execute your responsibilities under the digital marketing contract diligently.

Seek to resolve any disagreements in the course of the relationship amicably.

Like all successful long-term relationships, respect and understanding will grease the wheels of your marketing engagement.

Remember, exceptional social media and digital marketers are extremely hard to come by. In a market like Kenya and the wider Eastern Africa, they are even rarer than globally because the learning curve for marketing skills is quite steep. Don’t be so quick to burn bridges.

By following the guidelines detailed above, you should find the process of hiring a social media or digital marketing manager to be a lot more straightforward. If you have a keen understanding of the problem that you aim to solve, it will make the entire process much less daunting.