As the role of Social Media Manager becomes more mainstream, so too does the need to hire temporary cover for periods when your business is without its regular Social Media Manager. Whether it's due to serious illness, maternity leave, secondment or some other factor, preparing for periods when you'll be without your Social Media Manager is increasingly important.
From my vantage point in the social media industry, I would suggest there are two distinct routes you could take when the need for temporary cover arises in your business. The key thing is to appreciate that this is a strategic decision - and so needs to be planned for accordingly. You need to determine in advance whether:
Let's look at each of these in turn.
So let's say you're in the camp where your social media is already pulling in great results. You're generating lots of client leads, or online sales, or candidate applications, or demo requests. The biggest issue with bringing in temporary cover is that you don't want any significant drop-off in these results during the interim period before your Social Media Manager returns.
In this scenario, your hiring criteria will be based on a candidate's ability to work with the tools your business already uses (or bring to the table comparable tools that will allow them to ensure continuity of activity) and how well they can align themselves with the business's social media tone and persona. Experience in your industry - driving similar types of results from the same set of social media sites your business relies upon - will be another key factor in ensuring a successful transition.
In an ideal scenario, have your outgoing Social Media Manager hire their temporary replacement. Have candidates submit a selection of social media updates or campaign suggestions that they feel would closely mirror what's been working for the business to date. Then have your existing Social Media Manager assess these - their gut feel for whether these are updates or campaigns they would be happy to go out on the company's social media accounts will be very telling in terms of the closeness of the fit that's being achieved.
If circumstances mean you can't involve your existing Social Media Manager, still go down the same route of having candidates demonstrate the types of updates and campaigns they would want to run on your account. Real life examples are often far more telling than hypothetical discussions about past experience and how that can be applied to the job in hand.
That, of course, is only half the story. For every business out there that's delighted with the results they're getting from social media, there are at least as many (and probably several times more!) who are disappointed with the tangible business results that social media is generating. At the very least, you're maybe anxious that you're falling short in the results you could potentially be seeing.
In this scenario, a candidate's ability to mirror what you've previously been doing is far less important than being able to bring broad social media experience (ideally in your sector) to your team. Figuring out how to generate results from a social media site takes time and it takes testing (often with budget to support that testing). If you have a limited time window to try new approaches, you can't afford to lose time while your new hire figures out how to get results. You need to hit the ground running, so that the period of temporary cover provides a meaningful time window in which to see how the new approaches compare to the old.
This might mean hiring someone who is an ex-agency staff member, who's had exposure to a broad range of social media challenges and industries. Or it might mean hiring a freelancer who's worked in your industry before or is renowned for their breadth of experience.
The point is that if you're going to experiment with retargetting ads on social media, or with having a presence on Instagram, or with influencer marketing, you need to hire someone who brings this expertise to your business (rather than someone who's going to learn these skills on the job).
Hopefully the above gives you a clear direction to head in when it comes to hiring the right temporary cover for your Social Media Manager. Cost, of course, is a factor and may restrict the scope of the hire you can make. One way of addressing this would be to engage the Social-Hire team to tackle this period of temporary cover for you. Or you could join our briefing on hiring a social media manager for some additional insights of things to look out for.
If you have experiences yourself of hiring temporary cover for your social media manager, we'd of course be delighted to hear about them. Please feel free to share thoughts in the comments section below.