What should companies look for in candidates for social media marketing positions?

Now that we are beginning to feel relief from the economic uncertainty that has been hanging around, I hear a lot about the invention of some new roles inside organizations looking to get into social media. Typically this means, “Hire someone who knows our ‘space’ really well and someone who is an expert in social media.”

Well, the latter is the hard part. In Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, The Outliers, he discusses how long it takes violinists to master their craft. The bottom line was it takes 10,000 hours to become a master violinist. This got me thinking about how it could apply to social media and how long it would take to become a social media expert.

If you practice social media on the job for a few hours a day — let’s say, three hours a day learning more about social media and two hours a day practicing social media times five days a week — that means you could become a social media master in seven and a half years. Throw in the weekends and that drops to five and a half years. But social media hasn’t been around that long. So, since companies can’t hire an expert, here are four macro competencies candidates should have:

First, they should be a gifted storyteller. In social media, you need to tell good stories, stories that people will be attracted to, identify with and want to share.

Next, they need to be able to package the stories up and be able to make them shareable. This means the content can be found in a variety of media.

Then, they need to know how to reach people with their content — in the more forms, the better. This means they must be fluent in many social media sites.

Finally, the hardest part for most people is measuring of the effectiveness of the media and the efficiency of the story being spread. Look for candidates that show measurement prowess.

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