Usage and Experience Doesn’t Equate to Social Expertise

Those who are seeking social media careers need to remember to remember that social media technologies are secondary to meeting business and customer needs.

I’ve been interviewing social media strategists at corporations or their bosses for my upcoming report on social skills needed in brands. I also get emails from hiring managers who are trying to hire folks to develop strategy and manage ongoing social programs at large brands. Lastly, I’ve spoken to social media recruiters who have a very hard time finding qualified candidates. One theme comes across many of these conversations: many candidates are incorrectly positioning themselves.

Here’s three rules that social media candidates must know:

  1. Usage of social media doesn’t equate expertise. Many who want to pursue a career in the white hot social space equate the number of fans, followers, or blog readers as a badge of honor –at times, I do that too. It’s an effective indicator of someone’s ability to use the tools, however it’s not an indicator they were able to use them in a corporate setting to meet customer and business objectives.
  2. Long Term Experience of Social Media doesn’t equate expertise. Many speakers and about pages on blogs like to indicate they were using social technologies for years, to demonstrate they were an early adopter. This can backfire to a hiring manager as the duration doesn’t indicate ability to use these tools in a strategic way. In fact, many of the early, early adopters really aren’t the type that may work well in a corporate environment.
  3. How candidates behave online can make or break the deal. Candidates should recognize that recruiters and hiring managers are looking at how individuals behave online –it factors into the decision on why they may –or may not be contacted. So before you post that blog lambasting another blogger, or somewhat questionable photos in Facebook, or talking about recovering from your hangover on Twitter, remember that hiring managers are analyzing how a candidate will represent their brand.  (Update later in day: I gave the Miami Herald my opinions on this very topic)

Although hiring managers have told me that they do look for ability, experience with social tools, they’re also seeking to find out how candidates have used these tools that align with corporate and customer objectives –not just a fondeling of the latest and greatest tools.  In upcoming posts (and the report itself) I’ll discuss what skills –and positioning is leading to getting hired.   BTW: I’m guilty of breaking rules 1 and 2, and sometimes 3 , so this is a good check to keep all of us focused.

Love to hear from you what else candidates should be considering in their social media positioning.