At PLANOLY we consider ourselves to be the go-to resource for all things digital marketing — and if we’ve learned anything from developing our suite of tools and services, it’s that PEOPLE are truly at the heart of some of our favorite social media brands and stories. With the new year upon us and with the rise of new platforms and technology teams, it’s safe to say that a social media marketing team looks very different in 2019 than it might have during the early days of the digital revolution. This article will provide a foundational understanding of the roles to consider hiring for as you launch and develop your social media team. Additionally, we’ve also included a few insights from two leading HR experts who share their tips and tricks on what to look for when hiring prospective candidates for digitally-focused roles.
Assessing the Needs of Your Social Media Team
While it’s easy to feel overwhelmed at the many directions you can take when building out the social media marketing department, it’s important to understand that not all teams (and hiring approaches) are uniform. In the case of social media, as you think about these hires it’s important to consider the following elements:
Foundation: Brand Size + Lifespan
Look at the size of your brand and how long it has been in business. What have you been able to accomplish with the number of resources available to you at this point? Do you anticipate a growth path to accommodate more hires? What are the long-term needs? These are just a few questions to consider as you think about how to build your marketing plan, and in turn, the budget needed to get the right people in the door and in what capacity. Which brings us to our next point…
Planning: In-house vs. Outsourcing
One of the most amazing things about social media is that there are so many tools (like PLANOLY!) that enable businesses of all sizes to create content seamlessly. So when looking at your brand’s current social media needs, consider what and how much additional support you’ll need and in what medium — enter in-house vs. outsourced team members. In-house hires typically play a large role in the ongoing framework of your department and have a very involved understanding of bigger-picture goals. In the case of this article, these roles may include leadership positions (such as a CMO) and daily managers (like a Social Media Manager) to execute the high-level strategy seamlessly. Whereas outsourced team members may be utilized on a project-basis or for certain initiatives in which the internal team either does not have the bandwidth or expertise to bring to life. These roles may include individuals who are Creative Directors, Strategists, or Content Producers (which we’ll get into more detail about in the following section).
Resourcing: Creative vs. Strategy
Before we deep dive into a few essential social media marketing roles, one final element to think about is what your social media plan is missing and/or needs improvement on. A detailed plan considers two factors: creative and strategy. Typically, the creative component of a plan includes the copy points and visual presentation of your social media assets. It is the forward-facing content that your customer/ follower-base will connect with and recognize to be synonymous with your brand values, messaging, and other vital touchpoints. At the other end of the spectrum, the strategy should inform the creative with research and data about your customers, insights around how they interact with your brand on social media, their social media habits, and so on. Depending on the brand and industry, there is a case to be made for which of these weighs more heavily on the other, but it is important to consider both aspects equally — and in turn, which team members are best suited to bring each to life.
A Few Primary Roles
With the previously mentioned considerations in mind, now we’ll get into the specifics on select roles that make up the anatomy of a social media team. Don’t forget, these roles and job descriptions may vary depending on your organization and resources.
Social Media Manager or Strategist
As the name suggests, a social media manager is primarily responsible for managing a brand’s social media platforms and can vary from associate to senior-level responsibilities. These tasks include anything from the development and maintenance of seasonal/new launch campaigns to the daily upkeep of conversing with a brand’s followers on the platforms. If they are in a more experienced position, some social media managers can also take the lead in developing the strategies alongside marketing leadership in addition to merely executing them. In some cases, they may also liaise with other functions of the marketing department to ensure necessary growth by helping to develop specific customer sales and acquisition strategies through paid social, digital marketing, and influencer campaigns. These factors all boil down to the available resources and priorities of the hiring company.
Content Producer or Project Manager
High-quality production is quickly becoming the priority for social media content and for campaigns that require many moving parts (i.e., a branded interview series or a photo shoot that involves travel), a lot of brands look to content producers to maintain organization and structure. Depending on how frequently a brand publishes social content, a content producer can be a key player in bringing compelling social assets to life. Typically, these individuals are responsible for working with internal leadership teams and outsourced partners (like freelance creatives or production partners) to identify talent, locations, and other project elements, and ensure consistent communication, deadlines and budgets are being maintained. This role can sometimes be all-encompassing (and mirror a project manager position), so when shaping the description, it is important to be as transparent as possible about the expectations.
Social Media Creative(s)
In a visual-first world, there has been an influx of talented creative professionals who have tapped into the power of social media to create opportunities and personal brands for themselves — and many larger brands are taking notice of this. Enter social media creative(s) who are typically content creators that are experts in their particular field. These roles range from visual artists like photographers, graphic designers or animators to leaders like Creative Directors who are skilled in developing high-level concepts explicitly tailored for social media campaigns. Additional roles on this team can also include copywriters and prop stylists.
Influencer Relations Manager
As the social media landscape continues to grow, many companies have seen a ton of crossover in the roles and communication between PR and marketing — especially with the introduction of influencer marketing. In many cases, social media and influencer marketing go hand-in-hand, so if your brand’s overarching marketing strategy relies heavily on influencers, a position like an Influencer Relations Manager may be worth looking into integrating within your social media team. We’ve touched on influencer marketing quite a bit here on the PLANOLY Blog already, but as a refresher, Influencer Marketing professionals often utilize their brand’s social media platforms as a vehicle to connect and build relationships with exciting tastemakers and individuals within their industry. Influencer marketers also have a rich understanding of the social media landscape and can identify how to use their company’s platforms to disseminate influencer campaigns and content effectively.
Ask an HR Professional
Now that we’ve outlined a few of the key roles that go into a social media marketing team, we wanted to turn to a few HR specialists who shared what they’ve learned about onboarding social media and digital talent.
Stacy Murray, Sr. Director of HR & Talent Acquisitions at alice + olivia
I am a twenty-year plus seasoned retailer with a deep passion for people and their development. My career began in brick and mortar retail management with luxe brands, and after many successes, I was ready for a corporate challenge. Michael Kors offered me the opportunity to take my ability to build strong store teams to a new level as a Regional Recruiter for their Lifestyle, Collection and Outlet divisions. After two and half years I was approached by alice + olivia and couldn’t resist the opportunity to join a brand led by two strong females, Stacey Bendet and Deanna Berkeley, who have not only built a fashion brand but have supported and pushed the envelope on many global community initiatives as well. I am currently the Sr. Director of HR & Talent Acquisition and enjoy the challenges presented to me in sourcing top talent for a growing brand in an industry that is evolving by the moment.
The Biggest Lesson Stacy Has Learned While Hiring for These Roles:
One of the most important learnings I have had in recruiting for roles that fall within the social/digital niche is that the area is truly two-fold. You must find the strategic individual who understands the varying platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), the paid vs. organic, can target campaigns and launches to heighten brand awareness and increase engagement to drive revenue. The strategist will create the roadmap but will need someone to ride shotgun. Hence, you must also find an individual that has the creative savvy to be the strategic person’s partner and interpret the business angle into cool concepts for posts, stories, and overall campaigns to achieve the results. This area has to marry the two sides of creative and business together to be successful.
My tip for anyone recruiting in this space is that you must think outside the box. Social and Digital have been around but have progressed at a rate that there is no expert. You need to find the people whose passions align with your brand, and who want to be part of building the future of retail through this niche.
Amanda Mintz, Founder of AMCM
Industry insider and innate connector, I am the founder and principal of Amanda Mintz Creative Management.
Genuine and grounded, my ability to interpret needs, read people and curate the right relationships comes naturally. I have a sixth sense for talent, having spent years working with fashion brands, design studios, and creatives — and as the Director of Creative Services for renowned recruitment firm Janou Pakter.
My passion for helping others — and inside knowledge of the creative landscape, and its unique characteristics and needs — inspired me to launch Amanda Mintz Creative Management in 2010. I’ve built AMCM from a single client to a million-dollar business serving the who’s who of brands, agencies, start-ups, and talent worldwide, in just seven years all through word of mouth.
I live with my husband Dustin and baby Isabella in Brooklyn, New York. I support the next generation of creative talent as a mentor on the Council of American Fashion Designers of America, and Colgate University’s Thought into Action Entrepreneurship Institute. I’m also a contributor to Forbes and active member within Hey Mama.
This past year I built Milk Makeup’s brand creative team, working with two premier digital agencies and am currently serving as an advisor for two startups, as well as starting new collaborations including curated events.
What Amanda Looks for in Digital Talent and Feedback She’s Received from Brands Hiring for These Positions:
I look for people with hybrid skill sets and cultural fit — those who are not just experienced and good on paper. From brands, right now good talent is competitive, between startups, established brands, and the freelance economy, desirable and sought after talent is a challenge to attract and retain.
Your first hire is extremely important. Invest upfront in Creative and Marketing strategy first alongside creative — don’t skimp and hire a junior designer/marketing hire. Go for a seasoned consultant or freelancer with experience who truly gets the brand, sees the vision, and is clearly aligned. I’ve seen so many young brands do things on the cheap early on, and stick it out when things are clearly not working — in the end, it’s more time and a lot of money, headache and much slower. Hire slowly and fire quickly if things don’t work. First, you need to have the brand voice, vision, language, and identity defined— that’s strategy and creative. Social and content is a secondary (or even third or fourth) hire.