By Kathi Kruse,
Kruse Control Inc.
In the Nov./Dec. Issue of Dealer Magazine, I wrote about 10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Social Media Manager. Since then, I've heard from dealers about how helpful it was, and because of that, I've designed 10 more helpful questions to ask when hiring the best social media manager for your dealership.
For the purposes of hiring the right person, a "social media manager" can also be called a marketing manager, digital marketing manager, social media coordinator, and even a marketing director. Whether you have a marketing team or just one person, the duties and responsibilities to effectively manage social media's complexities are the same.
Social Media Manager Duties and Finding People Who "Want to Work"
Given that the labor market is tight right now, it's even more difficult to hire people who "want to work." I hear this almost daily from clients and associates. One key to getting people to "want to work" is providing an environment where they can thrive and where they want to show up every day.
If a store's culture doesn't support this approach, it's worth looking at remedies that attract more highly skilled and sought-after employees. Here's why:
Fact: Hiring a social media manager is a challenge.
During the hiring process, you'll need to determine who measures up and who doesn't. Many retailers and HR managers don't spend a lot of time on social networks, so it's quite a challenge to determine who the best candidate may be to handle the business' reputation, social presence, and social sales leads.
Add to that the challenge of having a sales team using social media (which I recommend, with clear guardrails), and hiring a social media manager quickly becomes an arduous task.
In an ideal situation where transparency and trust are crucial, integrating employees into social media content can be very fruitful. Your social media manager needs to be able to address this integration with management and devise a process that works for all involved.
Social media is complex, and the hiring manager should keep in mind that not everyone who says they can do social media marketing has actually done it successfully!
Asking the right questions is key.
10 More Questions to Ask When Hiring a Social Media Manager
1. Have you ever collaborated with employees on content
[If so, please describe that experience and its results. If not, can you share your ideas on creating a plan to incorporate employee-generated content?]
In hiring a social media manager, you gain control over your online presence. People (i.e., your customers) expect so much more from auto retailers. They want to see content from you that means something to them, and an agency can rarely achieve meaningful engagement with your customers.
We are entering a time when owning your social media is standard practice.
The magic in social media content comes from employees. Why? Because employees know your customers. They're on the front lines with them every single day, and they speak their language. For example, you can post about a $399 lease special, and no one will engage. Post about an employee's milestone or award, and you'll get everyone to chime in.
What I'm describing here is employee engagement. Each employee has their unique expertise. They often bring great ideas to the content creation table, which is golden for social media. As a result, the content is richer, more well-rounded, and generally met with much higher engagement.
If your candidate has a plan for employee engagement and has experience with it, that is a massive advantage over other candidates.
2. What are your top three social media content ideas for us
This question will provide insight into the candidate's creative process. I've had candidates go off on tangents, which is a sign of a highly creative person, and that's a good thing. However, limiting them to three ideas is best to keep the interview concise.
Their answers to this question will also supply insight into how creative they are and if your "creative philosophies" align.
3. What was one of your most successful campaigns?
Effective social media
campaigns connect with car buyers both on a surface level – through a
follow, comment, or a “like” – and on a deeper level through a relatable post
that gets them feeling a certain way about your store and your products.
Listen for indications of the following in their answers:
4. What tools do you use to manage social media?
This question should help you learn more about the candidate's social media management process. Tools help facilitate a process and can give you an understanding of how their process works. Here are the main areas you'll want to hear about:
5. Have you ever worked in the car business?
It's advantageous to hire someone who knows about the car business because they will likely understand your customers better, which is key to social media success.
Hiring a car business-specific person is not necessarily crucial, but it can help. The one thing you don't want to do is hire a car businessperson without any social media experience. I recommend hiring for social media manager experience, skills, and knowledge over having car business experience because if the candidate is adept at branding, customer relations, and online reputation, they can learn the car business while on board.
A good social media manager without car business experience will or should already know something (through research, not anecdotally) about dealership customers (and yours specifically) when they arrive for the interview.
6. What is your process for handling negative comments,
including negative reviews?
You should have a social media policy that governs how to handle online negativity. If you don't have a social media policy, now would be a good time to make one.
You likely already have a policy for handling unhappy customers, so it's a matter of applying that to online interactions. Key points that you'd like to hear from a candidate would be:
7. How do you stay up to speed on social platform changes,
trends, and innovations?
With so much "information" available today, it's difficult to determine where to go for consistently good advice. Your ideal candidate will have a curated list of podcasts, social media accounts, industry leaders, newsletters, and even forums they rely on to keep them informed.
8. What do you think about our current social media
presence? What would you do to improve it?
This might create an awkward situation for your candidate since they will be cautious not to offend. I encourage you to be open at this juncture to criticism. Why? Because you'll learn about how your candidate thinks, and the answers they provide might be the one thing that puts them ahead of all your other candidates.
9. In what marketing areas would you say you're better than
This is a great question because you learn what they excel at, which can lead you to know where they're not that strong.
The job of a social media manager is difficult because it requires both left-brain (analytical) and right-brain (creative) aptitude. Most people do not possess both (if you find one, hang onto them). Left-brain skills get used in analytics and data. Right-brain skills get used for creativity and social interaction.
When you determine your candidate's skills by asking them what they are better at, it helps you to manage them more effectively.
10. What brought you to social media?
Asking this question will get the candidate to talk more freely. Pay attention to verbal cues, facial expressions, and body language.
Have you ever asked someone how their day was, and they said something like, "It was great!" But then you see their fatigued eyes as they drag their feet to walk past you. We instinctively know that their day was not "great."
An ideal social media manager has authentic enthusiasm for the medium. They have a genuine desire to connect with others and grow your business. Without it, you'll only be able to go so far with your goals.
"Hiring the best is your most important task." - Steve Jobs
Use these 10 questions and the previous 10 questions from my recent article, I wrote about in the last issue to find the best person to represent your dealership online. Car buyers need help finding their way to the best solution, and your social media manager is their guide.
Kathi Kruse is an automotive digital retail advisor, dealership profitability expert, author, speaker, and founder/CEO of Kruse Control Inc. Born in the heart of Los Angeles to a family of “car people,” Kathi’s passion for business spans a 25-year automotive retail career, managing $100 million+ stores in Southern California.