help wanted sign how to hire a social media professional

Hi, I’m Kerry👋🏽 In case we haven’t met before, I’m not an influencer. I’m a social media consultant that specializes in strategy, training, and tech support.

kerry rego bad influencer tshirt hire a social media professionalWhen I introduce myself in a professional setting, the assumption is that I’m an influencer, or front-of-camera talent, because that’s the only role many people know about in the digital marketing space. I understand why people think that but I’m here to tell you there’s a lot more to the story.

In case you’re an aspiring pro or are looking to hire someone with these skills, I’ve got some useful information for you. I teach social media classes at several colleges where I include a whole lecture on “the biz” and the many roles my students can pursue with these skills. We don’t all do the same things and understanding how to hire a social media professional is important!

The Titles Are Wacky

Job titles for social media and digital marketing pros are all over the map. Giving these open positions names like guru, ninja, unicorn, or wizard can have implications that these people aren’t skilled professionals but endowed with mystical qualities. While yes, we ARE magical thank you very much, it can be problematic when it comes to using databases such as LinkedIn or Indeed to help us sort for these words. An extraordinary or cheeky title also skews expectations around what realistic work responsibilities look like in this type of job.

woman blowing glitter in air hire a social media professional

While looking at social media marketing jobs on LinkedIn, I’ve noticed the titles don’t always align with the desired experience. I’m a director/executive level with 16 years in the industry yet that title can be found for jobs that are closer to entry level. See below for titling clarity.


Speaking of realistic expectations, most hiring managers are unfamiliar with the variations of expertise in this industry. They don’t have an understanding of the amount of time that’s required to produce high level work, nor how many skills one human can be expected to have. Many job descriptions are looking for a Swiss army knife of competence, with expert level years of history, at the pay scale of a barista. Some organizations don’t have a budget at all and are looking for volunteers. Let me tell you, you get what you pay for.

I used to be a technical recruiter and learned then that job descriptions are actually wish lists. Remember that when you ask for all the skills in one body. Run your description by someone in the field and ask for their opinion. More than a dozen times I’ve had to point out that the request is unrealistic, actually two or more jobs, or that the pay doesn’t match your desires. And don’t be surprised that these people are hard to find. Most schools don’t have formalized training programs to develop these pros.

The tools and tactics in digital and social media marketing change daily so be prepared to support any hire in their ongoing professional development. This isn’t a wish but a must have in order for your strategy and content to be effective in the long run.

cluttered desk hands working hire a social media professionalYour Needs

When a client is looking to hire, I ask to see the job description. Any time you need to find talent, this is your first step. You must be clear on what your organization is looking for in order to fill the role. No one is looking to work for you until you get at least some of this down on paper.

Not sure yet? Draft a starting list then head over to a job site to compare your draft to the positions that are already posted. Think of current listings as cheat sheets for presenting the opportunity in a desirable way. If you can, look to see how many people have applied. This tells you that it’s a job people are interested in and the description is working.

I know this is all new to you, that’s understandable, but your 16 year old niece or neighbor shouldn’t be entrusted with your brand just because you are overwhelmed. Like any other career or professional role, approach this with your big kid pants on and treat the search seriously. The demand for these skills is high and you need to make sure you’re a competitive employer.

laughing women hire a social media professionalTitles & Roles to Know

These are some of the most common titles I see. They will include social media or digital marketing in combination with the following words: manager, specialist, coordinator, communications, strategist, content manager, marketer.

Some role differentiation for you:

  • Manager – posts and schedules content
  • Content Creator – multimedia (podcasts, video, photography) and writing (blogs)
  • Community Manager – comment moderation of active brand communities
  • Influencer – paid model and/or spokesperson for a brand or cause
  • Brand Ambassador – unpaid cheerleader, gets rewarded with coupon-like benefits
  • Advertiser – places and monitors social ads and conversion
  • Data Analyst – collects and interprets data, creates reports
  • Public Relations – manages brand voice across multiple platforms of media (press releases, tv, radio, digital)
  • Crisis Management – emergency communications response team
  • Educator/Trainer – corporate training or more traditional teacher
  • Strategist – clarifies objectives and builds overarching action plan

man smiling at phone hire a social media professionalTypes of Work

Not all of these people are employees. There are many ways you can fill your needs. Think internal employee or outsourced service provider.

  • Full-time employee – hourly or salary
  • Part-time employee – hourly
  • Outsourced digital firm – will require a contract, can handle many of the roles listed above, and require a large budget
  • Independent contractor – higher hourly rate than an employee because they have their own overhead to cover
  • Intern – rarely paid, under qualified and overburdened with responsibilities beyond their abilities, red flag for candidates

The Fallacy of the Intern

No, there aren’t enough social media interns to go around. And no, I don’t have a “person” I can hook you up with (I get asked this one weekly). Very few schools teach this subject matter thoroughly so the trained employee pool isn’t as deep as you’d expect and it’s the highest requested internship at the school where I work. Interns usually move on in 3-6 months and half that time they’ll be training on your organization’s needs. They really aren’t the answer to your problem.

When you or your organization offer internships, please be aware that they need to be set up to be legally compliant! The most important detail is that an internship must be primarily beneficial to the intern, not the employer. Take a look at a Primary Beneficiary Test that helps you determine if your internship is on the up and up according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). If what you’re looking for is free labor then it’s not an internship. They should be learning on the job comparable to what a school would provide and it should be tied to their current educational program.

Still want an intern? Reach out to your local college and ask their career department about how to begin the employer intern relationship. You will need a job description before you even reach out to them. My local schools are Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa Junior College and these links are where I’ll send you if you ask me.

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Need Help?

Everything here is going to be useful as an employer looking to hire a social media professional. If you’re the pro, this information will help you understand the hiring landscape. The industry is really new so I’m always happy to share mentoring guidance. I love my job! I hope this helps you bag the job you want or find the right person to fit your needs.

Go ahead and schedule a free call with me if you need help training the right hire. In this industry, the learning never stops!

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