Whether you are a pastor looking for a volunteer to assist with your church’s social media strategy or a nonprofit communications director looking to grow your team, the role of social media manager is integral to helping you and your organization achieve its highest goals, be those related to selling a product or building awareness of a cause.

This should not be considered an entry-level position, as this person will be responsible for creating—and maintaining—both your social and online presence and reputation. When hiring this person, you are entrusting them with the responsibility of being an ambassador for your organization. You and the rest of your team have spent countless hours intentionally cultivating the reputation, vision, and mission for the work you do.

A successful social media manager should have an awareness of the weight this role carries but the opportunities for growth, collaboration, and connection it affords.   

These questions are certainly not exhaustive—for experience and proven success in marketing and media are important to consider—but here are four questions to ask when hiring a social media manager:

1. Can they both cast a vision and execute a plan?

In one sense, the job title of Social Media Manager can be confusing and misleading. You can readily find someone qualified to “manage” your brand, someone who will post things on time and report on brand effectiveness. However, if you want to increase the reach of your message and effectively connect with your audience, you need someone who is a visionary.

But what is even more important than someone who can cast a vision is hiring someone who can not only cast a vision but one who can follow through on that vision. Look for someone who loves the big ideas but also has the administrative capacity to serve as the practitioner.

Being a social media manager is more than just a management job, but not less. It requires focus, drive, and attention to detail. But humor, creativity, and energy are also essential traits of a manager who will be a value-add by pushing the bounds of what your team is capable of communicating and accomplishing.

2. Can they develop processes and systems?

One of the common misconceptions about a social media manager is that this person is merelyresponsible for posting content. Rather, the responsibilities of a social media manager include much more—managing a content calendar (and creating that content), scheduling posts, reviewing analytics, engaging with an audience, and optimizing company resources to develop a sustainable strategy for brand marketing.

If someone is going to manage all these tasks with excellence—many of which are daily tasks—they must be adept at working hard by working smart. This could be as simple as utilizing social media management tools such as Buffer and Sprout Social or more difficult like building a back-end system to automatically score posts based on key social media metrics like engagement and leads.

The more trusted systems that your social media manager is able to implement, the more effective they can be at growing and expanding your brand without getting bogged down by the daily grind of posting tweets and editing copy.

Seth Godin insightfully writes about people’s aversion to process:

In many cases process is underrated. Process is your ace in the hole when your intuition stops working. Process is the system that doubles a plant’s efficiency when you’ve done everything you can think of.

If process makes you nervous, it’s probably because it threatens your reliance on intuition. Get over it. The best processes leverage your intuition and give it room to thrive.

Being good stewards of our time, talent, and resources necessitates thoughtful and strategic processes. Rather than processes stifling creativity, it actually frees you from being so preoccupied with daily tasks—many of which can and should be automated—so that you can focus on innovating, curating, and experimenting.

3. Do they thrive off of planned spontaneity?

Every strategic social strategy should have two dimensions, the planned and the unplanned.

Key traits of someone who can plan for spontaneity is one who is organized and timely but can capture an unexpected moment by quickly and efficiently leveraging your audience. They should be able to “join the conversation” on short notice, be that through the latest trending hashtag or breaking news (as appropriate to your brand).

But even more so, a social media manager must be capable of taking advantage of and adjusting to rapidly changing platforms. Systems or approaches that were used successfully in one month may be downgraded in the next.

Adaptation to changing standards and metrics, in addition to ever-changing news cycles, is essential to managing and growing a successful brand, one that serves its audience well. 

One of the most effective ways of doing this is by planning as much of your content in advance so that when (not if, but when) an unexpected opportunity or crisis arises, your team can react aptly.

Hiring a social media manager who is committed to plans and processes but has the flexibility to easily adapt is a key trait of someone who might make an excellent addition to your team.

4. Can they communicate well with a diverse team and audience?

One of the crucial responsibilities of a social media manager is serving as a liaison between your team and online audience, many of whom you may also regularly interact with face-to-face (if you are a church, for instance). 

Being a good relationship builder is a cornerstone of a great social media manager. While they are building relationships with others on your team, they are more often building relationships with your customers, be that church members or product consumers.

These relationships are not limited to one type of person on one platform or team. Within your brand, it potentially includes customers, employees, media, potential leads, and even competing brands. And most social media managers will also be in communication with all aspects of your team, from finance and human resources to communications and external relations.

A communications trait that may be harder to initially discern, but that is indispensable for someone who is managing social media, is being able to listen well. A significant aspect of social media is listening, and listening intently, to the needs and desires of your audience. Although it might not be explicit in your vision statement, the purpose of your organization is to serve others in some way.

Your team can better provide value to and serve your customers if your social media manager is monitoring and engaging with those people. Communicating well should include reviewing and responding to comments, creating call-to-action campaigns based on the interests of your audience, and supplying helpful content that equips them to then serve others.

Lauren Rae Konkol

Lauren serves on staff with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission in Washington, DC. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and is now pursuing a Master’s degree at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.