// what do you think?


The Challenges of Social Media Talent Acquisition

There is a huge demand right now, especially on the agency side, for people who:

1) get business strategy
2) get social media and
3) have the experience to back it up

There is a very, very small pool of people who fit all three. And in fact the pool of people who even have the first two is not much larger. This leaves companies in the position to hire for either 1 or 2 and teach the other.

(On this note, social media recruiter, Amybeth Hale told me one of her predictions for 2010 was a Social Media Hiring bubble. I have to agree.)

I  decided to reach out to my network. I asked the question on Twitter and was amazed at the variety in responses. I’ve included the one’s I’ve gathered as of this publishing and the names and bio’s of the responders so you can see that these are some pretty smart and experienced people and they don’t even all agree.

Is it  better to hire someone who gets social media but may not understand business strategy or to hire someone who understands business strategy and teach them social media.

Dave Evans: Social Media enthusiast and author of Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day.

I’d take “Gets social - Teach strategy.” “Getting Social” is a pre-existing mental state; strategy is an acquired skill. In my workshops I don’t “teach” social media. I show what it is and teach how to weave strategically into business. It works.

Brian Harrison: Husband. Father. Occasional Podcaster. Marketing / social media / interactive type.

would you rather teach someone who can sell to use a phone or someone who can use a phone to sell? Strategy is the ‘must know’

GiGi: Digital strategist on the agency side. But I can’t sit here and talk about social media all day. There’s good shoes and food to discuss, too

gets social, teach & discover strategy

Lisa McGrath: lawyer, skier, & runner who thinks sleep, moderation, & U2 are for the birds.

Neither social nor strategy. Find out what they’re passionate about, that’s what they’ll successfully sell.

Mike Saunders: I am a translator of the internet (SEO, Social Media and Strategy). Helping marketers & business people understand the best use of online marketing.

if you understand business strategy then social strategy will be easy to understand and use.

Robert Hallock: Reporter for Icrontic.com. Internet addict. Smartphones. Beer snob. Gearhead. Bodybuilder. HUGE NERD.

It’s hard to teach social, as it’s a reflection of their actual social skills. Some get it, some don’t. Social first, teach biz

Veronica Wei Sopher: Listener. Node. Community Director of @SMCSeattle. Co-founder of @ReadSM. Having fun as @BenBridgeGirl.

At Ben Bridge, we hire sales assoc for their great people skills and attitude, then provide gemology training.

Rhea Allen: Pres/CEO of Peppershock, a hybrid agency. Fresh Marketing Strategy + Creative Production Services.

strategy#1, social #2

Russ Stoddard: Pappa, Poet, Playwright, Partner, Philanthropist (He doesn’t mention it but is also founder of Oliver Russel)

My vote, hands-down: Get someone who understands strategy and teach them social media. The former is a tougher get than latter.

Matt McGinnis: Dell PowerEdge Server Marketing guy, wine lover, cyclist and dad.

Definitely hire for strategy. Much easier to teach tactics.

Jen Houston: Always on, word-struck storyteller, chaser of 4 great kids and one linear husband, passionate life embracer (also the SVP of Waggener Edstrom, Studio D)

i’m hiring for critical thinking, drive and curiosity and if they have those raw materials, we can teach the biz part.

Rachel Kay: Pres. of RKPR, savvy communicatrix, social media dabbler, news junkie, won’t say no to wine, ed. www.communiKaytrix.com, Digital Cocktail ed. @ socalprblog.com

Think that depends on the level u are hiring at. But, strategy is a lot harder to teach than social, which is more tactical imo

Tony Wood: Marketing + Personality. You are what you Tweet.

Depends on the strengths of existing teams. If you have strategy, hire social and ensure they learn from each other.

Honestly I don’t think there’s one right answer. It all depends on what you’re hiring for. I tend to look for curiosity and non-linear thinking because it’s really, really hard to teach those but if they have them you can teach them anything.

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About Tac

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.

  • rachelakay

    Hi Tac,

    Great question - I wanted to expand on my thoughts in a few more than 140 characters. From a PR perspective, I think it's a question of strategy vs. tactics. There are many people who understand how social media works from a logistics perspective - it doesn't make them qualified to provide strategic counsel - and it may never. That's why not everyone makes it to a strategic role. That said, many people can understand, with a little teaching, how to turn a statement into a conversation using some of the new tools available. Many people can learn to monitor, react and respond.

    Great variety of responses - interesting to see how different people interpret the question.

    Rachel Kay

  • Shaden Freude

    If you decide to hire people who “get social” then you better be prepared to deal with a 23 year old who knows nothing about holistic strategy, thinks every tweet is paved with gold, and doesn't believe in getting to the office before 10.

  • http://www.jeremymeyers.com/ Jeremy Meyers

    If they know one and are interested in the other, that's the killer app. Interest is more important than training at this point, since the rules for both are changing so much. You know as well as i do that no matter how many emails you send around or boot camps you do, if someone just doesn't care or thinks it's too hard or not their job, you're not going to get them on board, short of drastic measures.

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com/be-more-you/ Be More You

    [...] The Challenges of Social Media Talent Acquisition (newcommbiz.com) [...]

  • researchgoddess

    How did I miss this!?!? Tac, I'll agree with all those who leaned more toward getting strategy, teaching social. The other way around makes me think you'll get something like this: http://twitpic.com/100ota hehe :)

    On a related note, you mentioned my prediction of the social media hiring bubble this year. It is FAST approaching because there are a lot of posers.

    There are people out there who get neither social NOR strategy but who are getting hired by companies not doing their due diligence of background research. These people are taking/stealing information from others and peddling it as their own knowledge, and for the simple fact that they tweet or blog, they are viewed as 'experts'. This makes me angry because as with all posers they will be found out, and the companies which hired them will then become jaded and will profess that social is a waste of time. It makes me nuts that these bad apples will spoil the entire barrel. I cannot stress enough the importance, if you're doing the hiring, of digging in and investigating the ACTUAL execution of social strategies of someone applying for such a role. If they cannot walk you step-by-step through their projects from start to finish, then they're just regurgitating someone else's work. Most likely they read it in someone else's tweet heh..

  • researchgoddess

    Your name is hilarious, just had to make that observations!

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