Finding and Hiring Your Perfect Social Media Manager

A Strategic Guide to In-house, Outsourcing, and Freelance Social Media Management Solutions

how to hire a social media manager

Today a strong social media presence is crucial for staying competitive and growing your brand. That said, managing your company’s social media channels can be a challenging, time-consuming task. One solution is to hire a Social Media Manager. This guide will walk you through the process of hiring a social media manager, but we will also discuss other alternatives, including outsourcing to a trusted social media management service like Social Marketer, or hiring a freelancer.

Understand What a Social Media Manager Does

A social media manager’s role varies from business to business. Generally, they’re responsible for creating and scheduling posts, responding to comments, managing company branding, implementing marketing campaigns, and analyzing metrics for optimization.

Consider the following example: if you’re a fashion retail business, a social media manager might begin their day by checking on the performance of yesterday’s posts – engagement rates, shares, comments, etc. They’d then strategize on what content to post based on their observations, perhaps focusing on products that have garnered more interest. Throughout the day, they’d interact with followers, answer queries, and manage any negative feedback professionally.

Not all businesses require the same social media services. For example, a law firm might need their manager to focus more on reputation management and less on customer interaction. It’s essential to understand the specific needs of your business and align these with your prospective manager’s skills.

Resources like Social Media Examiner offer a plethora of articles on the subject, while platforms like Coursera and Udemy provide courses to better understand the role.

Identifying Your Business Needs

The first step to hiring a social media manager is understanding what your business requires. Are you looking for someone to increase brand awareness, or do you need someone to drive traffic to your website?

For instance, if your online clothing store needs to increase its customer base, you might focus on a candidate with a track record in successful influencer collaborations and a knack for creating shareable content. On the other hand, if your goal is to boost website traffic, you’d benefit from a candidate with skills in search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing.

HubSpot’s ‘How to Create a Great Social Media Strategy Plan in 2023‘ can help you identify your business’s social media needs.

Creating a Detailed Job Description

A well-defined job description is crucial in attracting the right candidates. It’s essential to list the roles and responsibilities, preferred qualifications, and any specific skills necessary for the role.

Consider a food delivery app looking for a social media manager. Their job description might list responsibilities like creating food-related content, collaborating with restaurants for promotional activities, and monitoring and reporting on customer reviews and feedback. The job description may also specify a preference for candidates with previous experience in food and beverage marketing and proficiency in using social media management tools like Hootsuite or Buffer.

For more guidance, check out Workable’s extensive library of job description templates.

Search for Candidates

Searching for the right candidate can be time-consuming. Utilize job listing websites such as LinkedIn, Indeed, or Glassdoor. Additionally, look within your networks and ask for referrals.

For example, if you’re a tech startup looking for a social media manager with tech experience, you might start by posting the job on LinkedIn, focusing on tech communities. You could also reach out to your connections in the tech industry for recommendations.

Remember to research your candidates online. Check out their LinkedIn profiles, their social media accounts, and any other online presence to get an idea of their skills and experiences.

Interviewing Potential Candidates

Interviewing candidates isn’t just about verifying their skills, but also about understanding their creative process, problem-solving abilities, and whether they’re a cultural fit for your organization.

You could ask questions such as, “Describe a time when a social media campaign didn’t go as planned. How did you handle it?” or “How would you handle negative comments or reviews on our social media platforms?” Their answers can provide insight into their problem-solving skills and their ability to handle challenging situations.

Moreover, you could ask them to share their favorite social media campaigns and why they admire them. This can give you insight into their creative process and preferences. Use resources like Glassdoor’s Top Social Media Manager Interview Questions to guide your interview process.

Test Their Skills With a Paid Task

An effective way to evaluate candidates is by assigning a paid task. This could range from drafting a social media content plan to creating a sample post or analyzing social media data.

Suppose you run an online bookstore. You might ask candidates to create a week-long social media campaign promoting a new fantasy book release, complete with sample posts, graphics, and an engagement strategy. This will allow you to evaluate their creativity, planning skills, and understanding of your business.

For task inspiration, resources like Jumper Media’s Social Media Tasks for Interns can be repurposed to fit your needs.

Check References

Talking to your candidate’s former employers or colleagues can provide invaluable insights into their reliability, work ethic, teamwork, and skills.

For example, if a candidate has previously managed a beauty brand’s social media, speaking to their former employer can give you insights into the candidate’s role in increasing the brand’s social media presence, how they handled challenges, and their overall contribution to the brand.

For best practices on how to check references, consider Apollo Technical’s Best Questions to Ask for Reference Checks.

Understand Their Knowledge of Social Media Trends

The social media landscape is ever-evolving, and a good social media manager needs to stay on top of the latest trends. During the interview process, ask candidates about recent social media trends they’ve noticed and how they’ve incorporated them into their strategies.

For instance, if they discuss the rise of short-video content like TikTok or Instagram Reels, and share examples of how they’ve utilized these platforms effectively, it’s a good sign that they’re up-to-date and adaptive.

Online publications like Social Media Today regularly publish articles on the latest social media trends.

Gauge Their Adaptability

The world of social media is dynamic, and strategies that worked yesterday might not work today. It’s essential for a social media manager to be adaptable, willing to learn, and experiment.

During the interview, you could ask, “Tell me about a time when you had to adjust your social media strategy. What was the situation, and what did you do?” Their response can give you a glimpse of their adaptability.

Identify Their Creativity

Creativity is the lifeblood of social media. Your social media manager should be able to come up with new ideas to engage your audience, present your products/services uniquely, and differentiate your brand from competitors.

A potential task to test their creativity could be asking candidates to create a mock-up of an Instagram story series introducing a new product or service.

Websites like Behance and Dribbble can provide inspiration for creative social media content.

Assess Their Analytical Skills

A good social media manager should be able to analyze social media performance metrics, draw insights, and use this data to improve future performance.

During the interview, you might ask them to explain how they’ve used social media analytics to drive strategy in the past. An example of a potential answer could be how they tracked post engagement rates to determine the best times to post content, leading to improved visibility and interaction.

Check out Sprout Social’s Guide to Social Media Metrics for more on understanding and utilizing social media analytics.

Determine Their Understanding of Your Brand

A social media manager should understand your brand voice and aesthetic, your values, and your target audience. They should be able to emulate your brand effectively across all social media platforms.

As an assessment, you might ask candidates to create a sample post that emulates your brand voice and caters to your target audience. For instance, if your company sells eco-friendly products, the candidate could create a post for Earth Day, discussing your company’s commitment to sustainability and featuring one of your products.

To help with brand understanding, check out ‘Canva’s Guide on How to Define Your Brand Identity.’

Ensuring They Can Work With a Budget

Social media management often involves working with a budget, whether it’s for paid promotions, influencer collaborations, or content creation. Your candidate should be comfortable planning and executing strategies within a given budget.

You might ask them to outline a sample one-month social media campaign with a hypothetical budget, detailing how they would allocate resources.

To understand more about social media budgets, ‘Hootsuite’s Guide to Social Media Advertising Costs‘ is a valuable resource.

Look for Strong Communication Skills

Effective communication is essential for a social media manager, both for interacting with your audience and for collaborating with your team. They need to be able to articulate their ideas clearly and persuasively, respond to feedback constructively, and manage customer inquiries professionally.

You could evaluate their communication skills during the interview, through email correspondence, or by assigning a task that involves writing a response to a hypothetical customer query or complaint.

Check out Mindtools for resources on improving and understanding communication skills.

Consider Their Ability to Manage Time and Deadlines

Social media management often involves juggling multiple tasks and platforms at once, all while staying on top of the latest trends and dealing with any unforeseen issues that arise. Time management and the ability to meet deadlines are therefore crucial skills for your candidate to possess.

Consider asking your candidates how they prioritize their tasks and manage their time during busy periods. Their answers can offer insight into their organizational skills and ability to handle stress.

‘Forbes’ offers a useful piece on ‘Time Management Secrets Anyone Can Use,’ which can be a useful tool for understanding and implementing time management strategies.

Remember the Importance of Hiring for Cultural Fit

While skills and experience are important, it’s also crucial to hire someone who fits well with your company culture. They should share your company’s values, work well with your team, and be able to represent your brand authentically.

During the interview process, consider including questions about the candidate’s work style, their values, and how they handle teamwork and collaboration. This can help you gauge whether they would be a good cultural fit for your organization.

‘Harvard Business Review’ has an insightful article titled ‘How To Hire,’ which delves deeper into the topic.

Hiring the perfect social media manager for your business is no easy task. You want someone who not only knows the ins and outs of different social media platforms but also understands your brand and can engage with your audience effectively.

From understanding what you’re looking for and where to find candidates, to conducting interviews and making the final decision, each step requires careful thought and consideration.

Here’s a quick recap of the ultimate guide to hiring a social media manager:

  1. Understand Your Business Needs: Identifying what you want from a social media manager is the first and most crucial step.
  2. Define the Job Description: Clearly outline what the role involves to attract suitable candidates.
  3. Know Where to Find Candidates: Use different platforms to reach a wide pool of potential hires.
  4. Look for Relevant Experience: Past work in similar roles can indicate how a candidate will perform in your company.
  5. Consider Their Understanding of Your Industry: Industry knowledge can help a social media manager create more targeted and engaging content.
  6. Ensure They Can Analyze Performance: Tracking metrics and using them to refine strategies is a vital part of social media management.
  7. Check Their Knowledge of Social Media Tools: Familiarity with different tools can improve efficiency and effectiveness.
  8. Ask for a Portfolio or Case Studies: Seeing a candidate’s previous work can give you a sense of their style and skills.
  9. Conduct an Effective Interview: Use interviews to assess skills, character, and fit with your company culture.
  10. Set Up a Test Project: A practical assignment can help you see a candidate’s abilities in action.
  11. Ensure Brand Understanding: Your social media manager should understand and be able to represent your brand well.
  12. Ensure They Can Work With a Budget: Budgeting skills are essential for managing campaigns, collaborations, and content creation.
  13. Look for Strong Communication Skills: A social media manager needs to communicate effectively with both your audience and your team.
  14. Consider Their Ability to Manage Time and Deadlines: Good time management is crucial for juggling the various tasks involved in social media management.
  15. Remember the Importance of Hiring for Cultural Fit: Your new hire should fit well with your company’s culture and values.

Understanding the Alternatives: Outsourcing Social Media Management

While this guide focuses primarily on hiring an in-house social media manager, it’s essential to acknowledge there are alternative options, particularly for SMBs with tight budgets. Outsourcing your social media management can be a more cost-effective and efficient solution, providing access to a team of professionals who specialize in this field.

Let’s consider the average annual cost of a full-time in-house social media manager in the US, which hovers around $50,000 to $70,000. Add in benefits and overhead costs, such as office space, equipment, and training, and the price tag continues to climb. For large companies, this investment can be justifiable, but for SMBs, the cost can be challenging to meet.

Outsourcing your social media management can significantly cut these costs, while still delivering high-quality, professional services. Here are a few resources you can use to explore outsourcing options:

  1. Upwork ( A platform that connects businesses with freelancers in a variety of fields, including social media management.
  2. Fiverr ( Similar to Upwork, Fiverr also provides access to freelance social media managers at varying price points.
  3. Freelancer ( This site has a wide range of freelancers specializing in social media, and you can browse through profiles to find the perfect fit.

While these platforms provide access to individual freelancers, services like Social Marketer go a step further by offering a team of experienced professionals, ensuring that your social media management is comprehensive and consistent. They handle your social media accounts, create and post engaging content, interact with your audience, and deliver reports on performance metrics.

“Outsourcing social media management to a service like Social Marketer can provide you with a team of experts at a fraction of the cost of an in-house manager. Ensure your social media is professionally handled without breaking the bank.”

Consider Agencies that Specialize in your Industry:

For businesses operating within a specific niche or industry, it’s worth exploring social media management agencies that specialize in your field. Each industry has unique characteristics, audience behavior, and engagement patterns that only a specialist would understand thoroughly.

For example, a fashion brand might benefit more from an agency specializing in fashion marketing. Such an agency would be well-versed with the latest trends, influential personalities, and the particular dynamics of fashion-based social media. They’d know when velvet is making a comeback or which upcoming fashion week needs to be on your radar.

The same applies to other industries like tech, health and wellness, food and beverage, or finance. An agency specializing in tech, for instance, would have a deep understanding of the tech landscape, key events like the Consumer Electronics Show or Google I/O, and the ability to translate complex tech jargon into engaging social media content.

Resources for finding these specialized agencies include directories like Agency Spotter, Clutch, and G2, which allow you to filter agencies based on industry, location, size, and more.

However, it’s essential to remember that specialization is not the only factor to consider. You also need to evaluate the agency’s overall skills, experience, and culture fit with your business. And if you’re a small to medium-sized business looking for a comprehensive, budget-friendly solution, Social Marketer can be your trusted partner for all industries.

Consider the resources above as starting points in your quest to find the ideal social media management solution for your business. Whether you choose to work with individual freelancers or a dedicated service like Social Marketer, the ultimate goal is to enhance your social media presence and reach your business goals efficiently and effectively.

“Outsourcing social media management can be a game-changer for SMBs. Services like Social Marketer offer a tailored, budget-friendly approach, backed by a team of professionals.”

Addressing Your Concerns: A Comprehensive FAQ 

“As you evaluate different options for managing your social media — hiring an in-house manager, partnering with a large agency, using services from Social Marketer, or hiring freelancers — we know you might have questions. We’ve answered the most common ones below.”

  1. What’s the cost difference between these options?

Hiring an in-house social media manager often means a commitment to a full-time salary plus benefits, office space, and resources for professional development. The average salary for a social media manager in the US ranges from $50,000 to $70,000 annually, excluding benefits and additional costs. Large agencies typically charge more due to their extensive resources and broad capabilities. Outsourcing to a service like Social Marketer offers a more budget-friendly solution. Freelancers on platforms like Upwork or Fiverr can offer the most cost-effective options, but these come with their own set of challenges, such as reliability and quality control.

  1. How well can each option understand my business and its needs?

In-house managers and large agencies can develop a deep understanding of your business due to their constant involvement. Social Marketer also takes significant time in onboarding its clients to ensure they’re aligned with your needs. Freelancers may require more guidance and oversight to understand your business well.

  1. How much control will I have over my social media content and strategy?

With an in-house manager, you maintain maximum control. Agencies provide structured collaboration opportunities, and Social Marketer allows input at every step. Freelancers usually require more direction from you.

  1. Can I scale up my social media activities quickly with these options?

In-house managers may have limits on how much they can handle, whereas large agencies and services like Social Marketer are designed to scale quickly based on your needs. Freelancers may also be able to scale, but this depends on their individual capacity.

  1. How will I measure the effectiveness of my social media activities?

In-house managers and agencies should provide regular, comprehensive reports. Social Marketer offers detailed monthly reports on your social media performance. Freelancers may require more guidance to provide the level of reporting you need.

  1. Can each option handle my specific industry or niche?

In-house managers, large agencies, and Social Marketer should all have the skills and tools to adapt to any industry. Freelancers’ expertise varies widely, and you’ll need to carefully vet their relevant experience.

  1. What if my needs change over time?

An in-house manager may require additional training or resources if your needs evolve. Large agencies and services like Social Marketer are often well-equipped to adapt to changes. Freelancers may also adapt, but it depends on their individual skill sets.

  1. What kind of commitment is required for each option?

Hiring an in-house manager is usually a long-term commitment. Large agencies often require contracts, which can vary in length. Social Marketer operates on a month-to-month basis, providing flexibility. Freelancers generally work per project or on short-term contracts.

  1. Who owns the content created by these options?

For in-house managers and large agencies, you generally own all the content created. Social Marketer ensures clients retain full ownership of the created content. With freelancers, you’ll need to ensure ownership is clearly stated in your contract.

  1. What happens if my in-house social media manager quits, or a freelancer doesn’t complete their contract?

This can create a significant disruption in your social media presence. If an in-house manager leaves, it might take time to hire and train a replacement. A freelancer dropping a contract can cause delays and inconsistencies. Social Marketer, like many large agencies, has a team in place that can seamlessly continue to manage your social media.

  1. How does each option handle multiple social media platforms?

In-house managers can handle multiple platforms, but their capacity might be limited by other responsibilities. Large agencies and Social Marketer have teams capable of managing multiple platforms simultaneously. Freelancers’ ability might depend on their experience and workload.

  1. How is the success of social media campaigns measured?

An in-house manager will likely report directly to you. Large agencies often have detailed reporting systems, and Social Marketer provides comprehensive analytics for your campaigns. Freelancers’ reporting may vary based on their skill level and experience.

  1. How can I be sure the content posted aligns with my brand’s voice and values?

With an in-house social media manager, you’ll have the opportunity to closely monitor and guide the messaging. Social Marketer and large agencies work with you to understand your brand voice and maintain it across your social media platforms. The success with freelancers might vary, as it heavily depends on their understanding and dedication to your brand.

  1. Can I expect consistent posting and engagement with my audience across all options?

Yes, but the consistency and quality can vary. An in-house social media manager should be able to provide consistent posting, but may become overwhelmed if the demands increase. Social Marketer and large agencies ensure regular and consistent engagement due to their larger teams and resources. Freelancers’ consistency will depend on their workload and commitment to your project.

  1. What is the turnaround time for creating and posting content in each scenario?

In-house managers and freelancers may require more time to create and post content due to limited resources or multiple clients. Social Marketer and large agencies have designated teams to ensure quick and timely content creation and posting.

“Deciding on how to manage your social media can be a complex decision. While there are various options available, from in-house to outsourcing to freelancers, it’s critical to evaluate the impact of these choices on your business. Remember, Social Marketer provides a cost-effective and reliable solution for SMBs seeking comprehensive social media management.”

About the Author:
Brent Purves is a social media consultant and the director of Social Marketer, a leading provider of white label social media management services. With over 20 years of experience in the digital marketing industry, Brent has a passion for helping startups and agencies grow and thrive with the help of expert social media management.