Agencies are only as good as their latest win or the results they have achieved for the clients. That relies on finding the best talent and retaining it year in and year out. It’s challenging, particularly given the way social media marketing is constantly evolving and client expectations are becoming ever more demanding.
If you want to find the best social media talent and ensure that you retain it then there are some key elements you need to have in place. To help you recruit and retain the best social media marketing talent, I’ve asked the leaders of three Agencies to share their wisdom and experience. They are: Scott Levy, CEO, Fuel Online; Ben Cook, Marketing Director, JC Social Media Limited; and, Edward Leake, Managing Director, Midas Media.
When talent is needed in your agency, your starting point has to be to gain clarity about the role itself, the skills and experience required and how that will ‘fit’ within your team. The more precise you are the easier it will be to ‘weed out’ any unsuitable candidates and, even better, deter them from applying in the first place.
Your requirements will, of course, be unique. What works for one agency won’t work for another and many factors will come into play – culture, type of work, the sector or industry clients are in. The key is to be crystal clear at the outset about what you want.
For Scott Levy, CEO of Fuel Online, it’s about having solid experience at the level required: “The real issue for us, since we work on high end clients, is finding people who have truly worked on high level, high volume, highly visible accounts before. We simply do not have the time to train from the ground up.”
Without doubt, skills are important. But social media platforms and tools change and, often, it’s the flexibility and adaptability in the talent you hire that will best be able to manage that as well as see, and react to, the opportunities for clients that come up. After all, thinking on your feet has to be one of the core requirements for anyone with social media marketing as part of their remit and that has to be tested.
As Edward Leake, Managing Director of Midas Media says, you need to look beyond the paperwork and test people at interview stage to see just how good they are at thinking on their feet, “Because when you’re in what I consider a people facing role, such as social media, creativity and empathy are important in equal measures. Social media is often fast paced and spontaneity can catch people off guard. Awkward, snap responses to engagement are often worse than prolonged silences.”
The audiences your clients want to attract are diverse and so their social media marketing must reflect that. Bringing in talent with different experiences and perspectives can only enhance what you can offer and how you can serve your clients.
As Scott Levy, Fuel Online, says, a diverse team can richly enhance creativity and its implementation to benefit clients: “Talent is what defines a company. I have always tried to find team members who do not think like me. The value in someone is that they think differently, see things differently, and work differently.”
Hiring the right social media talent is a crucial decision. Get it wrong and it can damage not only your clients but staff morale and productivity in your agency too with staff having to juggle extra workloads.
While you are looking for individual talent you also need to view that person, and the role they will fulfill, in the bigger picture of how your team operates and the larger agency. That can be a challenge and, particularly as your team grows, you need to ensure consistency of approach.
As Ben Cook, Marketing Director of JC Social Media Limited says, it’s essential, therefore, to support your new hires with the right systems and processes that will ensure quality is controlled and maintained: “Hiring staff with at least one or two years’ experience in a social media or PR agency sounds like a great idea, but, in reality, it represents a lot of challenges. These recruits have their own way of doing things and old habits die hard. Even if their social media knowledge is sound, even ‘expert’, ensuring they use the same protocols and processes as everyone else in your own business can be a challenge. This is why using a content management platform that unifies everyone’s approach, and can be accessed by someone for quality control purposes, is crucial if you have a team of social media managers.”
It goes without saying that once you have attracted the right talent you still need to work hard to retain it. And, as Scott Levy, Fuel Online, says, guidance from the top people in an agency is an essential part of that: “…once someone is on our team, their skills elevate rapidly from working with other smart people in-house. I make it a point to constantly coach and guide everyone I can.”
If you can’t help your talent expand on their skills and experience, as well as reward them for their efforts, then you have to expect that they will go elsewhere to get that. When you make the effort to invest in hiring new talent it has to be for the long-term and so a nurturing plan has to be very much part of that. You want your talent to grow as the agency grows and to be excited about the possibilities that lay ahead.
There’s a huge talent pool to choose from but you have to be smart in the way you go about finding and recruiting that talent.
And you have to be brave. In all likelihood you’ll be recruiting people with skills and experience that you don’t have yourself.
Scot Levy, Fuel Online, sums it up nicely: “Seek talent BEFORE you need it, not after. Don’t make the mistake of trying to hire yourself, find value in people for who they are and what their strengths are.”
Finding the right talent isn’t always about the right social media marketing skills and experience. Approach and attitude counts for a lot and the people that bring those key elements make your team stronger in very many other ways. That kind of talent is truly priceless and is what will set your agency apart.
How do you go about recruiting social media talent? Let us know in the comments!