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6 questions to ask applicants vying to run your B2B firm’s social media program

Last updated on December 3rd, 2015 at 02:50 pm

As B2B companies dive further into social media, they’re discovering that like with most jobs, there’s a big difference between having the right skills and being the right person for the job. “(It) seems like a lot of people (are) masquerading as social media gurus and experts,” Deborah Weinstein, president of Toronto-based PR firm Strategic Objectives recently said to B2BNN.

Many applicants have the technical skills to work on a business social media account or campaign, yet aren’t able to tie their work back to their employer’s bottom line. They’re able to “drive engagement” to a B2B social media account, but can’t explain how it affects any business-related metric. They’re just not used to working in a goal-oriented, metrics-driven way with their social media marketing.

Which isn’t entirely their fault; many B2B companies haven’t devised the right way to measure the ROI of their social media efforts, so they don’t know how to hire someone who can help them drive real business results.

Let’s take a look at six questions they can ask their next social media manager candidate to ensure they’re better prepared to handle a results-driven marketing environment at any B2B business.

1. What’s your favourite social media metric, and why?

This question moves the conversation beyond the mysterious “driving engagement” and can help HR staff see if the candidate is familiar with metrics and analytics. Effective social media managers should be analytical and can evaluate metrics to draw actionable information from them. That means looking beyond engagement and delving into reach, sharing, lead generation, conversions, and more.

Answers to look for:

  • Anything that ties their favourite metric to an overall business goal. Bonus points if they can give a concrete example.
  • An example that they understand the relationship between metrics, social media, and business goals. Bonus points if they give an example citing your B2B business.

2. What tools or resources do you use to keep up a steady flow of great content to curate?

Curation is a cornerstone of social media marketing and also one of the most time-consuming tasks for it. Good social media managers are always reading and exploring content online, so they know where to find amazing content that interests their followers, and are able to take advantage of any time-sensitive stories.

Answers to look for:

  • A concrete explanation of their social media toolkit and how they keep up with everything. For example, they use Feedly or Bundlepost to keep track of RSS feeds from their favourite sites and blogs, or that they subscribe to email newsletters to stay on top of things as they prefer to search through inbox for content ideas.
  • Examples from real-world events they attended in the past and how they found out about it. Bonus points if they can explain how they translate this knowledge into great content they’ve curated and/or shared online.
A visual of the major social media platforms
A visual of the major social media platforms

3. Do you have processes to help you stay on top of all your social media tasks?

There are many factors that go into crafting the perfect social media post, and that’s just the writing portion of the show. An effective social media marketer documents their processes for everything (curation, ideation, creation, publication, ideation, etc.), so they know exactly what to do and how they’ll do it. Every action should be useful and repeatable.

Answers to look for:

  • An explanation of the processes they’ve used in the past in other jobs. This shows they’re familiar with the idea of processes and working within their framework. Bonus points if it’s a social media marketing process explanation or example.
  • Any examples of their experience with creating and/or documenting processes, either in a marketing or non-marketing setting.

4. How do you determine the optimal amount of brand messages you send out in any given campaign?

A personal social media account can be all about you and your life, however a corporate one can’t. Send out too many self-promoting messages and audiences tunes out pretty quickly. So ask the candidate how they find the right balance between self-promotion and engaging and relevant content on a corporate social media account.

Answers to look for:

  • A good understanding of the difference between self-promoting and useful messages on social media, and how that affects an audience. Bonus points if they cite any A/B testing they did in the past to find the right ratio for their previous employers.
  • Descriptions of tools and analytics they use to develop their numbers.

5. Do you think including images in social media messages is important?

This may seem like a softball question, but if they’re up on their social media marketing tactics, they’ll know that it’s very important. A quick online search of the topic yields at least one study per year in the last five years that outline about how important photo-heavy posts can be.

For example, tweets with images received 18% more clicks, 89% more favourites, and 150% more retweets than ones without. And almost 40% of all B2B buyers share infographics on social media.

Answers to look for:

  • Any variation on “Yes, it is important.” Bonus points if they’re able to identify sources of good images and/or tools that help them create sharable visual content, like Pablo or Canva. You can also ask a follow-up on what other types of posts perform well on various platforms

6. Explain how you build relationships between an audience and a brand.

Most strong social media managers understand how social media is all about relationships; the
“social” part of social media is the most integral part of the equation, especially for business. These relationships are a key segment of growing a business, and they can include customers, employees, prospects, competitors, investors, and more.

Experienced social media managers are intentional in their social listening and engagement, and are focused more on networking than making a sale. They focus on giving, rather than making a sale off their audience.

Answers to look for:

  • Examples of situations where they helped an audience member answer a question or solve a problem. Bonus points if it resulted in a sale or increase in business KPIs.
  • Outwardly-focused answers about their work and how business should “do” social media.
  • Answers that show they play well with colleagues and other employees of their employers.

Find better social media managers for your B2B business

To become more effective at social media, B2B hiring managers need to take a closer look at who they hire as their social media managers. Gone are the days where simply knowing how to set up a good Twitter profile was good enough. Now managers have to handle multiple social media channels, tools to publish to them all, ways to find good content to curate, and tie all of their work to measurable metrics that help grow their employer’s business.

Hiring managers need to become just as sophisticated when it comes to interviewing candidates too. These six questions will help you dive deeper into your candidate’s experience and modus operandi so you can find just the right gem for your B2B business. For help on creating your next social media manager job description and ad, check out this download from HubSpot.

Also read our advice on what to look for when you hire a social media manager


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Julia Borgini
Julia Borgini
Julia Borgini is a technology writer, copywriter and consultant for B2B technology companies. She helps them connect with people and grow their business with helpful content and copy. Visit her website to see who she’s helping today: