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Hiring a social media professional and knowing how much they are worth is a bit like buying a new car. Today’s automobiles may or may not be equipped with the latest cutting-edge technology. A basic car with a traditional engine will get you where you need to go, and it will do it safely and consistently. But, it’s not an SUV and it doesn’t have the hybrid technology that conserves fuel. The basic sedan is missing the rearview camera and it doesn’t magically brake when you are waving across the street at your neighbor as their dog runs out in front of you. Oops, sorry Bob.
Stick with me. The digital marketplace is a relatively new industry, so roles and responsibilities do not always have consistent definitions. UX, digital designer, project manager, account manager, and strategist all mean different things depending upon context. These roles might mean something totally different to your company than to mine. Now if you add the social media component into the mix, you raise the confusion bar even higher. Not only do we not have consistent job descriptions, we absolutely don’t have consistent pay scales.
The basic car is like a social media candidate that cut their teeth in the traditional world of PR, journalism, creative writing, and marketing. They know how to write (if you don’t test them, you should), they know how to deliver on time, they understand human motivation and communication very well, and they should have an understanding of basic SEO tools.
The hybrid SUV is someone who not only understands communication, marketing, writing, and deadlines, but they also know the digital tools, SEO, social media nuances, and more. Quite possibly, this candidate broke in their engine on the digital race track and happens to be communication, marketing, and PR savvy.
Do you see where this is going? Both vehicles are effective in their own right. Both vehicles get a certain job done, but they don’t run at the same efficiency, and they probably won’t perform the same tasks as effectively. Now cue Captain Obvious: the SUV costs more.
Now, this is not to say that you should be shopping for an SUV. But you do need to answer a few critical questions before you go shopping so you know what you’re actually looking for. And just like the purchasing process, your budget determines what you can actually get in the end.
- What is most important to us in this role? The craft of writing, or knowledge of the tools? Or both?
- What are the actual deliverable tasks for which this person is responsible?
- At what point in the process does this person jump in? Are they creating and defining strategy or are they focused on the tactics and implementation?
The rubber meets the road when we look at the industry trend and see the digital counterpart, the SUV, does get paid more. They are in higher demand, they have the necessary technical knowledge, and they will probably jump into the role, accelerate, and perform more efficiently. The candidate coming out of the traditional side, the basic sedan, while a wonderful human being, will most likely need extra training to come up to speed. Unless this person has a strong desire to learn and a penchant for technology, you might find them lagging behind.
Our advice to you: be clear on what you want, be clear on what you’re willing to spend, and be realistic about what it will cost to hire the right social media professional.
If you are still unsure how to determine the pay range for your social media professional and if you don’t know what questions to ask in order to clarify the role and responsibilities, LET US HELP YOU! We’ve been in the digital marketing space for 20 years, and we know how to clarify, define, and find the perfect candidate for your company. You can contact us here.
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