As Twitter Turns 8, Here’s What to Look for in Your Next Social Media Manager

TwitterOn Friday, Twitter will celebrate it's 8th birthday. For all its ubiquity, the social networking giant's relatively young age illustrates an important point—most businesses are only starting to figure out how to wield it. And that hasn't always gone well.

With its increased popularity and with help from other popular networks such as  Facebook, Twitter birthed an entire new industry and many new jobs—most notably, social media/community manager. Many companies experienced growing pains filling this new role with competent people (think Justine Sacco's tweet regarding AIDS, Kenneth Cole's Cairo tweet, Chrysler's F-bomb, American Apparel's Hurricane Sandy Sale and, well, you get the message).

Still, every major company needs a community manager. So what should your company look for to fill that role? Brian Spero, a social media specialist and contributor to PR News' Digital PR & Social Media Guidebook Vol. 6, provides a few tips:

  • Journalistic chops: Strong writing skills and an understanding of techniques that work for the various social media formats is a must. So is a command of proper grammar and practical experience proofing and fact checking. See what the candidate can do within a Twitter character limit, but also test his or her ability to write and edit clearly, cleanly and concisely.
  • Tech/Web savvy: From working with do-it-all social media platforms, such as Sprout Social or HootSuite, to using channel-specific analytics tools like Facebook Insights and PinReach, the compelling candidate has a passion for identifying and mastering the latest innovations. A social media manager should exhibit a broad perspective on Web marketing, from the ability to track, analyze and report on activities to a working knowledge of the close relationship between social and advanced SEO strategies.
  • Superior communication skills: Not only does the position require exceptional writing skills, but also necessitates the ability to communicate and present ideas and concepts verbally. In addition to having a sound grasp on all outgoing communications, a social media manager must be able to listen to the conversation and accept criticism and guidance.
  • Networking and promotion abilities: Does your candidate have the network of media contacts, online influencers and freelancers to achieve objectives ranging from reaching qualified pools of targeted consumers to producing media collateral primed to go viral? Look for an ambassador who has a grasp on the nuance and etiquette of working with brand advocates and is capable of interacting with customers and clients in order to build relationships forged on trust.

To celebrate Twitter's 8th birthday, head back in time to 2006 and check out your first tweet, via Twitter's new minisite.

Follow Brian Greene: @bwilliamgreene