Monday, September 13, 2010

Tips for hiring a public sector social media manager

We are now starting to see government departments advertising social media roles - although the titles vary, including 'New Media Adviser', 'Community Manager' and even 'Online Media Coordinator'.

In Australia it is difficult to recruit people with substantial experience for these roles. I am seeing many filled by media specialists or website managers, who are qualified in their professions, but can be new to the social media space.

This shortage of experienced people also reflect competition from the private sector. Corporate social media roles are now advertised at entry levels around $50,000, mid-range around $90 and at senior levels at $130,000 or more. Government agencies are not always able to offer similar levels of compensation, although attempt to compensate through conditions and superannuation contributions.

Some agencies are taking the route of having graduates lead social media initiatives in the belief that their youth gives them greater familiarity with the medium.

While graduates do come with enthusiasm, innovation and fresh ideas, they haven't always had time to build experience in the public sector, to understand the governance processes or political considerations or build networks of influence. They need support from mentors and sponsors to overcome these challenges.

Graduates may also not be the most experienced users of social media - the types of social media used by a graduate can be quite different from those used by a professional communicator with five or more years experience, simply due to the different professional needs they have in their lives.

Introducing social media into an organisation is a complex and delicate endeavour. When was the last time organisations added a major new communications channel? What type of cultural, procedural and technical changes were required? How major was the change program - and how well resourced?

Traditionally government employs specialist teams for policy development, program management and service delivery - yet in the social media space a single person or small team is often required to have all these skills in ample measure.

This means agencies need to think seriously about the experience and expertise they need in the people they employ to lead their social media initiatives. The experience and expertise required to navigate the cultural and change considerations, work within the governance and processes and appreciate the public communications and political sensitivities around social media adoption.

To aid in this challenge the post 12 Steps To Hiring A Social Media Manager from SocialMediaToday provides many useful tips and considerations that organisations need to take on board when making a social media manager hire.

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff Craig. That 12 Steps post from SocialMediaToday is a good resource - wish I had seen it before. In case helfpul, have a look at my post on interview questions for social media managers at