Nearly every business is involved with some kind of online marketing. The opportunities for building an online community around your brand are endless: Facebook pages, blogging, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+ company pages are just a few. Where do you find people to help navigate the brave new world of social media marketing and carve out a niche for your brand.

You can hire a marketing agency to manage the whole process for you. Or you can hire a fulltime or contract online marketing specialist to manage your online marketing in house. Here’s how to find the best person for the job.

Supply Exceeds Demand

Recruiter surrounded by stacks of resumes

Sorting through resumes to find the needle in the haystack

The demand for people with online marketing skills is sky rocketing as companies compete for their slice of the social media pie. Finding candidates is easy because the supply of people who call themselves online marketing specialists is still higher than the demand for this skillset.

The challenge is sorting through all of this enthusiasm to figure out who can really get the job done.

Finding the Needle in the Haystack

How do you find the “real deal” – a true online marketing expert with proven skills and a history of successful campaigns? It’s kind of like finding a needle in a haystack. If you know what you’re looking for, then at least you’ll know the “real deal” when they’re sitting across the table from you.

It’s a Mash up of Hard and Soft Skills

Online marketing requires a mash up of technical and communication skills plus a cutting edge understanding of the latest developments in search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), content creation and social media. The superstars bring creativity, style and charisma that will keep your online marketing fresh and engaging.

The ideal candidate is obsessed with online marketing, lives and breathes social media and has a searchable track record that proves they know what they’re doing. It’s not that person has to be young. But they do have to be nimble and obsessive about staying on top of trends because the social engine marketing arena changes continuously.

Recipe for a Successful Hire

Before you start sorting through resumes and interviewing, answer this question: What exactly does the person need to achieve in order to for you to be happy with their performance?

Choose the Right Ingredients to Cook Up Good Will for Your Brand

The approaches that a person can take to promote your brand online are endless – blogging, Twitter, videos, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, podcasts, press releases, Adwords, Reddit, Zoomit, Mashable, Techcrunch… It’s kind of like Bubba telling Forest Gump the ways to cook shrimp. Only in this case you’re cooking up some good will for your brand.

You need to make sure that the person you hire is excited by the kind of approach you want them to take to achieve your goals.

Set the Bar for Success

Set the bar for a successful job placement before the person starts working for you. If you are very clear about your expectations during the hiring process, you will know if the person is meeting expectations when they actually start working for you.

Examples of Goals and Milestones for Online Marketing

  • Create popular content that attracts lots of visitors, gets shared and gets comments
  • Create a Facebook Page with lots of “likes” and an active wall
  • Build engagement with your brand on Twitter
  • Improve your Google Page Rank for specific pages
  • Increase comments and engagement with your corporate blog
  • Get noticed and mentioned by influential bloggers
  • Get the press to notice and mention your brand
  • Get more conversions on your Adwords
  • Grow your email subscription list
  • Manage your Google+ page
  • Increase visitors to your site
  • Provide customer service via social media

Writing the Job Description

Copy and paste from the following list of items to build your own custom job description.

Possible Job Titles

Online Marketing Coordinator, Social Media Marketing Manager, Community Manager, SEM (Search Engine Marketing) Specialist

Typical Activities

  • Strategizing: Identify new opportunities to leverage social media to drive business results.
  • Implement and follow through on marketing strategies: Integrate social media marketing into existing strategies and processes. (This where the hard work comes in. It’s fun to come up with brilliant new strategies, but the follow through is what separates the professionals from the dreamers.)
  • Community Management: Manage and monitor online reputation, gain insights, identify opportunities to add value to conversations, and provide intelligence to leaders and other stakeholders.
  • Metrics: Use data to inform company-wide decision-making on the use of social media. Create measurement frameworks to evaluate the effectiveness of social media initiatives and report back to management on ROI.
  • Technical skills: Graphic Design, HTML, CSS, Video Blogging


  1. Stays on top of current trends: Follows social media, SEO and SEM blogs and gurus. Engagement with SEM community thought leaders and online marketing gurus.
  2. Strategizing new ideas to promote the brand: Track record of implementing social media strategies for business
  3. Uses analytics and metrics to monitor and share results: What tools do they use to monitor the success of their campaigns?
  4. Community Involvement via your chosen social media channels.
  5. Creates content in formats that suit your community – look for real examples of articles, videos, podcasts, PDFs, ebooks, and resource pages that the person has created
  6. Technical skills to create and style web pages, blog posts, email campaigns, slide shows, pdfs, videos, podcasts or whatever type of content your company likes to deliver.
  7. A history of successful involvement online: Google the person. Examine their Twitter feed. Is it conversational, helpful and friendly? What LinkedIn groups do they participate in? Check out their Twitter/LinkedIn/Facebook follow count.
  8.  Experience with Analytics: Uses analytics software to track and tweak online marketing initiatives.
  9. Technical skills: Graphic design, creating web pages and blog posts, HTML, CSS, WordPress, creating PDFs, creating slide shows.

Possible Interview Questions

  • How do you stay on top of current trends in online marketing?
  • How did you develop your skills?
  • Describe an online marketing failure you experienced. What did your learn?
  • How has search engine marketing changed in the last six months?
  • How to you promote blog articles? What are your favorite ways for sharing articles and engaging readers to make comments?
  • What experience have you had with reaching out to the press?
  • What is the best balance of writing content vs marketing content? 50/50, 20/80, 80/20 – Look for someone who puts more emphasis on promoting content than on creating content.
  • Who are your marketing heros? Favourite blogs. Best places to stay on top of trends in SEM, SEO and social media? What strategies do you take away? (ie: Derek Halpern from, Guy Kawasaki, Sonia Simone, Brian Clarke, Seth Godin, CopyBlogger, are some that might come up).
  • Give me some examples of online marketing campaigns you’ve been involved with. What would you do differently now?
  • Rank these 3 activities in order from most important to least important: article writing, article promotion, community management. Tell me why you put them in that order. (Again, you are looking for someone who will follow through with marketing after they publish the content.)
  • What types of content do you create? Video, postcasts, pdf, landing pages
  • What are your technical skills? HTML, CSS, WordPress, Video blogging
  • Where can I see online examples of your work?

What Will It Take for You To Be Happy with A New Hire?

The list of things an online marketing specialist can do to promote your brand is endless. That’s why it’s so important for you to be up front with the person about what you need them to do. You also need to be realistic about how much work it is possible for one person to do. Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity. Or overwhelm the person with unrealistic expectations.

Make sure that your idea of success for the role matches the person’s goals for the position. Otherwise you will be endlessly questioning whether the person is doing a good job.


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