By Kathi Kruse, Founder, Kruse Control Inc.

Every dealership wants to grow. But the complexities of social media have increased, and one of the steps you’ll need to consider is hiring a social media manager.

Hiring a social media manager requires assessing your resources and possibly adjusting your current operational structure.

Realistically, it’s unlikely that you, as the owner or manager, will be managing your social media. It’s very difficult to produce original, high-quality content, monitor comments, check and respond to reviews, run ads successfully, and continually up your game while operating your store or department every day.

Hiring a social media manager is challenging.

During the hiring process, you’ll need to determine who measures up and who doesn’t. Most dealers or HR managers don’t spend a lot of time on social networks, so it’s quite a challenge to identify who the best candidate may be to handle the business’ reputation, social presence, and sales leads.

Social media reaches car buyers in unique ways. Your social media manager must possess the skills to address all the ways that your customers are communicating with you.

Who speaks for your dealership on social media?

Now that social media is entrenched in our lives, many people are trying to capitalize on how it can benefit a store. But remember this: not everyone who says they can do social media have actually done it successfully!

When you’re ready to hire (or promote) your social media manager, pose these 10 questions to your candidate. Their answers will inform your decision and help you pick the right person.

10 Questions to Ask Dealership Social Media Manager Candidates

1. What social media platforms are best for a car dealership? (And have them explain why.)

Ask them to describe the “personality” of your company brand in three words.They should have done research on your company and your customers before assessing the potential across today’s social media channels. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, and others are unique channels with different marketing tactics. First and foremost, focus on the channel(s) where your target customers spend their time.

2. What are the two most important social media metrics a dealer should monitor regularly?

Engagement. Whatever the channel, there needs to be measurable conversation around your company brand. Content drives social success, so if your content stinks, you won’t see people engaging. Your candidate should be well-versed in what constitutes relevant content for your target customers.Leads.

Social media efforts should result in many positive things, but at the end of the day, you should be getting some type of lead generation from those efforts. Why? Because when a business expends resources, that endeavor requires a return on investment (ROI).

What is the candidate’s track record with Facebook and Google ads? Have they ever run a social campaign that generated leads? Ask them to outline a strategy for social/online advertising.

Also, remember that listening and responding timely to social media leads is crucial. Just like with in-person conversations, when people talk to you, they expect a response. Ensure the candidate has a solid idea of how leads will be handled and how they can support lead handling in general.

3. Are they accomplished in a social marketing environment AND in a social customer service environment?

Ask your candidate to define the difference between the two.Social marketing environment is “pre-sale.” It calls for a more conversational approach. Most social media conversations don’t revolve around sales. Your candidate should be able to recognize where a customer is in their purchase journey and guide them to their destination.

Social customer service environment is “post-sale.” It requires empathy, patience, and the ability to resolve conflict. Your candidate must be able to recognize situations that may call for an escalation to management. Remember: in many cases, they’re not just responding to that one customer but to an audience of future customers!

4. What’s the most important thing a social media manager should be doing?

A solid answer would be monitoring and/or listening to the audience within the brand’s social channels. Engaging regularly with fans and followers shows that you’re there – you care – and you’re interested in having them as customers. When you listen, you learn how to help them buy.

5. Have they ever had to handle a social media crisis?

Ask them to define what a social media crisis means and what steps they would take to resolve a situation. If the company doesn’t have a “best practices” protocol, it’s time to get one. This would be included in your social media policy and, among other guidelines, should emulate your current conflict resolution process.

6. How would they allocate your budget for social media/online advertising?

Facebook and Google advertising have become very complex. Ask your candidate to describe a plan for how best to allocate an ad budget and how they would know it’s successful.

Many dealers outsource Google and/or Facebook ads, but a social media manager should know the basics and expected outcomes if they manage the vendors.

Facebook posts are rarely seen by fans and require a more robust strategy to attract attention. Your online ads strategy should include Google ads as well.

Pro Tip: Allocating a budget for every investment is crucial. These are the six social media investments you’ll need to consider as a prerequisite for success:
– Financial
– Time
– Human Resources
– Attention
– Monitoring, Publishing, and Reporting Software
– Training

7. Do they currently write or produce content for social media channels?

Ask to see examples of current profiles they’ve participated in managing, including their own. Ask to see links to content they’ve written on the web. Candidates will often produce content for places like LinkedIn and Medium, rather than having their own personal blog.

It’s crucial that your candidate has a working understanding of how content drives digital marketing. A working understanding of website design and website UX (User Experience) would be ideal.

8. Ask them what social media strategies they plan to use to gain attention and foster leads.

As the owner or manager, you need to see that social media is giving you quantifiable results for your money.

There are various and specific KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) to consider but the path to successful social media outcomes includes these metrics:
– Audience Growth
– Audience Profile
– Audience Engagement
– Content Reach
– Engagement by Content Type
– Leads
– Conversions
– Negative Feedback

9. Ask them what their first goals would be.

If your candidate starts talking about vanity metrics like growing ‘X’ number of Facebook likes or ‘Y’ number of Instagram followers, counter those statements with:
– How will they build an audience of in-market customers?
– How do they plan to engage with that specific audience?

The candidate might try to focus on vanity metrics so keep in mind that a small, switched-on, and engaged audience offers much more value than a bunch of disengaged fans/followers from outside your market area.

10. Ask them to tell you a story.

I’ve saved the coolest, most enjoyable question for last. If your candidate can tell a compelling story, that skill will deliver a huge advantage at all levels of marketing, not just social media.

We all connect via stories. Stories paint pictures in customers’ minds and evoke emotions that foster trust and credibility. Your candidate must be able to illustrate, through stories, why people choose you over your competitor.

PS: Their story doesn’t need to be business related. A compelling story is a compelling story.

Bonus question: Does your candidate have a working knowledge of all forms of digital marketing and advertising? Social media and its complexities are part of an overall marketing plan. While you may be outsourcing some of the following activities, your ideal candidate should have the knowledge or experience in:
– Email Marketing
– Google Analytics
– Google Search and Display Ads
– Online Review sites
– Offline Marketing (Print, Direct Mail, etc.)
– Video Production

One final thought on hiring a social media manager

This is not a position that should be taken lightly or seen as entry-level. Your social media manager will speak the lifeblood of your store’s brand to an infinite amount of current, new, and legacy customers. Please take deliberate steps to find the embodiment of your brand’s personality. Choose someone who takes the leadership role in building your digital reputation.

About the Contributor
Kathi Kruse is an automotive digital retail advisor, dealership profitability expert, author, speaker, and founder/CEO of Kruse Control Inc. Born in the heart of Los Angeles to a family of “car people,” Kathi’s passion for business spans a 25-year automotive retail career, managing $100 million+ stores in Southern California.

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This article was originally published in the Nov./Dec. 2022 Issue of Dealer Magazine. You can view the latest digital edition as well as past issues of Dealer Magazine here.

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