advertising and other stuff. no, really.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wanted: Social Media Guru Ad writer—the problem with social media help wanted ads.

Not really sure anyone uses the word guru anymore—much—but here’s one topic bugging me lately: Ads for social media openings. Although many of the job duties I see in them could easily apply to ad agency roles (namely the “must be an expert at everything” attitude), it’s obvious how much brands and agencies still have a silo mindset when it comes to the changing dynamic of advertising.

Specifically, the last thing most ads seem to bring up is how much a candidate might actually know about brands in general.

I’m not talking about how many places you were at or what brands you worked on—your damn CV better have those boxes checked off—but in the bigger sense, how do you see the role of social media, social networks or social whatever you want to call it, working in conjunction with brands and that agency in particular.

It doesn’t have to be 10 paragraphs either. Use Twitter if you have to and tell me basically:

What’s your Twitter elevator pitch to describe the holistic nature of social media relative to brands? See, easy! (Hey, if I can ask the question in under 140 characters, be ready to answer it under 140, too.)

That’s moot though if you don’t know the right approach to take with any media channel, let alone, if a brand should even be in it. Being able to herd cats is one thing, but one of the main things a social media strategist or director candidate needs to know is how brands differ across multiple industries and categories.

In other words, show me what you know outside social media.

Because then, you’d know what tactics are right for a brand and which might not be. So much of social media is knowing what not to do as much as anything, and the screening process is not designed to check that box off.

Look at any ad for a digital strategist, creative generalist, or social media expert, and you can see what I mean. Not that I’m trying to single anyone out, but that ad is absolutely typical of what’s out there now.

It sounds great, right? Covers all the bases in terms of things you *might* have to deal with at some point during the job, and even what they expect of you. Nowhere though am I seeing it answer that larger brand question.

At the risk of taking on the bigger issue of how HR handles the recruitment in general, I’d like to see a fundamental change in the process of hiring creatives too.

When it comes to strategy positions or writing/art directing, etc., be it an ad on craigslist or in that first face to face meeting, a candidate should be given a brand problem and have to come up with a solution on the spot, just to gauge their thinking. That would tell me more than the last three places they worked.

If the same agencies which are big on “an idea coming from anywhere,” then they also need to push that same mindset to include people who can think outside their usual agency roles, and not just with social media candidates. That’s what social does. Being as *fluid* as it is, it supports traditional marketing efforts as much as it can stand alone as its own media channel.

When you only focus on hiring for a range of specific tactics though, you miss that bigger picture.

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