The Way We Work
April 5, 2012 by Jenna Weiner

With more than 800 million active users on Facebook and more than 3.5 billion pieces of content shared among them each week, social media marketing is becoming more than just a promising opportunity for businesses of all sizes — it is now truly an integral part of any successful digital marketing strategy.

Still, such a nascent industry can be difficult for any marketing pro to master. Among B2B marketers, for example, only 47 percent are satisfied with their social media strategy, according to a survey from Penton Marketing Services. How can businesses — particularly small companies and startups — keep up with the demand for social media marketing, especially when one of the most important elements of success is frequency of engagement?

At a recent fireside chat in San Francisco sponsored by the Facebook Marketing Outlet Meetup group — titled “Turbocharge Your Facebook & Social Media Marketing with Virtual Talent” — oDesk CEO Gary Swart discussed how businesses can leverage online talent to strengthen and extend their social media marketing efforts.

Demand for social-media related skills on oDesk has grown significantly in the past year, Gary explained. Facebook-related job postings grew from approximately 4,000 openings in March 2011 to more than 7,000 in February 2012, and Twitter-related positions rose from approximately 2,000 openings in February 2011 to more than 3,500 openings last month. He also revealed that social media marketing is one of the top 20 most popular categories of work on oDesk.

Additionally, Gary discussed some best practices for developing a social media strategy and finding talent to execute it. While careful hiring practices are always recommended for any type of project, social media marketing may require even more attention — this is because social media activity reflects so directly on your brand, and because the work requires a very particular skill set (and some of the skills, such as good judgement, can be hard to identify in a portfolio).

Here are Gary’s top five tips for successful online hiring in social media marketing:

  1. Choose your channels. The first step, he said, is to determine which channels to use. This decision should be based on where your target audience is and what your social media marketing goals are.
  2. Identify experts in those channels. After you have identified your target social media channels and what your goals will be for each of them, you should look for social media marketers with expertise on those specific platforms, as not all social media channels are created equal.
  3. Be descriptive. When writing your job description, “be crystal clear, not just about the needs but about the wants,” Gary said.
  4. Ask relevant questions in the job post. This allows you to both assess applicants’ qualifications but also to determine if they read the job description carefully.
  5. Do a test project. Hire your top candidates for a small test project, one that will give you a good indication of their social media marketing skills. One thing to keep an eye out for, Gary noted, is that the candidates have an authentic voice in their messaging, as authenticity is key in social media marketing.

Gary also discussed oDesk’s own use of contractors from its platform, not just to augment its staff in social media but to serve key roles across the organization. “We have zero developers in our Redwood City office,” he noted. “We have an on-demand team from around the world.”

“You’ll find fantastic people on the platform that deserve the rate they’re charging,” he added. “We certainly have.”

Jenna Weiner

Content Marketer

Jenna Weiner is the former content marketing manager at oDesk and was the editor-in-chief of the oDesk blog. With a background in business and technology writing, she specializes in content marketing and strategy, public relations, and branding. Before joining oDesk, Jenna was a writer and editor for Monitor Group’s marketing department (now Monitor Deloitte) and was the Business & Technology Section Editor for Brafton Inc.… read more