Aptitude, not influence, makes good social media pros

Employers should not factor in a candidate's online influence when hiring for social-related positions, but recruit those who show interest and ability to navigate the social media scene.

Employers are more interested in how candidates for social media-related positions make use of technology to advance the business, rather than evaluating each individual's suitability based on their level of social influence.

Freda Kwok, lead consultant at social media marketing agency Blugrapes, said while potential hires need to have experience using popular social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, they should not be judged based on their personal use of such mediums. This means not assessing candidates based on social influence rankings provided by services such as Klout , she noted.

These scores can be easily distorted or rigged, and are not a true reflection of a person's capability to be a good online marketer, Kwok said. Furthermore, a person who has a strong online influence does not necessarily translate to having the right skillsets to manage brand campaigns and social media marketing efforts, she added.

"Employers need to assess candidates more for their professional capabilities, instead of blindsiding it based on personal abilities," she stressed.

Benjamin Koe, CEO of social media monitoring company JamiQ, similarly said the recruitment process should not take into account a candidate's personal use of social media.

"I don't agree there should be measurements at all based on social media use. It says little to nothing about a person," Koe noted.

After all, there is a big difference in having considerable social media influence personally and being able to manage social media engagement on behalf of a company, pointed out Michelle Lim, COO of jobs portal JobsCentral.

As such, she does not see prospective hires being recruited for their online presence and influence but for their ability to manage and navigate the social media scene.

Janice Tay, an online writer at a lifestyle news site, believes the practice of employers checking up on candidates' social influence scores is "more bizarre than bad". This is because such an act mixes the personal and professional use of social media, she noted.

"A person's social rank, high or low, is tied to his personal social engagement level. But once employed, he will not use social media the same way he does on his personal accounts since it's now work-related and represents his company. The result is a different social influence score altogether," Tay said.

Their comments come in light of a job advert by Salesforce.com for a community manager which stated, among the desired requirements, that the ideal candidate should have a Klout score of 35 or more.

Interest, aptitude more important
Instead of evaluating candidates on their social media influence, Kwok said Blugrapes sets out two criteria when recruiting. Firstly, the person's work mentality must gel with the company's corporate culture. Secondly, the prospective hire must have a genuine interest in social media and a willingness to learn, she explained.

JobsCentral's Lim added that maturity and ability to make quick and good judgment calls are important factors to consider for social media positions too, and these attributes cannot be readily reduced to a measurement or ranking.

Koe from JamiQ further illustrated the point, comparing one candidate who spends a lot of time on Facebook and Twitter to accrue an amazing Klout score, with another who does not have a Facebook account but keeps his ears close to what's happening locally and online, such as through online forums.

"For my business, I'd take the second guy as I know he has the skills to identify issues on behalf of my clients," he said.