Looking for a social media hire?

So full disclosure: I started thinking about today's column because two of my colleagues from the newsroom: Lori Todd and Mallory Colliflower - have found jobs with other companies in social media. While they're certainly not the first to transition from journalism into social media full-time - they're just the most recent - it made me realize how many companies are hiring in this area - so I thought I would call up some local companies who were hiring to talk to them about how they did it. 

Final Cartoon Mostly, I was curious because it seems like many companies who are hiring in this area might be doing so because they don't have any background in it all - so how do they know how to hire, especially given the fact that so many people are touting themselves as social media experts? I decided to speak with AutoNation and the Knight Foundation,where Mallory and Lori have ended up. Despite the organizational differences of a large, public company versus a nonprofit, three main themes emerged: Personalities matter. So do results. But having a evangelist spirit about social media is just as important.

AutoNation's social media strategy is simple, said spokesman Marc Cannon: "We want people to be informed customers.''

The Fort Lauderdale company has just hired a social media coordinator, one of five such positions that have been created over the past year. Cannon said the company looked mostly at personality.

"There's a sense of energy you need with these folks,'' said Cannon. "They have to be good conversationalists, and hone things down into short message points.''

But results matter, too.

"Everybody blogs and everybody tweets,'' said the Knight Foundation's Marc Fest, who is looking to fill an online community coordinator position. "Let's say you have a blog and you routinely get people to comment, and you have 5,000 followers on Twitter. That shows you know how to engage people.''

Both want to infuse a sense of social media not just in that hire but throughout the organization, so having an evangelist nature about spreading social media to other employees is just as important.

Companies shouldn't be intimidated by hiring for social media, said Jackie Stone, a New York-based vice president with Digitas, an interactive marketing agency, who suggested businesses remember their long histories of hiring in communications.

Whether it's a big brand, a nonprofit or a small business, the most important thing is to have a sound strategy, a constant voice and to be authentic, she said.

"It's really important to have somebody who can listen and respond properly -- not just respond,'' she said.

Jessica Randazza was just hired by Digitas in January, to work in part on social media strategy. She echoed one thought that both AutoNation and the Knight Foundation also told me: you should hire someone who is passionate about your brand or product, because if they're not, that will show, too.

Those are some starting points for what you might look for in a social media hire, but I'm curious if folks want to weigh in on other qualities they have, or have found important in the hiring process.

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Rejecting a Facebook friend takes tact

In today's Poked column, which I posted below for your reading convenience, we address the question that comes to us from an evil Facebook-using genius:


A colleague and avid Poked reader sent us this inquiry recently about how to say ''no'' politely online. Here's the question: "I just rejected a friend request yesterday. Today, what's in my in-box but a friend request from the same person. What's a polite yet firm way to say, "Thanks but no thanks?"

After some follow-up correspondence, we learned two important things. First, the potential friend was someone our co-worker is familiar with professionally, not personally. Second, an interesting strategy: Our co-worker was Poking the person, but then declining the friend invitation. (Poking is a virtual way of getting someone's attention or just a silly way to say hello.) This created the illusion of friending because Poking someone allows temporary access to people's profiles.

Our co-worker said this is a way to fool people into not realizing they're rejected.

Bridget thought this was a good gambit, especially if you don't mind taking risks and you tend to deal with not-so-savvy Facebook friends. Someone who sends you two friend requests in two days probably qualifies.

But be careful. What if they want to contact you later on and realize they have no access to your profile? They might think you've defriended them.

Awkward . . .

If you want to be sneaky, the Poking strategy might work. But clearly this is neither a polite nor a firm way to reject someone.

We suggest honesty. A tactfully worded e-mail saying that you prefer to keep professional contacts on LinkedIn, and a follow-up invitation you initiate to join on that network, should suffice.

HELPFUL HINT: Bridget recently received an amazing friend request from a public relations professional who works for a company she writes about. He said something like this: ''Hey, I know I'm in PR, but if you accept PR people on Facebook I'd be honored!''. How great is a potential friend who understands people have boundaries on social networks? We love it.

Does anyone out there actually have a polite method of rejection? E-mail what you do, or any another questions of netiquette to poked@MiamiHerald.com.

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Poking your boss...

Ok, so a few people brought up the fact that in our first column we didn't actually SAY what we thought about poking your boss.

Hey, we said it was tricky. Bridget and I both think it depends on your workplace and your relationship with your boss.

My direct editor is actually my friend on Facebook -- in part because we were FB friends before he became my editor. We poke each other, but it's kind of a joke because we've talked about it -- it was actually one of those conversations that started this whole blog/column idea. (This was way back when throwing sheep was in vogue). And when he's having a bad day or vice versa, it's kind of a hey, "I'm sending you a cheer up" message.

But our workplace (by that I mean the newsroom at The Miami Herald) is a fairly casual office environment.

p.s. This brings up another netequitte/pet peeve of mine -- I don't like it when people blog about you without asking if that's okay first. So yes, I asked my editor for his permission to talk about him in this blog post. (Obviously, he said yes.)

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To boldly poke where no co-worker has poked before

Ever been poked by a co-worker and didn't know what to do? Then this blog is for you ... especially if you have no idea what we're talking about.

Here we'll discuss social networking etiquette as it relates to the working world. For the record, poking is a virtual way of getting someone's attention on Facebook. It's a tricky move.

Someecards_facebookpicsToo often Niala and I find ourselves cringing over social network faux pas being committed in networks like Facebook and Linkedin. But it's understandable, since social networking is a new frontier for many. We want to use this blog to clear up some of the dos and don'ts. And for that gray territory, we want to hear how you would handle things.

Read our first column with basic tips for bosses and workers in today's Miami Herald.

In the meantime, e-mail us your questions, comments and tales of awkward business netiquette to poked@MiamiHerald.com.

And here's a poll just to get things started:

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