One of the challenges all organizations face today concerning its social media campaign is not so much how to to do it, but selecting the right manager to run it? Tapping the right person, persons, or company to lead the social media charge is unlike filling spots in other departments. So some of the tried and true processes you’ve used for years are about to backfire and can do damage quickly.

At this point, whether you run your own business or are the CEO of a multinational, you know a little about social media. Maybe even a lot. And if you’re like most leaders, you really don’t want to know more about it, but you know it makes good business sense that you do. Your job is to make sure the person in charge knows it inside and out.

The problem is that the medium, its tools and its best practices, changes pretty much daily. Keep in mind that social media employees are not only doing their job, they are schooling themselves on how to do their job. The changes are constant, the standards not set, and its the equivalent of building a raft while on the ocean rather than on the shore. This is not the case anywhere in your organization, but think of the havoc it would cause if it was. Social Media is both a rocket ship and a highly combustible bomb waiting to go off. It’s why some really big companies barely touch it.

This molten lava-like foundation makes it a challenge to determine whether or not the candidates know their stuff. A common way most people hire is to see if a prospect can “talk the talk”. Do they know the terminology, the software, the language, the code, the three letter acronyms that everyone in the field knows?  Financial experts must know Excel, graphic experts must know Photoshop, social media experts must know…ah it doesn’t matter, they’ll figure it out. And other than Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, there are no mandatory outlets.  And even those might not be helping your cause.

So how do you choose or better, avoid choosing the wrong social media manager? The most common mistake I’ve come across is age. Companies view social media as a tool of the youth, so therefore choose a kid to do it – and I don’t mean a young executive. I can’t tell you how many “social media managers” are the high school and college age offspring of your C-level staff.  First, understand that social media is not the medium of youth but rather a youthful medium. It is another form of advertising, marketing, public relations, and customer relations. Treat is as such. Hire professionals who have experience in these fields. No, it’s not rocket science – but it is a science.

In How to Avoid Choosing the Wrong Social Media Manager – Part 2,  I’ll discuss an even bigger mistake companies make: specialization. It’s a trend that’s already having negative impact on the bottom line.