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10 essential skills of a social media manager

10 essential skills of a social media manager

Only 10 years ago the social media manager role was not even a job or a career. It didn’t exist. Facebook was barely a year old and was still just a way for people to connect to other students online. The term social media marketing wasn’t in the lexicon.

Fast forward a decade and every organisation must have a social media manager, whether full time or part time. They need to be like a juggler at a circus and keep a lot of balls up in the air and make them all land safely. It requires skill-sets which means managing many moving parts. Technical, analytical, creative with a bit of project management thrown in.

Essential skills of a social media manager

It means always being ‘on’ and keeping tabs on your community. It involves being creative like an artist but also learning to be the “data scientist“. In a digital age the geeks may indeed inherit the earth.

Here are the top skills a social media manager needs to have to succeed and excel:
1. Strategy planning

You will need to understand the big picture. How search, content, and social media all work together. You will need to outline goals, define your target audience, and know what platforms will help you scale your efforts. As social media marketing is complicated you will need the right tools to do “social at scale” and automate.

2. Tactics and execution

Tactical execution is paramount to the success of any social media managers day-to-day job. This means you need to have attention to detail or understand who you need to hire to maintain day-to-day accurate execution of the required tactics.

3. Community management

Social media is about creating, observing, and responding to conversations within your brand community. Monitoring tweets, responding to Facebook posts, and engaging with brand advocates. It even means knowing how to respond to trolls and negative feedback. It’s part PR and part commonsense.

4. Understand how content works on a social web

Social media delivers and amplifies content, both from the brand and its community. The social media manager needs to know what content works and what doesn’t on social networks. It also means understanding which different media formats such as text (articles), video, images, and podcasts resonate with your particular niche.

You will need to know how to make content move and maybe even go viral across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and the other social networks.

5. Optimising content and technology

The social web is an ecosystem of search, mobile, and content. Making sure that you know how to guide a customer down a sales funnel from discovery, engagement, following, and finally sales requires some particular skill-sets:

  • Understanding the essential for optimising content for SEO, so search engines will rank high for your keywords and phrases on Google
  • Converting traffic when they hit your landing pages so customers register for webinars, download eBooks, and share your content
6. Creative mindset

Social media marketing is not just cold hard tactics. It means understanding the creative process that provides creative content that engages with your customer and touches their hearts and not just their minds.

Don’t underestimate the importance of creative visual content and be willing to experiment. Artists are always pushing their limits.

7. Writing skills

Images are essential on a visual web and pictures of cats and cute babies and funny images are important. But great writing and how it works online are also vital. It includes:

  • The art and science of headline writing
  • Writing engaging introductions
  • Structuring your text for easy reading online. People will be skimming and scanning, so that means subtitles, bullet points, and numbering are part of the skill-set
8. Be on top of the latest digital marketing trends

Social media is not a singularity. The social web is made up of intersecting trends as it matures and evolves. These mean understanding some of the following:

  • The rise and role of mobile
  • The emergence of “pay to play” with Facebook reducing its organic reach
  • The rise and rise of visual marketing with Instagram, and a Twitter that is looking much more like a visual image feed punctuated with 140 character tweets.
9. Analytical skills

When social media started there were no tools to measure the impact of your campaigns and marketing initiatives on social media. There were no analytics tools on Facebook or Twitter. You saw what worked by mindlessly monitoring the the streams, posts, and pages. More art than science.

Now you can measure what works and what doesn’t in real time. Today you can even measure sentiment. In 2015 it is becoming “more science than art”

10. Leadership and communication skills

Keeping the management informed, the team motivated, and customers excited and engaged means knowing the art of communication. This includes presentation skills both verbally and written.

A social media manager needs to manage! That means they need to be a leader.

What other skills do you think a social media manager should have? Please comment in the comments section below.

More reading:

It’s time for organisations to stop wasting money on ‘social media’
The new skills you need for the digital age
The role of social media in crisis communications
10 content marketing lessons from the world’s fastest growing websites

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