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The Social Media Manager’s 8 Key Skills

It would be great if there were a cut-and-dried formula for making a social media manager. Training A + Training B + Experience C = effective professional. Alas, that’s not the case! The closest you can get to a sure-fire recipe for a social media manager is looking at the job’s essential skills.

Why is this skill-set worth considering? Because social media management is heavily in demand. When CNN and PayScale last assembled their list of the 100 best careers for great growth, high pay, and satisfying work, social media manager came in at 42.

The big demand is easy to explain. More and more brands are looking to turn social media into a tool for promotion and customer engagement, and social media managers are the ones who can help them build real online growth.

Whether you’ve tried your hand at social media before or you’re just considering it as a career, you’ll probably find this post illuminating. Read on to find out how creating and sharing quality content can make you a valuable asset for any business.

And it goes without saying, if you’re looking to hire social media gurus of your own, these skills are must-haves.

1) Writing And Editing

Although modern social media embraces all sorts of content, words are still king. Boosting engagement, expanding your reach, and making a brand truly memorable all rely on solid writing skills.

Consider the moment’s most popular brands on social media. Old Spice, All Birds, Taco Bell, and more. Whether or not you personally like the way these brands present themselves, they’ve reaped giant audiences and deploying a distinctive style of writing is one of the reasons why.

If you’re not a natural wordsmith, there are many tools available to nurture your talent. We’re particularly fond of the Hemingway App, a grammar checker that prioritises brevity in a very social media-friendly way.

Building a style guide for your social media posts is a great way to keep your writing tone consistent.

2) Search Engine Optimisation

The links that tie social media reach to search engine optimisation are a little subtle. According to Google, social signals only have a minor impact on SEO performance. That vague discouragement conceals a large and complicated relationship.

Content that performs well on social media is also likely to perform well with Google’s ranking algorithms. The link is correlation rather than causation, though. “Better SEO performance” is a bad goal for your social media campaigns, but good managers need to understand how both work.

You can use tools like LSI Graph to research keywords and phrases. Checking Google performance for your key terms is a great way to reveal the most productive topics to write about.

If SEO feels well outside your wheelhouse, just remember that the ultimate goal is offering up content that gets people to like and share.

3) Customer Service

For me as a consumer, social media has been a wonderful tool that provides an alternative path to brand engagement. I’d much rather fire up Twitter than spend a half hour on hold! I’m not the only consumer thinking this way. J.D. Power reports that 67 percent of modern consumers have used social media to find problem-solving help or ask specific questions. That’s a pretty big audience!

Social media managers have to embrace key customer service skills. Examples include:

* Promptness – 72 percent of people who address complaints to brands via Twitter expect a response within an hour.
* Monitoring – You need to seek out conversations relevant to your business and enter them constructively. Social media monitoring tools like Hootsuite and Talkwalker are perfect for this.
* Taking the initiative – You need to engage with followers proactively rather than waiting for complaints.

Customer service is key for social media management because brands stand so much to gain from building positive customer experiences here. Consumers who enjoy a positive experience through social media become almost three times as likely to recommend the brand to friends afterwards.

When you consider it this way, customer service ties directly to the awareness-building part of the social media management job.

To summarise it, as a social media manager you’re also a community manager. Cultivate your customer service skills to keep both customers and your company happy.

4) Photo Editing And Design

With a quality camera embedded in every decent smartphone, photography has become a truly democratic skill. Social media managers need to innately understand design principles and be able to give brands the imagery they need to convey their intended messages.

Remember, message retention jumps by a whopping 55 percentage points (from 10 to 65 percent) when you add an image to text.

Creating effective visual content for use on social media doesn’t require a degree in graphic design. Familiarizing yourself with all the many free sources of stock photographs is an excellent start. There are also tons of helpful tools for font selection, image manipulation, and more.

Hootsuite Enhance, for instance, is a great little tool that takes the hassle out of optimising images for different social networks. It can crop your raw photos and create perfect files for use on all of your different accounts.

5) Reporting And Analytics

Results matter in business. Social media managers absolutely must be able to show a return on investment in a convincing way.

Managers can use tools like Hootsuite Impact to measure ROI across multiple channels, including owned, earned, and paid ones. Like most good tools, this one integrates seamlessly into other analytics systems so that the social data you generate can be combined with other business metrics. Impact even produces plain-language optimisation recommendations and powerful executive reports.

Mastering return on investment – measuring it and improving it – is what separates professional social media managers from the amateurs.

6) Creating Videos

The importance of video content in engaging with audiences is growing fast.

Facebook’s daily video audience is over 500 million people according to research conducted by Cisco. Basic extrapolation of current trends suggests that in less than five years, the video will make up an overwhelming 80 percent of all consumer internet traffic.

A professional social media manager needs to be able to project brands onto video platforms like Facebook Live, Snapchat Stories, and Instagram Stories with confidence. As noted above regarding images, you’ll also need to know how to optimise videos for each different channel you use them with.

Even relative novices can create strong videos using tools like Animoto. We’re so convinced of the growing importance of video for social media that we’ve developed a whole toolkit for social video. Check it out here.

7) Understanding Paid Social

This is another place where you can see a wide gulf between the true professional and the optimistic amateur. While organic social is a tremendously powerful force, you need to understand how to amplify its effects even more with paid social.

Think of your organic social presence as the best focus group ever. You’ve got unfettered access to the exact audience you’re trying to reach, and it’s positively eager to send you feedback. Test out new products, ideas, and content on organic channels and then push the best of the best through paid advertising.

Every professional social media manager should understand how to turn organic prominence into paid dominance. From boosting single posts from your organic streams to organising whole ad campaigns, you need to be able to make every dollar count.

Tools like AdEspresso are worth purchasing because they enable you to do powerful paid tasks like ad testing. Don’t waste time guessing which words and images will perform better in paid social; put your content to the test!

8) Research, Planning, And Organization

If you thought you put your learning days behind you after college, you best think again before getting serious about professional social media management. Most of the skills described above rely on research. You can’t tweak your content for better performance if you don’t know how to study your audience and analyse data.

You also have an obligation to safeguard your reputation as a social media professional. Ideas and data are all too easy to find. Do you know how to verify the credibility and authenticity of the material you use in your business decisions?

We have plenty of advice for digging up trustworthy results. The right place to start when it comes to searching for information online is to learn the art of refining your results. Besides zeroing in on more helpful information, efficient refining will get you to the data you’re looking for faster.

Research also includes having the skills and experience to take new data and integrate it into long-term plans for how to use your social media presence in the future.

Social media is, obviously, a fast-paced world. It’s all too easy to zero in on relatively tiny actions and lose sight of the bigger picture. You need to plan wisely and regularly to keep social media activity in line with your larger goals.

If you put in an effort to master the eight essential skills we’ve described, your odds of earning respect and acclaim as a social media manager will go up significantly. It’s a complicated field, and it’s impossible for us to guarantee a step-by-step path to success. Giving each of these areas the attention it deserves is undoubtedly a bright idea!

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