Social media is one of the most powerful innovations of the last 20 years. While the internet was able to make the world accessible with a click of a button, social media was the tool that connected people.
Starting small on sites such as MySpace, social media powerhouses such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have developed over the last few years to be some of the most influential companies in the world. Today, there are a plethora of social media channels that connect people of all ages and demographics.
Social media today is more than just something to do for fun, though; it’s a way for businesses to directly connect and interact with their current and prospective customers. A business’ social media channels can be the heart and soul of their brand, of how people view their company.
That’s why the role of a social media manager has become so important.
Social media managers go above and beyond simply creating social media pages and posting content. Social media managers are responsible for managing the company’s brand as seen by a majority of the world.
What makes a good social media manager is a particular set of skills that oftentimes isn’t seen at other positions in a company.
It’s a job that is part writer and editor, part marketer, part designer and part public relations. A social media manager also must be self-driven and have the ability to lead a process while working independently.
A day-in-the-life of a social media manager might look something like this:
Throughout the day, these are the top 10 skills a social media manager will need to succeed.
1. They Must Have Solid Communication Skills
It may seem obvious that someone whose primary job is to connect with people from outside the company needs to have good communication skills. In fact, it’s arguably the No. 1 skill social media managers need to be successful.
Communication skills in this realm are slightly different than they are in traditional communication roles. Social media managers need to be able to understand the audience they are communicating with and speak in a way that will resonate with that audience.
While all social media is similar in the sense of what it accomplishes, each social media channel has a slightly different way of communicating. Recognizing and understanding the way a person communicates on Facebook is different than the way a person communicates on Twitter is essential.
2. They Must Be Social
The best social media managers are people who thoroughly enjoy social media and participate on social media on a personal level. To be a truly successful communicator on social media, one has to know not only the ins and the outs of the programs but be able to use the vernacular common to each.
It sticks out like a sore thumb when an “outsider” posts on a social media channel, and that can have a negative effect on the business’ reputation. That’s why a social media manager who is well versed in everything each channel entails is key, and why the best social media managers are those who, first and foremost, participated in social media on a personal level before taking it on as their profession.
3. They Must Have Personality & Creativity
One of the biggest differences between social media usage for work and personal life is the formality of the content. This isn’t to say that social media messaging for businesses should be stuffy. It’s quite the opposite actually.
Social media channels are a way for businesses to communicate with customers on a more personal level. So, a sense of humor, a touch of creativity and a voice that resonates with the audience are all must-haves. A business’ social media channels shouldn’t come off as ads or include typical PR jargon.
4. They Must Be Up on Digital Data
The top three skills on this list all deal with the make-up of the person who holds the title of social media manager. The rest are all professionally-based skills.
A social media manager needs to take the content a step further by optimizing and analyzing it. This means being able to discern whether the social media marketing is working by culling the appropriate data for each channel and then adjusting the content, if necessary.
This aspect of the job requires knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO) general practices, and specifically how search engines treat social media posts.
5. They Must Be Project Managers
Managing social media channels for a business isn’t all fun and games. It’s a serious job that takes serious management skills.
Some social media managers will be one-man or one-woman teams. If this is the case, the person will need to approach each channel as a separate project with short-, medium- and long-term goals, along with that of the overall social media plan.
Some social media managers have a team of people helping them manage each of the channels. In these cases, the manager will need to have solid skills in managing people as well as a project.
6. They Must Write & Edit Well
While social media provides some leeway in terms of language and content, keep in mind that it’s still a message being sent to current and prospective customers; it’s still messaging that will serve as the public voice of a company.
That’s why all successful social media managers need to have excellent writing and editing skills. Some of the typical language one might use for a personal social media account won’t fly on a professional account.
Yes, the social media manager will need to be able to inject some flair into the writing, but it must be done in such a way that is professional. This goes for content the manager will write, and for the content he or she will edit that others on the team have written.
7. They Must Have Visual Skills
Social media is a very visually-driven form of communication. Even posts on text-based channels such as Twitter perform better if they have pictures that go along with the text. That’s why successful social media managers need to have an understanding of how to pair visuals with text.
This means a good social media manager will be able to cull available images from the internet or from a company’s database, and also must be able to create great imagery on his or her own – or at least be able to tell a design department in the company what to create.
8. They Must Be Flexible & Adaptable
A social media manager’s job requires a lot of patience and flexibility. Not only are a company’s needs changing all the time, but social media itself is, too. This is where the flexibility comes in.
A good social media manager will need to be able to digest changes made to each social media channel, as well as how to shift the approach to that channel.
In addition, social media managers need to be able to adapt to each environment they are communicating in, as sometimes the change occurs with the users of a social media channel and not just the channel itself.
This means being up on all the trends on not just how people are using Twitter, for example, but what they are talking about on Twitter – whether that relates to the manager’s company or not.
9. They Must Be Great Marketers
Ultimately, the purpose of a social media channel is to create marketing opportunities. The fun part of social media is communicating, taking photos, creating eye-pleasing posts and interacting with people.
But the end goal is to market the business. The social media manager doesn’t need to have a strong direct sales background, but he or she does need to understand that the content the social team produces is ideally supposed to generate sales – if even in an indirect way.
It’s important also, then, for the social media manager to be able to recognize a sales lead that may come across in a reply to a message, and pass it along to the sales team.
10. They Must Have Excellent Customer Service Skills
One aspect of social media that can’t be overlooked is the fact that it’s a two-way communication street. It’s simple for people to reply to your content or share it with all of their followers.
Successful social media managers will understand this customer service aspect of the job and will have the ability to effectively monitor the activity on each social media channel as well as respectfully reply to all inquiries in a timely manner – whether the reply is positive or negative.
People can say whatever they want on social media – and they often do – so approaching these people in a polite, respectful manner does take some patience and discipline.
The best social media managers will have a nice combination of the above 10 skills, as it’s truly a position that requires a diverse set of skills across a variety of traditional disciplines.
In-Post Infographic: Visualistan
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our daily newsletter from SEJ’s Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!