Core competencies, skills of a social media manager

It is essential in today’s economy for every company to have a robust, malleable digital presence; and, since social media platforms provide that ability, the demand for social media managers is growing by the day.

Therefore, those seeking social media manager positions or jobs of a similar ilk need to understand what qualities and competencies are required to obtain this type of job and succeed in it. Here are some of the core skills and competencies that a social media manager must have.

Photo courtesy of Martin Brossman

The fall 2018 Social Media Management Certificate Program graduating class

Contrary to popular opinion, the requisite skills for a social media manager are diverse and take practiced refinement. Some of those core skills include collecting, creating and curating content; operating social media scheduling tools; utilizing and interpreting analytical data; SEO and social media writing and editing; understanding social media advertising and post-boosting (especially on Facebook); and marketing to increase interest and revenue. In essence, the skills that a social media manager should have group into three categories: creation, development and maintenance.

Creation requires the ability to gather information quickly and produce engaging and targeted written or visual content that represents a brand well and advances the progression of that brand. While being able to produce effective content with relative speed is a large part of the creation competency, a social media manager must also know which content and form are most effective for each platform. For example, brief posts that have immediate or short-term relevance are ideal for Twitter, whereas Facebook allows for (and users have come to expect) lengthier content. So being able to produce content that utilizes the purpose and format of a social media platform is the name of the game.

Then again, if a social media manager doesn’t know who the platform-specific content is supposed to reach, its effectiveness is compromised. “I start with getting grounded in a comprehensive understanding of who our target audience is and what they care about,” says Vanessa Williams, senior manager of integrated strategy and promotions at Ignite Social Media in Cary. This is where development of content (in the areas of audience, brand exposure and sales) comes into play. If a clothing store producing wares for teenage girls is not using Pinterest (or Instagram) and failing to produce image-heavy posts with catchy text on a daily basis, that company will have a difficult time reaching its intended audience and market.

Which is where analytics enter the fray and aid in the development of market-targeting or narrowcasting. “Social media managers … need to be analytical,” Williams says. “They need to be able to interpret quantitative and qualitative data to determine what is working …  [and] bubble up social results into metrics that matter for the business.” Those metrics include advertising return on investment or spending, cart value, offline- and online-sales conversions and loyalty program enrollment, Williams says.

The more a social media manager or a business knows about its market, the easier it is to forge relationships; and in a social media world, relationships are king. “One of the great things about social media … is the ability to build one-to-one relationships with your current and potential customers in real time,” Williams says. “Being a helpful resource, surprising and delighting fans, and taking their feedback into consideration can help build relationships and brand loyalty with customers.” The content has to engage those most likely to buy the products or services a company offers, and providing resources for customers to accomplish that can establish relationships with new customers and strengthen those with existing customers.

Lastly, there is the maintenance or the curation of the content produced and the relationships and markets that have been developed. Outside of being able to refine, update and schedule content, the most important aspect of the maintenance competency is discipline. A social media manager needs to be consistent in upholding the quality of content and in tailoring it to meet shifting and burgeoning trends while also adhering to the strategy that has been established. Consistency is paramount in maintaining the relationships that have been developed. As with any system, the components that make it work need attention and discipline drives the maintenance of those components.

Social media is a fundamental part of contemporary sales, marketing and advertising and is only going to become a more integral part of those industries. As a result, companies need those inclined to utilize this dynamic tool, those social media managers about to find their stride.

 

Special thanks to Janet Constantino, Melanie Diehl, Cathy Comella-Ports, Martin Brossman, Karen Tiede, Kerry Mead, Davina Ray and Sasha Fetisova, all of whom contributed to this article.