5 Not So Obvious Skills A Social Media Manager Needs

We speak to people every day who are hoping to find work in social media and digital marketing. When looking for a social media job it is important to keep in mind the skills that are required for success, and honestly evaluate where you stack up in terms of your skills vs. the skills required for success.

While experience and passion for social media are a must, there are some other more surprising skills that can lead to success in social media marketing.  If you are looking for a job in social media, keep these skills in mind and consider opportunities to acquire training or education on the areas that you may be lacking.

1. Analytic Skills

Many social media marketers naturally have great people skills and a knack for creative writing.  The best social media marketers have an inherent understanding of what their customers are interested in.

But in order to be successful, it is extremely important to have strong analytic skills in addition to creative and social skills. Social media is relatively new, and it is extremely important to test and learn, and evaluate your social media marketing efforts.  To this end, being able to set up tests and find creative ways to measure the results is vital to the success of a social media marketer.

2. Search Engine Optimization

Many people claim to know SEO, but don’t really understand more than how to edit title tags.  Search engines will always be a big source of revenue driving traffic for any business, and understanding how they work and linking this to your social media is crucial.

Any solid social media strategy will include awareness of the impact on search engines.  Take some time to really understand how search engines work and how social media sites impact search engines.

3. Real Life People Skills

Social media is all online right? Why do you have to have real life people and networking skills?  The reality is that in most companies, social media relationships eventually translate in to a real life meeting.  For example, you manage social media for a company that is planning a big trade show.  You should be attending the trade show to interact with the thought leaders and bloggers that you connect with online.

Nothing replaces the depth of a real life connection.

Successful social media marketers have to be able to build connections in the real world as well as online for long-term success.

4. Internal Communication and Influence Abilities

One of the key roles of a social media manager is to understand the needs of the community (customers or potential future customers)  and to communicate these needs back into the company internally.  Some organizations have a specific job title for this.  The idea is that the social media manager should advocate for the community and communicate internally what they are hearing in the social media world.
This position requires strong communication skills, the ability to influence and the ability to be tactful in providing feedback.  A social media manager can quickly start to sound like a broken record who is on “the site” of the customer vs. the company.  The two should be the same, and a great community manager or social media manager will know how to get things done.

5. A Passion for Your Product and Mission

Some people will argue this one, but it is absolutely important for someone to have a passion for your product and the mission of your organization if they are going to represent you online.  It is tough for someone to talk to people about a product that they don’t use or care about.

I worked with a client in the pet care space, and one of the brand managers would occasionally connect with people online.  The problem was that he didn’t have a pet, and at a certain point in the relationship, they would ask him about his pet.  He immediately lost credibility with them – how could he be talking to them about pets and loving pets when he doesn’t have one?

The best community managers can really understand your audience and your product.


Do you know of any less obvious skills that are required for success as a social media manager?

5 Mistakes in Finding a Job in Social Media

I train thousands of people each year in social media marketing.  Many of them are seasoned professionals in the field while others are hoping to break it.  Social media is a new and emerging field, and most people in the industry are not yet very experienced.

When I began working in social media 5 years ago we were one of the first companies on Twitter and we primarily focused on social network marketing on MySpace.  It seems that everyone with a Twitter account claims to be an expert citing as much as 10 years of experience in the field.

If you are looking for a position in social media marketing, here are some tips that many people make when attempting to enter the world of social media marketing.

1. Not Investing in Your Skills

This is a big one.  When I got in to social media I invested thousands of dollars in attending conferences and even more in coaching and meeting the experts. Many of the people who want to work in social media don’t attend social media training and don’t bother to attend industry conferences where they can learn from the best.

Read blogs, learn from others and invest in your skills.  Many social media marketers are arrogant – I know it all, why would I learn from that person! – yet you can always continue to learn, especially in a field that evolves so quickly.

I continue to learn from those in the industry to keep my skills sharp.

2. Not Getting Experience

If you want to work in social media, get some legitimate experience. I can’t tell you how many people I talk to who have barely joined Twitter who want to get hired as a consultant or as an employee in social media. People shouldn’t have to pay you to learn (unless they agree to it upfront).

Volunteer for a non-profit or do an internship in social media.  Find a legitimate way to get some real experience with results that you can point to across platforms (Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, etc).

3. Assuming it is Easy

Social media marketing is harder than ever.  There is so much clutter on Facebook and Twitter and in blogs that you really have to have a solid plan and great content in order to break through the noise and connect with your customers.

Many experienced social media practitioners find this difficult.

Just because you can set up a Facebook fan page (which anyone can do) doesn’t mean that you can market a company on it.  It is harder than ever to get real results.

4. Overselling their Skills

The joke with social media is that everyone is an expert…. the same is true with many areas of internet marketing.  I have interviewed many people for digital marketing positions, and many candidates who claim to be experts in an area like Search Engine Optimization or Online Advertising don’t even know the basics.

When you oversell your skills you lose credibility, and you may wind up in a job that you are not really qualified for.  Just because you know a little bit about an area, don’t claim to be an expert. Understand where your gaps are and take steps to fill them.  You don’t have to know everything about all aspects of internet marketing.  Know what you don’t know and invest in yourself to acquire the needed skills.

5. Not Having Passion

Passion for social media and internet marketing are key. The reality is that they change so quickly, that it is more important to stay up-to-date than in other areas of marketing.  If you are passionate about social media, digital marketing or internet marketing this will come very naturally to you.

I’ve trained many people who aren’t really passionate about social media and don’t actually like connecting with people.  They tend to be less successful in the long-run because their skills quickly become out-of-date.

Be passionate about what you do – whatever it is – and you will be much better at it.

The 5 Minute Guide to Getting a Job in Social Media

This great infographic below is an interesting 5 minute guide for getting a job in social media. It may take you more than 5 minutes to read, but it includes some great high-level tips to navigating the social media job space!