Everyone thinks they can “do social media.” If someone has a Facebook or Instagram account, they think they're suddenly qualified to be a social media marketer. Today, digital marketing requires a variety of skills just to survive in this ever-changing industry. To do more than survive, but to stand out and shine, these are 7 skills social media marketers need to master. You may have all these skills yourself, or you may team up or hire out for some of them.
Here are 7 skills that I feel every social media marketer needs to stand out:
1. Great writing skills
So, this one seems so obvious, and yet I still feel this is an area most of us are lacking. To write well online is very different from writing essays or text messages. I see horrifying grammar and spelling all over websites and social media posts. This shouldn’t be happening with all the auto-correct tools like Grammarly out there. By-the-way, Grammarly has a free tool that allows you to load your entire post or article to have it checked or you can add the Chrome extension to your browser and have the Grammar Police follow you EVERYWHERE on the web! Find them… use them…and start writing better!
The other side of that coin is the far-too-formal writing. Our English teachers must have beaten us all in school, because most people still write as if they are writing a research paper, instead of speaking to their ideal audience. On Social media or blog posts, it is best to write like you would speak… conversationally. Sit across from the table with a cup of coffee and talk to people through your writing. It’s a social channel, not a term paper. Check out HemingwayApp for tips on making your writing more readable.
2. Customer Service Skills
Someone just asked me today, what skill is hardest to hire for. It is definitely customer service. Everyone is a “people person” in an interview until they have to deal with PEOPLE. In social media marketing, you have to be prepared to take the hits online from people who are hiding behind a keyboard and want to vent. If you work in an agency, you will also have to take the hits from the customers who don’t like something you wrote or the color of the image you’ve used.
When you own a business, you are willing to go further for customers to solve a problem, versus someone who is “just working” on that job. I get it. You have to find people who want the best for clients to be managing your social media. It can get ugly online.
3. Basic SEO Understanding
While you may not know how to optimize your website using tools like SMRush or MOZ, but you should know the basics of SEO as a social media marketer. There are lots of blog posts out there that give more information on this. A great one is Keyword Research for SEO, by Yoast, but there are some basics that you should know if you are writing content for your website or writing any social media content. Know what ALT tags and keywords are. You need to be tagging your images on blog and website content.
You should know what your main keywords and phrases are that you want to be found with. What are the top questions people are typing into Google or other search engines for your industry? What content do you need to write so it comes up as a match to those questions? These are keywords and keyword phrases. You not only want to learn how search engines match your content, to the questions people are typing, but you also should start considering the questions people are SPEAKING into search (Google, Alexa, and Siri).
As you write content always keep your reader or searcher in mind. How are you providing valuable content to answer their questions? What clues are you giving Google on what your content is about? ALT tags give clues in every image, as does the title of that image.
4. An Eye for Design
With all content, we want to make sure it is visually appealing and able to capture someone’s attention in a matter of seconds. People don’t read anymore…they scroll. As social media posts go by, it’s the images that stop the eye traffic. When your images are boring, corny, not sized right, or missing altogether, your content will get fewer eyeballs on it.
There are lots of beautiful photo sites and ways to manipulate them to make them POP. We now have tools like Canva that make creating beautiful graphics a snap. If you don’t have an eye for design, you might be trying to stick 150 words in yellow font across a dark blue square. Stab me in the eyes already! The good news is, there are hundreds of great templates, and you can even take free mini-courses on design right from Canva.
5. An Eye for Details
With so many platforms and so much going on at once, it can be easy to slip up and schedule the wrong content on the wrong platform. Without an eye for detail, you may not catch the misspelling of the company owner's name on a very important blog post. YIKES… it happens. Too many companies still throw the job of social media management to someone who already has 47 tasks to do each day. Most people think social marketing is easy. You might be the person trying to do it all. You know, it can be a full-time job!
Social marketing is about putting your brand out there in front of the world…quickly. You don't have time to have an editing committee review every social post (and I do know for a fact there are such things). Social moves too fast and the posts have a short life span, but you need to have a keen attention to detail. If you're a person who moves fast and doesn't pause before hitting that send, or post button, you'll hear about it from your readers. How do I know this? Well… let's just say with social media, it is going to happen to the best of us. Everyone turns into an editor as soon as they read anyone else’s content, so be sure to re-reads posts, even out loud, one more time before publishing. It will at least cut down the number of times you find that goofy typo right after you hit, SEND.
Details also come in the form of schedules in this industry. There is usually a lot of content going out on different platforms and you may be waiting on graphics or webinar dates and links. Things are best when planned in advance and put on a scheduler with reminders. Using content calendars or team tools like Asana or Trello is almost essential today.
6. Willingness … NO … A BURNING DESIRE to Learn
This skill is probably the most important in social media marketing. Because there are always new tools, platforms, and techniques, you will always have to be learning. It's one thing to be willing to learn, but you must WANT to learn. You must LOVE the process of learning. Don't sit back and wait for someone to spoon-feed you new information. As a marketer today, you must have an insatiable appetite for learning and experimenting.
When I meet someone in this industry, I ask, “what are some of your favorite blogs or podcasts?” If they don’t have an answer, it tells me they won't last long or go very far. It's an industry like few others in that it changes daily and the only way to keep up is to be in a constant learning mode.
A common question is, “What book can I pick up to learn social media?” By the time a digital marketing book is published and sits on the shelf of a bookstore, it's outdated! I was the technical editor for the Complete Idiots Guide to Social Media and as we would finish one chapter, the one prior already needed changes. Conferences, podcasts, videos, classes, and blog posts are the way to keep up in this industry. Stay thirsty my friend!
7. Adventurous Spirit
While this last one isn’t necessarily a SKILL, it is a required attribute for a successful social media marketer. Be willing to pick up and try new things. As you hear of a new platform or tool, jump in and start playing with it. Create accounts to check out how others are using it and what is going on in there. They don’t all pan out, but you will always learn something and you will meet interesting people along the way.
In 2009, I was working with teams at IBM who were meeting in a virtual space called, Second Life. It was the craziest thing I had ever seen. It was amazing and creative. I would log in as an avatar and we could share slides, speak to one another and learn in incredible virtual environments. I met people in there that I still interact with regularly, and have even done business with a few of them. Never hesitate to jump in to take a look at different tools. Be adventurous.
Ok, these are the 7 skills that I have identified. I'd love to hear from you. What other skills do you feel are necessary to be successful in digital marketing? Which of these skills do you need to work on the most? I’d love to know.
As a social media marketing agency in Colorado, we employ a variety of people that possess these skills. If you need to augment your own skillset, give us a call…or a tweet! If you’re interested in learning—jump into our DIYsocial Community where we share regular tips, tools, and resources to help you stay ahead in this social media marketing space.