Looking for a social media manager or wanting to become one? These skills for social media managers are practically requirements!
Social media managers can be an enormous asset to all businesses, brands, and organizations. After all, most brands are now expected to post regularly on up to seven platforms, come up with social strategies, manage engagement, and track success. And social media managers have to do all that while they keep up with ever-changing social media features and algorithms.
For a company to ask one of its team members to tackle this is too much if they’re in any other role in that company. But they need one for the overwhelming amount of good a social media manager can do.
Social media managers help connect brands with their audience, promote business, and provide significant long-term benefits that absolutely include a boost in sales.
Unfortunately, social media management often is something that a company with a limited budget often relegates to an intern for a low cost. It’s actually extremely important that a company doesn’t do this. An organization needs a true professional who understands strategy and its brands. (Otherwise, a misstep here could land it in a major PR crisis before you even know what happened.)
Qualifications for a Social Media Manager
Hiring the right social media manager, however, can be tricky. A company will find plenty of impressive resumes, lots of agencies with fancy websites, and contractors with a big list of clients. So, how does a company choose the right one? What are the qualifications for a good social media manager?
To get the most out of a social media manager, hiring the right one matters a great deal! (We know that better than anyone.)
So let’s take a look at the 10 skills all social media managers must have if they’re going to excel.
1. Advanced social strategy abilities
Strategy matters. This is easily the most important reason why a company shouldn’t hire a college-aged intern just because that person is extremely active on social.
What gets a ton of likes for a personal page isn’t necessarily likely to get the same engagement on a business page. And even if it were to get a ton of engagement (everyone loves cute puppy pictures, after all), that doesn’t mean that it will do anything to help promote a brand or drive meaningful results.
And it’s not enough to just share posts that do well. A company wants to have content strategically optimized to drive real results. This should include …
- Expanding overall reach
- Establishing brand awareness and recognition
- Lead generation
- Product or service sales
- Nurturing an engaged community
Someone with social strategy knowledge should be able to develop or alter a strategy specifically for your business. That includes, for example, the ability to know which hashtags to use on Instagram (and how many), when to host a social media contest, and what types of posts your audience will respond to.
For this reason, it’s essential to hire someone with a proven track record in social media management.
2. Knowledge of social media management tools
Social media management tools will often make a social media manager’s job much more efficient.
These tools will also give you more oversight to see what’s going on, too. Tools like Agorapulse, for example, will give social media managers the option to outsource tasks to other team members or to even flag certain items if they’d like you to review it.
Social media management tools can also significantly expand social media marketing potential. Contest software, for example, allows you to collect lead information instead of just likes. Some tools can automatically find great content from other reputable sites to share on your own site.
Using the right tools, social media managers can make campaigns more impactful, going beyond the native features of a platform. (And if a company is working with a freelance or contract social media manager, that person should come with subscriptions to all of these tools already, passing cost savings onto the company.)
3. Strong and consistent communication skills
Whether a social media manager is an internal staff member or an external contractor, the person needs to be a strong communicator.
Why the emphasis on communication? Because social media managers work with different departments, including:
- Customer service
They also work with supervising managers working on other niches in the marketing field to sync up marketing efforts. A social media manager also may also be managing other members of a social media team or working with graphic designers, video editors, and photographers to get visual content for the platform.
A brand’s social media manager also will communicate regularly and frequently with customers behind a Page’s name, addressing customer concerns and asking questions.
Someone with strong communication skills who is consistently checking in will be essential for this position. (This may be one of the most important skills for social media managers.)
4. Creativity to think outside the box
Social media is like all other forms of marketing … You want to find new ways to stand out and get people excited about your campaigns. When social media content is interesting and a little outside the box, it can create some hype around a brand.
Think about how Wendy’s famously roasts competitors and fans alike on their Twitter account. It’s different, and it’s hilarious.
Here’s another example of a little creativity that goes a long way. Instead of reposting your standard (but still very important) “please wear a mask” post, Xbox put a fun spin on the idea, utilizing their own famous video game characters to reinforce the importance of staying home during the pandemic.
5. Ability to write in a company’s brand voice
Most great brands have a distinct voice, even if it’s “fun and casual.” For some brands, for example, frequent humor or a sense of wit is a core part of their brand voice.
A company will need to hire a social media manager who is able to naturally and completely adopt your brand voice. This person will be on the front lines of reaching customers, after all, and create content for multiple major social media platforms. Many users perceive social media as the place where a brand can be its “most authentic.” So if they’re trying to get to know a brand, the voice on social content is what they’ll judge.
Before hiring someone or assigning them to the role, a company can ask them create a few sample posts for you to look at. If they aren’t able to nail the voice 100% after a revision with feedback, they might not be the perfect candidate that you need.
6. Research skills to fact-check and stay up to date on social best practices
Asocial media manager should have strong researching skills for two key reasons:
- To research what they’re posting
- To research social media in general
We all know that misinformation is a massive problem on social media right now. It’s important that a social media manager be able to double-check information before sharing it, no matter what the topic is. They should also be able to do research on their own to look up any information they may need about your products to answer customer questions.
It’s also essential to note that social media changes rapidly.
If a social media manager isn’t staying on top of the news, this person will miss an algorithm update that quietly rolls out and ends up decimating a company’s organic reach. (By staying on top of trends and news, a social media manager will be able to prepare for algorithm changes in advance.)
7. Understanding of analytics and reporting
All marketers should value analytics and reporting.
Analytics will tell a social media manager what campaigns are working on each social platform. And over time, a social media manager will be able to detect trends and patterns that yield actionable information. You can use this data to optimize your campaigns moving forward, maximizing your social media impact.
A social media manager should be familiar with native analytics and reporting, too.
Bonus points if they’re familiar with third-party analytics tools, too. In addition to understanding how to find the information they need, they should also be able to create reports that detail progress towards your business’s goals.
(If a company is looking for a social media strategist specifically, this checklist of 20 questions to ask social media strategists can help sift through the resumes and make sure to choose someone focused heavily on strategy and analytics.)
8. Strong planning abilities
Social media managers are typically going to be balancing multiple business goals at once across multiple social media platforms. They need to think far enough in advance to get campaigns up and running.
So, a social media manager needs to make sure that all content (visual and written) is created, approved, and ready to go. For all the different platforms involved in the social media marketing campaign.
Let’s say that a social media manager wants to do a social media giveaway. This person wants to get prizes from three other businesses in the area.
To do this, multiple steps are involved.
- Getting approval
- Reaching out to the other businesses
- Collecting each prize from each business
- Creating the contest landing pages and rules
- Promoting the contest
This is all planning before the contest even takes place!
If someone isn’t able to plan out a content calendar in advance, things absolutely will slip between the cracks, especially with right-now social media features like Stories that must be uploaded on time.
You can learn more about why it’s so important to plan a cohesive content calendar (and see how to do so) here.
9. Knowledge of social PPC campaigns
A brand may (or may not) have its social media manager taking on paid ad campaigns. Either way, the manager should have a basic understanding of how these campaigns work.
Facebook and Instagram Ads, Twitter Ads, LinkedIn Ads, and Promoted Pins all have demonstrated exceptional value. Even if a social media manager isn’t running PPC campaigns, the manager needs to understand how they work.
The social media manager may be the ones creating or identifying organic posts to boost, for example. They might also be in charge of answering questions that customers leave in the comments sections of an ad.
Knowing how these ad campaigns work and what it means is crucial, even if social media managers aren’t running the ads themselves.
10. Customer service experience
Social media, first and foremost, will always be about community building and relationship building.
After all, social media is increasingly where customers are turning first to learn about a brand or to reach a customer service department. It’s why you see people asking about inventory supply, product ingredients, shipping times, and more. It’s also why you see angry customers complaining about missing or broken orders vocally on posts, ads, and in private messages.
There are high expectations of immediate, excellent service on social media. This is true whether users are reaching out publicly on a business’s Page or privately through direct message.
Every company and brand will want its social media manager to have some sort of hands-on customer experience. That will allow them to tackle this difficult challenge well, ensuring that your customers are well taken care of promptly.
Social media marketing can have a huge impact on a company’s brand. But to see any of the positive results it may hope for, the company needs to have a qualified, experienced social media manager.
This list of 10 essential skills for social media managers is a good place to start when hiring a social media manager or when planning to make a career change to become one.