One of the newest but also most exciting and sought after job roles out there is that of social media professional. Pretty much unheard of even just a decade ago, the position of social media marketer now sits in pride of place in marketing departments all around the world. From developing various strategies such as getting a video to go viral, social business professionals enjoy diverse careers that are fun and entertaining. Perhaps for that reason, many are looking to enter this field. Writing for Mashable, Erica Swallow (2010) says of social media marketing:
“Marketers are blazing trails in the social media marketing sector, creating campaigns that are interactive, shareable and inclusive of the online community. For the most innovative of marketers, the focus isn’t on campaigns, but on letting consumers take the reins in guiding a brand’s social presence”.
This requires a certain skill set. The social media marketer has a set of characteristics that are quite unique that pertain to the artistic and scientific fields. On one hand their character is similar to the one of the scientists: they can think and express themselves clearly through logic, have excellent analytical capabilities and are used to measure and analyse charts and metrics. On the other hand, they have a strong artistic soul that is creative, flexible, and brave enough to follow their intuition, by trying out passionately new things.
While the relative newness of this position means that what organisations are looking for in hires here is constantly changing and adapting to meet the emerging trends of social business, there is somewhat of a set of requirements of social media marketers in being able to achieve the role that Swallow outlines. Relatively constant skills are required in this competitive field and those are:
1. Writing prowess
All good social media professionals know how to write. In fact they not only know how to write, they know how to do it very well indeed. They are able to grasp quickly the tone and style that their audience will be most responsive to and they can engage their target market with the topics they choose and the ways that they write about them. This applies whether the writing is a 140 word tweet or whether it is a 700 word informational blog post. The skill is the same.
Social media marketers and other professionals in their field are both intuitive and empathic. They can put themselves firmly in the shoes of their target customers and use content in such a way that they show that they really understand the key issues. Whether through writing a white paper, posting a video created by someone else that is highly relevant, or sharing a status, talented social business professionals have a sense for what’s important right now, which is gleaned from their finely tuned skills of empathy and intuition.
3. Sees patterns
The skilled social media marketer can see what’s going on and understand what’s really of interest to their target audience. These patterns may not be immediately obvious to others, but they help social marketers to be able to shape what they do to be much more appealing to their audience than might otherwise have been possible.
4. Up to date
Social business is a new field and it is evolving arguably faster than any other. It’s not enough to be good at handling social media on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. The talented social media professional will also be able to spot what else is being used and get in there and start creating a presence on those platforms. This involves also being able to pick out the wheat from the chaff. Not every social media platform created is going to be a great success, and some will be more relevant to certain businesses than others. Knowing what’s what is key to success in this field.
5. Quick learner
Along with number 4 above, the ability to pick up how to use new websites and technologies quickly is fundamental, since everything is morphing all of the time. Just as soon as you are used to one way of working you can be sure another will have to be mastered.
Social media professionals that are the most successful have a plan, but they also are flexible enough to be able to deviate from that when the situation demands. And it demands. Often.
Last but not least, one of the most important skills that you’ll need to be able to operate effectively in social business is so-called “netiquette”. David Chiles, author of The Principles of Netiquette says that you have to be able to “Participate and reciprocate online. It’s good netiquette to reply to comments and posts”.
Paula Newton is a business writer, editor and management consultant with extensive experience writing and consulting for both start-ups and long established companies. She has ten years management and leadership experience gained at BSkyB in London and Viva Travel Guides in Quito, Ecuador, giving her a depth of insight into innovation in international business. With an MBA from the University of Hull and many years of experience running her own business consultancy, Paula’s background allows her to connect with a diverse range of clients, including cutting edge technology and web-based start-ups but also multinationals in need of assistance. Paula has played a defining role in shaping organizational strategy for a wide range of different organizations, including for-profit, NGOs and charities. Paula has also served on the Board of Directors for the South American Explorers Club in Quito, Ecuador.