Social Business, Social Media Staffing and Operations

The New Skill Every Social Media Marketer Must Possess

Snapshot 1:19:13 1:38 PMJay Baer Blog PostIn The NOW Revolution, Amber Naslund and I predicted that social media would become a skill rather than a job. As companies take more steps to “be” social, and incorporate social business initiatives alongside the more common and obvious social media marketing programs, employees from all divisions and departments will utilize “social” to be more effective, the same way they have historically used telephones, email and in-person meetings. This is happening, and my Social Pros podcast interview with Sandy Carter from IBM is a good case history of how big organizations are often leading the way in implementing social as an ingredient in many business recipes.

Companies will fully embrace this movement.

Social at work will become always around us like air, instead of something you have to seek out like water. (tweet this)

But even then, there will still be specialists that oversee or execute social media marketing as a primary part of their job function. The skills needed by this group are changing rapidly.

What Skills Does A Social Media Manager Need to Be Successful?

Just two years ago, the formula for a great social media or community manager was excellent communication skills, comfort with technology, knowledge of the organization and empathy.

18 months ago, when social measurement and ROI calculation became (thankfully) a requirement for most social marketing programs, a heavy dose of comfort with statistics and Excel became a best practice in the community manager job description.

Now, there’s a new requirement for many community or social managers, especially those who are running programs for mid-sized companies on a solo or nearly solo basis (and there are a LOT of those circumstances out there, far more than heavily staffed social media centers of excellence or command centers). Now, to be a “do it all” social media practitioner you must have some experience and expertise with photography and graphics production.

I’m not talking about professional grade computer graphics wizardry, but with Facebook’s EdgeRank and Google’s G+ favoring photos and graphics, plus the increasing influence of Instagram and Pinterest, effective social marketers increasingly must create and propagate images that get attention. There are a number of software packages that help create simple, disposable social media images, so this shift in job skills is less about producing graphics than it is about thinking graphically. Editorial calendars that were once full of pithy tweets and concise status updates increasingly contain graphics instead.

A picture may not be worth 1,000 words, but it’s definitely worth 140 characters. (tweet this)

Snapshot 1:19:13 1:27 PMB2B marketing software company Marketo is a particularly good example of this shift, as their Facebook page has moved in the last few months from mostly text to almost entirely graphics. They create a series of different graphics on a regular editorial schedule (this consistency is also a best practice on Facebook; where brand pages are becoming similar to digital magazines).

In addition to text graphics based on quotes, they execute humorous photo overlays and create images for Webinars and other thought leadership, so that those items stand out in the news feed visually. Smart.
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Are your social and community managers thinking visually? If not, it’s probably time to invest in some additional training in that area, and the same holds true for agencies (PR, digital, social or otherwise) that are using staff members to manage social on behalf of clients.

What other skills do community managers need today? How else is this role shifting?