I have a friend who runs a pretty successful business and is currently looking for someone to manage his social media channels. And because my job involves a lot of social media (and probably because I’m obviously all wise and stuff), he asked for my advice on how to find the right person for the job.
But the thing is, I really didn’t know how to answer. Social media management is a fairly new career and to be honest, it’s a weird job. There are times when I’m making cat gifs or creating a blog post dedicated to Kim Kardashian’s ugly crying face and I question WTF I’m doing with my life. For that reason, and because social media is constantly evolving, it can be pretty difficult to nail down the exact key characteristics of a talented social media manager.
So I went away, had a think, did some research and have come up with a few opinions on what makes someone ‘good at social media’. I’m by no means an expert and it’s not like I’m a world renowned digital marketing guru by any stretch, but social media is my passion. I spend a lot of time posting, finding stuff to post or reading about social media trends (I’m clearly a joy to be around.) So I like to think I have a few somewhat useful ideas that might help if you’re recruiting a social media manager or if you’re on the lookout for a digital career yourself.
1. You NEED to be funny
Social media is a social. Yes, people visit Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc to connect with people and read about news and world events, but most of the time, we hit up those apps because we’re bored and we want to be entertained. A good social media manager should be able to create content that stops people scrolling and entertains them so much that they need to share it. That’s how content goes viral – if it makes your audience FEEL something. If your social media manager is quick witted their humour will bring your brand down to earth and make it much more relatable. Of course, this depends on the brand; humour is going to be pretty inappropriate if you’re a funeral director, but there are very few brands in the world that wouldn’t benefit from a little lightheartedness.
Innocent Drinks are an excellent example of this. They’re just always switched on and I’m constantly scrolling through their Twitter account to see what I can learn from them.
2. You need some editorial or journalistic skills
A huge mistake that many businesses make is hiring an intern or a young family member to look after the social media channels because they assume that a young person should be good with technology and all that computery stuff. Needless to say, this is a gigantic mistake. Social media provides an online face for your brand and it can be dangerous to leave it in the hands of someone inexperienced. There have been instances when an accidentally offensive hashtag or a simple typo have ruined a brand’s image.
A good social media manager should have some editorial skills. They should have knowledge of what kind of language and material is appropriate online and they also need to be able to write, tell a story and source engaging content.
3. You need to be an expert… or at least be interested in social media
If you want to be good at social media, you gotta get passionate about it. You need to be on top of trends and you need to know the ins and outs of every single social media channel. If you are interviewing someone who doesn’t know that you can schedule Facebook posts or if someone claims to be a pro at Facebook ads but hasn’t heard of Jon Loomer, open the door and ask them to leave. Likewise, if they say “I don’t actually use any social media, myself.” kick them down the stairs and lock the front door.
A good social media manager should have a sense of fluency with the functionality of each platform. They should be aware of how Facebook is different from Twitter and how Twitter is different from Instagram as this helps a brand stay ahead of the curve.
4. You should be able to prove your worth
Regardless of whether someone has had a digital marketing/social media job in the past, they should still be able to demonstrate their experience and success on social media – even if it’s a meme you created on your own private Facebook profile which got hundreds of Likes and Shares. Social media is free for everyone to use and there’s nothing stopping you creating engaging content and experimenting with your own accounts. If someone can not show you examples of how they’ve used social media, they are not passionate enough.
5. You need a solid awareness of pop culture
The most engaging content on social media is relevant and timely and it’s always beneficial to a brand if they can jump on a trending news topic or a hashtag in a dynamic way. To be able to do that, a social media manager needs to know what’s going on in the world around them. You need to have a broad awareness of news, politics, celebrities, music, films, books etc to create content that works in the fast paced world of social media.
To give you an example of this, earlier this week when Melania Trump was trending for plagiarising Michelle Obama’s speech, I went straight on Canva and made a meme for Uni Baggage‘s Facebook page. It was timely and the way I used it made it relevant to our audience of students.
6. You need marketing knowledge/ the ability to analyse data
It’s all well and good being able to create social media content that goes viral and gets tons of engagement but if there’s no strategy behind it and if you’re not measuring its impact, then all value is lost. You need to know what every like, share, comment, retweet or follow means for the brand. There needs to be purpose behind everything you post. You must be able to produce reports that measure metrics that matter and help the brand constantly move forward. You need to be able to measure social media ROI and align your efforts with overall corporate goals. This is the difference between social media and social media marketing.
7. You’ll need some design skills
Most social media channels are extremely visual and the posts that perform best in terms of reach and engagement usually include dynamic content, like a picture or a video. For that reason, you need to be able to create that kind of content yourself, as you can’t just steal it from someone else – that’s lazy, not to mention illegal.
You don’t need to be a pro-graphic designer or a whizz with PhotoShop, just some basic skills will do. I personally use Canva to create free graphics. I’m so addicted to this app, it’s bordering on a problem. Whenever I think of something funny, I’m straight onto the iPhone app, turning it into a meme. (Like I said, I’m a joy to be around.) Here’s an example of something ridiculously basic I created this week which drove some impressive results.
8. You need to be observational and empathetic
As mentioned briefly in the first point, content that generates the best results does so because it makes the audience feel something. It doesn’t really matter what it makes them feel – whether you’re making them laugh, cry, inspiring them or teaching them something new, if you’re giving them emotional value, your content is 10x more likely to gain momentum and go viral.
There is no secret to being able to do this and unfortunately I truly believe that it can’t really be taught. You need to have a kind of empathy that’s instinctive. You need to be able to get to know your audience as well as your own family and friends. For example, there are times when I’m scrolling through Twitter and I come across a story and I think: “I HAVE to share that on Uni Baggage’s channel, the followers will love it!”, just like when I see a funny video of a dog and have to tag my boyfriend underneath it.