Many call themselves Social Media Specialists or Strategists these days. How many of them fit the bill?
Do a quick search on LinkedIn Jobs for marketing positions right now and you may find numerous job postings with keywords like:
- social media marketing
- digital marketing
- digital expert
- social influencers
- content marketing
- social media tools
- Social Media Specialist
… and the list goes on. Are any of these terms familiar to you?
As a marketer (now a Social Media Specialist) who stumbled upon the world of social media for business a few years ago, I know very well for a fact that social media marketing for businesses is no longer an option — it is a necessity. Many companies today can no longer survive without a presence on social media because the internet has proliferated and cemented the culture of instant gratification. It’s hard to imagine life today without the internet.
Consumers don’t have to visit brick and mortar stores to make a purchase, they can do that online from the comfort of their own room or even on their daily commute to work. Want to find out the price of a certain gadget? Forget window shopping. You can do that with a simple Google search on your iPhone. Want to make a complaint about the product you’ve just purchased? No need for calls or emails. A Facebook message or comment will give you a response within hours. The truth is: social media networks are rewiring traditional consumer touch points for businesses to interact with their customers and everyone now wants to be in it. Like it or not, it is a necessary evil in our digital world. Reject it and your business runs the risk of becoming obsolete.
I didn’t go to social media school and have only taken short courses from time to time. But I’ve been managing 10 regional social media accounts daily (these exclude my personal accounts) for at least two years now. Social media management is only one subset of my day-to-day marketing responsibilities. If you’re new to social media management and want to hop on the bandwagon, here are some qualities I think you should have.
Social Media Specialists Love social media.
Are you social media savvy? How many personal social media accounts do you own? Are you on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat? In order to manage these accounts for your company, it is important to embrace them on a consumer level. If you’re not a native user of key social media platforms as a consumer, it may be hard handle them on a professional level.
I must say I’m not entirely an early adopter of all things social. To be honest, it’s only been a few months since I’ve started using Snapchat. But if you truly love social media, you’ll learn to embrace all the new ones that come along the way. For example, Facebook changes its algorithms and page features all the time, the best way to keep up to date is to keep a constant presence online.
Social Media Specialists are creative and resourceful.
Not every company has the luxury of hiring positions for social media marketing and creative designers. Some social media specialists have to wear both hats at the same time. You’ve got to have a flair for words and a keen eye for design. If you have these two traits down pat, then the only thing that stands in your way of creating wonderful content is knowledge. Arm yourself with the DNA of your brand and be extremely familiar with your products. And then learn as many content creating platforms as you can to distill them into great communications to your customers.
In the past year, I’ve searched and played around with many free online tools to help me create an array of social media content for our pages. They include visual design platforms like Canva and WeVideo, social media scheduling services like Hootsuite, Spredfast, Later and Crowdfire, and dozens of iPhone apps for photo editing and filters. Not every tool may work out for you, so read tried and tested reviews online. Otherwise, trial and error will be your best buddy. It can be time-consuming at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll realise how much time can be optimised with your favourite tools.
Social Media Specialists are customer oriented
I have my good days on Facebook. And I also have those bad days when I deal with customers who are a little nastier and act like a service or freebie is their entitlement and birthright. Sometimes, they drive me up the wall. But as the old adage goes, “The customer is always right.”
Social media marketing isn’t just about creating beautiful content for your Facebook timeline and Instagram catalogue. What goes behind the scenes of social media marketing also includes the daily management of customer queries. While not every social media manager can handle complaints in a tongue-in-cheek manner like Skyscanner did, always be sure to maintain a positive tone in all your replies. Never, ever do what KLM did. People fail to recognise that part of social media management also encompasses customer service and recovery. If your company, like most businesses, prefers to run these two departments independently, then it’s your job to be that middleman between the customer and your customer care division.
And because social media platforms are real-time, so should you. #ICYMI: Social media marketing is a 24/7 job. Queries should ideally be replied to within 24 hours. But guess what? Automation can be your good friend on social media! Facebook for Pages has a great Response Assistant feature that buys you extra response time by providing customised, automatic replies to any user who sends you a message. This has been my personal favourite and a lifesaver all the time.
Being customer oriented also means going the extra mile. I once faced an incredibly upset customer who was unhappy with his experience at our service centre and he wrote a nice, long essay to us on Facebook Messenger. After some internal fact-finding, I gave the customer a call to hear out his side of the story personally. It was a 30-minute conversation during my lunch hour, following which, I had a long chat with our service team and came to an agreement on how we can appropriately handle the case with a win-win solution.
Bottom line: Social media marketing isn’t just about acquiring new customers and leads; it is also about retaining them and creating that brand loyalty which will contribute to longer-term sales results.
Social Media Specialists are data driven.
It’s the era of big data and social media analytics is no exception. Data gives you insights into the progress of your social media strategy and tactics. It also shows you what types of content work better with your audience. Management teams in businesses look at top line numbers and ROI on business spending all the time. Since social media expense is one of the many line items of a business’s spending, it is then essential for social media managers to quantify social media efforts as well.
Facebook and Instagram Insights offer some substantial amount of statistics into things like post engagements and page following. If you’re open to more detailed reports, SimplyMeasured has one of the best free reports I have chanced upon to date. They cover virtually every social media platform.
If you have a web store, use UTM parameters and Google Analytics to track where your digital footprint is originating from. Once you set up your URL with the UTM parameters, employ free URL shortener tools like Bit.ly that offers data on the number of clicks each link has generated.
Social Media Specialists Love the brand and business you are representing.
This is a no-brainer. If you don’t eat, sleep and breathe your brand and its products, then you’ll find it hard to sell the business to your target audience. It is crucial to believe and buy into your brand. You’ll be amazed at the trickled down effect of all the good vibes you translate to your customers in your daily work as a social media manager.
If you don’t, you will most probably have a tougher time performing your routine social media work tasks because you cannot identify with the brand and its offerings. I have spent almost six years in a business I knew absolutely nothing about when I first started out, and today I cannot imagine my life without it. I love the brand and I’m proud to be a part of it.
In a nutshell, social media is a full-time job. Learning to operate these platforms is equivalent to picking up a hard skill on the job. By marrying your software know-how with the soft skills and qualities outlined above, I’m sure you’ll be on your way to becoming a social media expert or one of the elite social media specialists.
About the author: Ada’s work as a regional marketing and communications specialist at Sennheiser has enabled me to grow as an open and outgoing skilled communicator with the ability to distill big ideas down into actions. She has the opportunity to wear many hats and work alongside brilliant trade and media professionals, as well as renowned musicians in the global audio industry and rub shoulders with numerous sound experts.