9 Essential Social Media Marketing Skills You Need to Succeed

Thinking about becoming a social media marketer? We completely understand—it’s a fun, exciting, and ever-growing marketing channel. But do you have the social media marketing skills it takes to be successful? In this article, we’re going to explore the top 9 social media marketing skills you need to absolutely flourish in this field.

If you’re considering a career in social media marketing, you probably already know what it is, so we’re not going to dive deep into a long definition. For those who think it might be something you want to do, here’s what we mean when we talk about social media marketing:

Social media marketing is the use of various social media platforms to create connections, nurture relationships, increase brand awareness, make sales, and get more website traffic. This includes everything from listening to and engaging with followers and potential customers, publishing entertaining and educational content on your social media profiles, running social media ads, and analyzing your social media marketing results.

Social media marketers might work for a social media or digital marketing agency where they get exposure to several brands at once, or you could start your own social media marketing business! Every industry uses social media marketing, so no matter what you’re interested in—retail, education, hospitality, manufacturing, or something else—you’ll find a need for social media marketing skills. But, what are the skills you need to excel at social media marketing? In this article, we’ll walk through the most commonly requested social media marketing skills so you can get to work!


9 Essential Social Media Marketing Skills You Need to Succeed:


Social media marketing needs come in different flavors. You could be a copywriter, strategist, designer, marketer, customer support, analyst… and sometimes all of that in a single day! If you love a good challenge, social media marketing might just be a great fit for you.

To make sure you’re set up for success, we’re going to share the 9 social media marketing skills we’ve found to be the most commonly sought after skills for social media marketers. Don’t have the right skills? Don’t worry! There are tons of educational programs and learning opportunities that will help you learn the social media marketing skills you’re missing.

One of the things we love most about social media marketing is that there are always opportunities for growth and learning. In fact, the more time you spend developing these social media marketing skills, the more valuable you’re going to be to employers and clients. That means you’ll be better equipped to drive the results that will make a real impact on your business.

Here are the social media marketing skills you need to rock this role:

1. Creativity

As social media becomes more and more saturated with users and marketers, it’s harder to build successful and impactful marketing campaigns. If you want to stand out from what everyone else is doing, you’ll need the creativity to constantly come up with shiny and new ideas to engage your target audience.

Some social media networks, like Facebook, are taking steps to focus on “meaningful relations” between people who actually know one another instead of letting businesses push tons of posts and ads with branded content. This makes sense from a mission perspective for the platforms making this shift, but it’s bad news for marketers.

It makes it that much harder to get your business found and noticed on these platforms. Creative social media marketers can look for ways to keep their audience engaged.

MoonPie is a phenomenal example of using creativity in social media marketing. Its Twitter feed is filled with quips, funny images, and customer engagement. But, one of our favorite MoonPie tweets that shows the true creativity behind its social media team is this tweet:

MoonPies and flowcharts don’t go together. And yet, here they are.

How to Improve Creativity

One of the most interesting ways we’ve found to boost creativity is Edward De Bono’s “Thinking Hats” practice. This involves wearing 6 figurative (or literal, if you’d rather) hats of different colors and focusing on looking at something from the perspective that goes with each hat’s color. Here’s how they break down:

  • White: Use facts and figures to come up with ideas.
  • Black: Use negatives or controversy to come up with ideas.
  • Red: Use emotions to come up with ideas.
  • Yellow: Use positives or agreement to come up with ideas.
  • Green: Focus on outside-the-box thinking and alternate solutions to come up with ideas.
  • Blue: Take stock of what you have and use it to come up with ideas.

2. Writing

Writing is one of the most important social media marketing skills you can have. Writing is at the core of digital communication, no matter whether you’re crafting a simple post, an ad, or writing a script for a new video. It all comes back to high-quality writing.

Social media marketers must be great communicators. You’re responsible for creating and growing your brand’s voice across social media platforms. This could be through customer service responses, talking directly to followers and potential customers, and creating that all-important ad copy that grabs viewers’ attention and drives them to action.

Social media marketers will also need to change their writing to reach different segments of their target audiences on different social media platforms. This includes things like knowing the content type and length that will best reach the parts of your audience on each platform. Do your Instagram followers like longer captions? What kind of content works best for your Twitter followers? Should you use GIFs?

In addition to creating content for social media, if you work for an agency you may be asked to flex your writing skills outside of social media marketing. Many businesses run a company blog that you may be asked to contribute to. Even outside of writing for marketing, though, working involves writing.

How to Improve Writing Skills

If you’re interested in improving your writing skills, the best thing you can do is to write every day. You can write about anything, and should! Don’t limit yourself to just writing the same type of content or copy that you produce all the time, anyway. This is your chance to flex your writing muscle. Just make sure you do it every day.


3. Communication

Social media is all about communication. It just makes sense that having exceptional communication skills would be one of the social media marketing skills you need to achieve success in this field.

Communication skills don’t just involve communicating with your target audience on social media platforms, though. You also need to be able to communicate with your team, customers, and your boss if you have one. Being able to switch between these different types of communication quickly is going to make you even more valuable.

How to Improve Communication Skills

Practicing active listening is a great way to improve your communication skills. Active listening means paying attention to what people are saying, giving them affirmative replies to encourage their communication, and asking follow up questions to show that you’re paying attention to what they’re saying and not just sort of listening while you formulate what you’re going to say next.

Active listening extends to social media too, with social listening. When you’re reading through communications with your brand, really take the time to absorb what the person is saying. Then, intentionally decide if you have enough information to respond. If you don’t, ask a question! This might make your communications take a little longer, but your followers will be much more engaged with your brand.


4. Organization and Time Management

Another important skill is actually two social media marketing skills in one: organization and time management. As a social media marketer, you’ll need to juggle multiple tasks and projects in the course of a single day. This requires good time management and organization.

Social media marketing has several moving parts. You’ll need to come up with ideas and plan out new campaigns, create content and copy for those campaigns, engage with users across platforms, and more.

How to Improve Organization and Time Management Skills

There are two things you can do to keep things organized and better manage your time: a list and a schedule. Take the time at the beginning of your day to list out everything you need to do. Then, plan out how much time you’re going to give to each task (and when) over the course of your day.

We also highly recommend creating and using a social media calendar to keep your content organized so you can plan ahead and stay in front of your tasks.


5. Traditional & Digital Marketing

Social media marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s a combination of marketing, sales, and customer support. In order to be successful at social media marketing, you need these skills as well as traditional marketing and digital marketing skills to draw on.

When you can use traditional and digital marketing skills in addition to social media marketing skills, you’ll be better able to develop a strong social media marketing strategy that supports your business’s goals. This can set you apart from other social media marketers who only seek to expand their social media marketing skills and don’t see the value in traditional or digital marketing strategies like email, lead generation, public relations, live or online events, and more.

How to Improve Marketing Skills

There is no shortage of free and paid marketing courses around. We recommend taking a look at HubSpot Academy, Coursera, or Skillshare as well as books from marketing influencers and thought leaders like Seth Godin and Malcolm Gladwell.


6. Customer Support

You may be wondering why we’re considering customer support to be a valuable social media marketing skill. It’s actually more closely related to marketing than you may think. Plus, many businesses make sure that their customer support specialists know the features inside and out so they can recommend upgrades and ensure that users are getting the full potential from the product or service.

Nike doesn’t a really great job of providing customer support on social media with its Team Nike account:

Nike customers can reach out any time and get a personalized response to their concerns.

Research from the Institute of Customer Service shows that one-third of customers turn to social media to seek advice or communicate with a business. And, according to Smart Insights, 63% of customers expect companies to offer customer support through social media As a social media marketer, you’ll need to listen to customer concerns, questions, and praise and respond to those comments in a way that meets customer needs, solves their problems, and turns them into lifelong fans.

How to Improve Customer Support Skills

To provide the best possible customer support through your social media platforms, you’ll need to start with a thorough understanding of the business and product. From there, it’s all about listening, responding as a human and not a corporation, and staying positive.


7. Building Relationships

It should come as no surprise that social media is social. Making connections and building relationships is a core requirement for any social media marketer. When you consider that 39% of customers only trust brands if they’ve interacted with them on social media, it’s clear that taking the time to cultivate relationships is important.

If you’re a social media marketer (or an aspiring one), you probably love talking to people and making these connections. And there’s no shortage of people to reach.

National Geographic uses their Instagram account to build relationships through user-generated content like this:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Photo by @moisessaman | The shores of the Dead Sea from the beach at one of the empty tourist hotels during lockdown. The Dead Sea is referred to in the Bible as the “salt sea.” It doesn't play a major role but is referred to in Chronicles II 20 and in Ezekiel. I am not a very religious person, but it seems appropriate to reference the biblical quality of the scope and proportion of this pandemic. Not unlike the plagues described in the Old Testament, the coronavirus has decimated everything in its path, reminding us how small and fragile we are, and what an end to civilization might look like. Inspired by these parallels, I found myself photographing some of the ancient biblical sites in Jordan, searching for allegories that could help make sense of the anxious times we are all living through.

A post shared by National Geographic (@natgeo) on

How to Improve Relationship Skills

Work on building relationships with colleagues and influencers as well as your social media followers. You’ve already worked on some of the skills that go into relationship building, but here are some steps to take to further develop your skills:

  1. Develop your communication and active listening skills
  2. Practice empathy by putting yourself in the other person’s position
  3. Understand and develop emotional intelligence
  4. Seek out feedback

8. Strategic Thinking

As a social media marketer, you need to be able to see the big picture and stay ahead of challenges and opportunities. That’s where strategic thinking comes in.

Strategic thinking is all about finding, collecting, and processing information about your followers. This will give you a much better understanding of your customers and how they move through your marketing funnels so you can create social media strategies and tactics that will boost brand awareness, increase sales, and drive more traffic to your website.

How to Improve Strategic Thinking Skills

In his book, How to Think Strategically: Sharpen Your Mind, Develop Your Competency, Contribute to Success, Greg Githens discusses 20 micro-skills of strategic thinking. He calls it the Ben Franklin Technique and it’s an excellent tactic you can use to increase your strategic thinking skills.

Essentially, you choose a micro-skill to focus on each week, looking at everything through that lens and seeking out ways to use that micro-skill in everything you do. So, one week you may focus on curiosity and really push yourself to get out of your comfort zone and learn. Then, the next week, your focus is on ambition and you look at everything you do each day in terms of the impact it has on the world and people around you.


9. Analytical Thinking

Let’s say that you’ve taken steps to improve the skills we’ve already mentioned. How do you know if it’s paying off in your social media marketing? All of the skills in the world aren’t going to mean anything if you can’t see how they’re helping your business.

That’s where the last social media marketing skill on our list comes in: analytical thinking.

Where strategic thinking is a process that determines how people think about, assess, view, and create the future for themselves and others, analytical thinking is what helps you gather, organise, visualise, and understand data. In other words, strategic thinking is broad, and analytical thinking is detailed.

In social media marketing, you’ll be bombarded with data every day. You’ll find out interesting facts about your target audience, get intel about what your competitors are doing, and collect feedback on your social media marketing campaigns. But, what do you do with that data? Without analytical skills, you won’t be able to process the data you get and turn it into something you can use to create better social media campaigns. Even if you do have a social media analytics tool to make the data easy to access.

How to Improve Analytical Thinking Skills

You can improve your analytical thinking skills by playing games! Brain games like Sudoku, Scrabble, crossword and logic puzzles, or even playing strategy board games are effective, easy ways to up your analytical thinking skills and have fun doing it.


Level Up Your Social Media Marketing Skills for Success

Social media is an important marketing channel and requires a lot of hard work and dedication. As a social media marketer, you have a lot of control over how your brand is positioned and how it performs across social media platforms.

The social media marketing skills we’ve outlined here will turn you into a social media marketing machine and set you up for success no matter whether you work for someone else or go into business for yourself.

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