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Published July 4th 2024

Social Media Manager Skills: Essential Abilities for Success in 2024

Equip yourself with the winning tools and strategies to excel in social media management.

Strong social media manager skills are crucial in a world with a constantly evolving digital landscape.

After all, social media plays a major role in how successful brands and businesses are represented. When working as a social media manager, you need a diverse skillset that is more than just keeping multiple accounts updated.

This article will explore the key skills every social media manager needs to possess in order to be successful in their social media efforts.

Remember, a great social media manager needs the ability to understand and analyze data to develop strategic plans which resonates more with your user. It’s not enough to simply create engaging content.

Being across data analysis isn’t an easy task, especially when you’re juggling multiple social media channels and clients who are all seeking measurable results.

The necessary skills needed range from powerful storytelling and understanding analytics, to strategic planning. All of these are key in helping you streamline your processes to produce consistent results.

Fundamentals of social media management

To work as a social media manager, you need to master a range of fundamental skills to appropriately manage your company’s online presence.

We'll look at these skills more closely later in this guide. Here are some other fundamentals that you need to master:

Operating multiple social media accounts

A successful social media manager needs a clear grasp of the different social media platforms, as well as their unique features.

If you can master the art of content creation, for example, that will go a long way to making sure your brand is visually appealing online. It may also save your business or department time and money if you can both create and manage content.

Staying consistent

However, one of the core fundamentals when doing this is to stay consistent with your brand. Users loves familiarity, so consistency in your content will foster brand loyalty and keep them engaged for longer periods of time.

There are tools like Canva, Adobe Spark, and others that will help you develop the necessary skills to achieve this, which we'll explore later.

Communicate correctly

The next thing to understand is that you shouldn’t be silent towards your audience. Communication and customer engagement is key when maintaining a consistent voice.

Skilled managers will actively engage with the user to keep them informed and also keep them coming back.

Analyze and evaluate

To ensure that your efforts in mastering some of these skills don’t go to waste, you must also be able to evaluate the effectiveness of the work you have done.

To do this, become proficient in utilizing analytics and social media listening tools that will help you understand how successful your posts have been. The more you do this, the more you will learn the needs of your audience and the types of content they engage with the most.

Content organization

Social media management not only helps you successfully organize your content, creating a historic track of previous posts, but it also help you figure out when to schedule future ones.

Tools like Trello, Hootsuite, and Brandwatch will help you with this and stay ahead of time, keeping a detailed content calendar and ensuring that posts are consistent and well-balanced.

These fundamentals will lead to a strong online presence and help you develop a detailed social media strategy. To enhance your skills further, it's always best to keep adapting to the ever-evolving digital landscape.

Core skills for social media managers

Having looked at the fundamentals of social media management above, it's time to delve into the skills required to meet these requirements.

There is no template for a social media manager. Some managers are great at doing the arduous tasks like admin and calendar work. Others are better as social media free-thinkers. Whatever type of social media manager you are––or type you're looking to hire––it's important to understand the range of skills that is required to do the job properly.

Here are the big three:

1) Communication skills

Communication skills are fundamental for a social media manager. That doesn’t just include written forms but spoken as well.

Of course, writing skills are crucial, because for things like blog posts and written form social media posts, you need impeccable grammar and an eye for detail. This is the first step to impactful messages that you want to get across.

It's also likely that social media manager positions are given to those who have proven themselves lower down the ladder, meaning they're likely to already have the communication skills in place.

But equally, when dealing with clients and partners, you need to be able to foster good relationships which require strong interpersonal skills.

This can often be an issue. An employee who excels in social media creation and communication may not be as good at stakeholder relationships. What's more, great social media managers not only convey information well, but are also willing to listen, and take on board ideas and criticism.

2) Content creation

A vital part of your storytelling is compelling content creation that engages your audience. Writing social media managers need to tailor their writing styles for different social networks, write concise and engaging copy, and use AI-powered content tools while also possessing editing and proofreading skills. So, any social media manager needs to be across all created content.

To do this effectively, you first need to do your research. Make sure you understand the current social media trends in your industry, so that your content remains relevant and informative.

It’s also key to understand what good visuals look like. Become familiar with basic graphic design principles including images, videos and gifs.

Behind all this, you also need a good strategy. Develop and use a content strategy that is relevant to your brand and helps you achieve the targets you set out.

Only then can you begin to create content––either by doing it yourself or allocating the tasks to others––armed with the knowledge that what you’re making is apt.

3) Community management

A social media manager needs to manage two communities: their internal team community, and diverse audiences across the online community.

Moderation across both is important. Managers need to ensure buy-in from colleagues and a steady, manageable work process when creating social media campaigns.

They also need to thoughtfully monitor all social platforms to ensure responses to posts are positive and respectful.

The trick is to not to be silent with your audience or your team members, engage with them like they engage with you, and be proactive.

Strategic planning and execution

It's almost impossible to get the best from social media platforms unless you plan your course of action. Here are tips for social media managers to follow:

Developing social media marketing strategies

A successful social media manager needs to create comprehensive social media strategies that align with their brand’s goals and objectives, and work closely with the marketing team. This includes:

  1. Identifying a target audience: Understand your demographics, preferences, and online behavior.
  2. Setting clear objectives: Define measurable goals for your social media marketing efforts, such as increasing brand awareness, generating leads, or driving sales.
  3. Choosing appropriate platforms: Select the most relevant social media channels, like X and Facebook, based on your audience and objectives.
  4. Crafting engaging content: Develop a content mix that caters to your audience’s needs and inspires interaction.

For good social media management, remember to make regular assessments and adjustments to your strategies by analyzing performance metrics.

Content scheduling

Consistency is key as a social media manager if you want to grow your social media presence. The problem is, there never feels like there's enough time in the day to get everything done.

You can overcome the never-ending hurdles of publishing content by establishing a content calendar.

Even if it's simply in the Meta Business Suite, a content calendar will help you strike a balance between trying to maintain visibility but also not overwhelming your audience with too much.

Share content at optimal times using AI as a guide and capture your audience when they are most likely to engage.

Tools like Brandwatch can help here, with one calendar that streamlines your processes.

Campaign management

Marketing campaigns are crucial in achieving your goals, especially how effectively you manage their success. However, a campaign needs proper oversight.

Fail to manage a campaign properly and issues can quickly arise. Here are three steps that social media managers need to stay on top:

  1. Firstly, set specific goals. Make sure targets are clearly defined for the desired outcome.
  2. Next, ensure you allocate a budget. Understand the appropriate spend for partnerships and ads.
  3. Then, monitor the success of your campaign. Track progression and performance, and adjust elements of your social media strategy to maximize the ROI.
  4. Lastly, report back on your findings. Use a tool like Brandwatch to get a holistic overview of your social media marketing efforts and create reports with actionable insights for next time.

Platform-specific expertise

The industry moves so fast that one of the big issues for many social media managers is not being across each advancement.

If you're a social media manager then there are things you need to be perpetually conscious of. This includes:

Understanding different social media platforms

It's essential as a social media manager to understand different social platforms. They each have their own distinctive features as well as audience demographics.

Facebook is one of the older platforms now and is therefore, unsurprisingly, subject to a much wider age group. It offers targeted advertising and versatile content options, eg Facebook Live, Stories, and regular posts.

Instagram is dominated by a younger audience and a far more visual platform for images and videos.

X (formerly Twitter) is all about real-time content. You will see a range of fun and also informative content, used frequently by professionals such as journalists and tech-enthusiasts.

TikTok is a newer social media platform, which similarly to Instagram is dominated by a younger audience. Its popularity has stemmed from short form, catchy content, usually informal and fun.

LinkedIn is a professional networking site that is key for businesses to connect with partners and for professionals to seek employment.

Spend time understanding each of these, their unique posting formats and engagement styles, and that will help you create content that resonates with your target audience.

Emerging technologies and trends

Emerging technologies mean that as a social media manager you have always got to be on top of the game when it comes to new social media trends. Platforms evolve, and as such, you need to adapt to them so that your strategy remains aligned.

The rise of TikTok and Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts and more, has proven that short, engaging content is crucial.

Livestreaming is also a great way of engaging with your audience through platforms like TikTok and Twitch, as it adds a unique element to your presence.

Ephemeral content is content that disappears after a short while, for example a Snapchat post, or story content implemented by Facebook and Instagram. This format encourages more frequent posting without overwhelming your audience.

Augmented reality is being implemented more by brands on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat to create a more interactive and immersive experience.

Graphic design and video

The demand for improved graphic design and video skills is growing all the time. Just think how difficult it was 15 years ago to capture content and alter it. You needed powerful software just to make tweaks.

Now, social media users can edit videos and erase unwanted scenes from footage in real time on their phones.

So, how do you stand out? By staying on top of software such as Adobe Creative Cloud, AI generation platforms like Pixlr, and the latest handset capabilities.

For video content, it’s key to understand the different formats such as aspect ratios and lengths that work on different platforms. For example, with TikTok and Reels, you should stick to the vertical format of 9x16.

TikTok and Instagram are also where you want to opt for shorter form content where possible.

Plan your content ahead of time through storyboards and shooting schedules, which can be done on content creation software. It will help you stay on top of demands and make you more organized.

Analytical abilities

Creating and publishing content is one thing. But one of the core social media manager skills required is being able to analyze your output. Through a combination of social listening and data analysis skills, you can angle your strategy in even the most rapidly changing industries.

Leveraging social media analytics

It’s a social media manager’s job to also look at the analytical insights behind your content. Making use of these metrics will help you understand trends, patterns, and start predicting future ones, thereby demonstrating the value of your social media efforts to stakeholders.

You can do this by keeping track of the different social media metrics like engagement, reach, and impressions.

Analytics can be tracked and analysed through tools such as Google Analytics. Making use of these metrics will help you understand trends, patterns and start predicting future ones.

This will not only increase the relevance of your content, but also increase engagement as well as the overall effectiveness of your strategy.

It’s also crucial to pay attention to the demographics of your audience to understand the different behaviors and needs across multiple platforms.

Monitoring audience behavior

Another key thing for the toolkit is to have the ability in monitoring audience behaviour.

It will give you a clearer understanding of how they engage with your posts, look at their habits and give you a deeper knowledge of how to improve your strategy.

Optimal posting times is the first step towards this. Identify when your audience is engaging with you the most and publish content accordingly.

Then you need to look at the content itself. What types of content does your audience engage with the most?

Perhaps more important than likes and shares are the comments left by users. Sentiment analysis is key to determining how they feel about certain topics and your brand as a whole.

Brand and reputation management

Fostering brand loyalty

The loyalty to your brand is fundamental and it’s equally important that you foster that relationship as a social media manager. To do this, you must focus on your brand’s story, and how you can best tell it for maximum impact.

One of the key ways to do this is through consistency. Audiences thrive off familiarity, so you need to maintain a consistent voice.

It’s also important to be open about your story. Be proud of your values and the mission you are setting out on. Your audience wants transparency.

Look at your customer’s success stories and highlight their appreciation for your brand.

Engagement and community building

Social media outreach

Your social media outreach is a powerful way to engage your followers and customers by interacting with them on your channels.

Research social media managers emphasize the importance of understanding their audience, staying up-to-date with social and digital media, tracking competitors' activities, and identifying trending topics through hashtag research.

Research your target audience and learn what their preferences are, how they behave, and why.

Monitor the way your audience is engaging, look at mentions, tags, and any keywords. This will help you stay updated.

Respond to comments, answer questions, and listen to feedback to help you foster a connection to your audience.

Forge strong relationships by collaborating with partners and influencers that compliment your brand.

Creating online communities

It is essential when creating online communities that you produce a sense of belonging amongst your community. This allows them to engage with your brand, and as a result, with each other as well.

Define what your online community wants to achieve by establishing a purpose. Provide support, start discussions and share things with your audience.

Ask questions to your audience and use polls through Instagram stories. There is also a new feature of adding polls to Instagram posts which is a great new way to interact.

Ensure that there are guidelines in your community and don’t ignore inappropriate behavior. Always maintain a safe environment so that you don’t lose followers.

Adapting to industry changes

The difficult thing when managing social media is that it is one of the most rapidly growing and changing industries out there.

This should be viewed as exciting and not daunting; it simply requires you to be on top of things as you learn to adapt.

Keeping up with industry news and trends

  1. Subscribe to news outlets: By following reliable outlets for news sources, you will stay informed about the latest developments.
  2. Participate in industry events: Attend online workshops, conferences, and more to gain valuable insights on new trends.
  3. Join social media communities: Network with other social media managers online through groups and forums to share best practices.
  4. Monitor the competition: Keep track of how your competitors are doing. Look at their engagement and see if there are any opportunities for you to identify new trends.

Advocacy and user engagement

Your skills in advocacy are important as a social media manager, especially with user engagement. If you understand how your audience engages, you can predict how they will continue to engage and stay one step ahead.

Cultivating user-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) is content that is produced by your audience that involves your brand or product. It could be any form of media, from images and videos to written content.

UGC can be incredibly valuable to marketing material if you need extra content and also increases loyalty amongst your audience.

Make sure you encourage your audience to share their content; don’t just assume they will do it.

They will feel a huge sense of belonging and recognition which will keep them loyal to your brand.

Hashtags are a good way to get multiple followers to share UGC all in one place. This also creates more discussion, which is also great for engagement.

Consider spotlighting your audience. You could pick a day dedicated to UGC and feature the best content shared with you.

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