It seems almost every day a new Twitter-like platform or social feature emerges, causing all of us to Google, “How do I Periscope?” or “What’s Meerkat?”
To find out what media pros really need to know to be considered up-to-date with social media skills, we talked with industry experts to get the scoop on what you need to know.
So whether you’re a social media professional, a job-seeker searching for a social media job or a media professional looking to leverage social—look no further, we’ve got you covered.
1. Live Engagement
Like it or not, the next big push in social media is live engagement. Think Facebook Live, Snapchat and Periscope. Unlike produced video, where you create brand-approved content before sharing with an audience, live is a whole different can of worms.
“These platforms and others like them differ from what we’ve seen in the past because they disallow excessive refinement and call on brands or celebrities to portray reality as it truly is,” says Brady Donnelly, managing director of digital agency Hungry.
What does this mean for social media professionals? For one, rather than spending time crafting the perfect piece of content, you’ll be finding sources that can safely broadcast messaging to an audience, all while upholding a brand’s image and voice.
2. Social Commerce
As marketers continue to blur the line between content and advertising, it’s important to not only have a strong understanding of social commerce—measurable interaction taken on a social media platform that can influence the purchasing decisions of a consumer, such as clicking a “buy” button on a paid social ad—as it currently stands, but also best practices.
Paul Hughes, director of social media and public relations at The Brandon Agency, says it’s important for social media pros to understand the balance between content and advertising, as well as the need for authenticity. “The audience will quickly get turned off if you just sell sell sell. There are lots of ‘rules’ out there on what that balance should be, but generally, 80% of the time you should NOT be selling, but engaging.”
3. Video Editing
Depending on the size of the social team, video editing and production sometimes becomes partly the job of the social media pro. And as video continues to dominate social, the need for this skill will only grow.
Hughes says basic photography and video editing should be a part of any social media pro’s toolkit. After that, it takes an eye for good production quality. “Not all video or images are created equal. That’s not to say it has to be studio quality video or professional pictures, but that it has to be appropriate and authentic to the audience,” says Hughes.
For Lauren Marfoe, director of digital strategy at Creative Media Marketing, communication and collaboration reign supreme. “It’s more important to have a strong creative vision that you can easily express to others and be willing to work collaboratively with experts in design and editing to help achieve your vision,” says Marfoe.
While automation itself is not a new skill, the act of using it with caution is.
“Automation in social media is a double-edged sword,” says Hughes. While there are times when automation is beneficial, Hughes says most of the time it leaves the user with a less-than-human feeling.
The other automation risk comes when you schedule your posts with a set it and forget mentality. One example Hughes gives is when a hotel schedules a post about great beach weather and it ends up raining on the day of the automated post.
With these common pitfalls becoming more apparent to both users and social media professionals, the challenge now is to continue leveraging automation when possible while working hard to keep the human element intact.
5. Project Management
It wasn’t too long ago that brands simply handed the task of social media to their copywriter. Now, a lot more goes into posts and campaigns.
Aimee Cicero, an agency communication manager at Brownstein Group, says because social has become a primary advertising vehicle, it takes a team to successfully execute a social media strategy.
“You need a team that can handle strategy, creative, copywriting, listening and media buying. Whether you have a team in-house or leverage an agency partner, the ability to project manage becomes paramount,” says Cicero.
Just like with any creative campaign, one of the most important skills is understanding how to spend your limited budget in the most effective ways possible.
“Social media professionals need to understand how to manage social budgets to better affect the longevity and targeting of the campaign,” says Adam Baliban, senior digital specialist at CooperKatz & Company, Inc. “They also need to take into account that social media campaigns aren’t an exact science, and you may decide to tweak optimizations mid-campaign depending on how it is performing.”
In a field that’s ever-changing—and that never sleeps—it’s important social media professionals have a true passion for creating the best content, as well as learning how the field is evolving.
And while it may feel as if we can create less-than-stellar content since everything moves so quickly from one trending topic to the next, because nothing ever leaves the internet, “you better really be passionate about what you’re putting out there and making sure it’s the best and most creative work you can do,” Marfoe reminds.
For Chris Dessi, CEO of SilverBack Social and author of Remarkable You, working in this field requires a certain level of social media obsession: “[I]f you’re not fully obsessed with social media, and continuing to learn about this ever-changing landscape, you’ll die. Obsolescence abounds. Platforms, tools, even social networks pop up and disappear. You must be at the tip of the spear at all times.”