Fast Company

10 Important Skills and Traits Your Social Media Manager Will Need

A decade ago, the role of a social media manager might not have even existed. Today, however, almost every company is involved in social media one way or another.
A quick look at Google Trends shows the rise in interest in the term “social media manager” over the years, and it seems that people have never been as interested in the term as they are today.

But what does it take to be a great social media manager? What are the skills to master and traits to have? How can you work on those areas?
In this post, we’ll try our best to answer all those questions. We’ll share 10 skills and traits that are crucial to being a great social media manager and relevant resources to help you improve in those areas.

Skills vs Traits
Throughout this post, we’ll discuss the various skills and traits we feel are most important for social media managers. But before we dive in, I quickly wanted to share some of my learnings about the difference between skills and traits.
Here’s a great explanation of skills vs traits from Red Letter Resumes:
Skills are tangible factors that you actually bring to the table. Things such as HTML, PowerPoint, Tax Preparation, Medication Compounding, Social Media Management, Lesson Planning, Accounts Receivable, Contract negotiations, etc. They are things that require you to develop a certain level of understanding, productivity or efficiency to claim expertise.
A trait is therefore defined as, “a quality that makes one person or thing different from another”. These are the things that make you who you are, that are part of your personality: the things that make you different from other people. The difference is that these are subjective. One person’s definition of being hard-working is not the same as another’s. Traits come without a quantifiable or standard measure. They are often, but not always, amplifiers of how you do or complete something that is a skill.

(Image from The Huffington Post)
When it comes to finding your ideal social media manager, I feel you may be looking for the right mix of tangible skills (things like copywriting and analytics) and traits (such as curiosity).
In addition, we feel that the role of a social media manager these days owes heavily to the concept of a T-shaped marketer. We use the T-shaped marketer framework at Buffer to describe the depth of skills each of us has as well as the breadth of experiences and knowledge that we all hold.
Here’s a n example of how this might look for someone with a depth of skill in content:

7 skills top social media managers share
1. Copywriting
Copywriting is a fundamental skill for social media marketing (and probably all areas of marketing). Writing good copy is required in many areas of a social media manager’s role, from filling up your social media profile description to crafting tweets and Facebook posts.
To drive engagement and clicks, you have to fit a captivating story into your social media post and without great copywriting skills that can be difficult.
To enhance your copywriting skills, I’d highly recommend studying a few copywriting formulas to help you craft inspiring copy. Finding a copywriting formula (or two) that works for you can be a great productivity boost and also improve the quality of the social media content you publish.
One of our favorite copywriting techniques here at Buffer is the ‘Before – After – Bridge’ – you may recognize it from a few of our blog posts and social posts. Here’s how it works:
Before – After – Bridge
Before – Here’s your world …
After – Imagine what it’d be like, having Problem A solved …
Bridge – Here’s how to get there.
Resources

Copyblogger (Blog)
75 Resources for Writing Incredible Copy that Converts (Blog post by KISSmetrics)


2. Design (Graphics and Videos)
Research has found that social media posts with images receive more engagement and 43 percent of consumers want to see more videos content in the future.

Social media evolved a great deal over recent years, and we have moved away from mostly plain text based updates towards visual content such as images and videos. Designing and creating visual content is becoming an essential skill for social media managers.
Resources

Canva’s Design School (Courses and articles)
Why Every Marketer in 2016 Needs to Be a (Part-Time) Designer: 53 Design Terms and Tips to Level-Up (Blog post by Buffer)
How to Create Social Media Videos on a Budget (Blog post by Social Media Examiner)
A Video Marketing Guide On Creating Epic Content for Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and More (Blog post by Buffer)


3. Public Speaking (confidence in front of an audience)
With features and apps like Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and Periscope, live videos are becoming more and more important on social platforms. And marketers have noted this change, with 42 percent of marketers saying they want to create more live videos.

Why are marketers excited about live video? I believe the answer is two-fold: reach and engagement. Facebook Live videos are more likely to appear higher in the News Feed when those videos are live than after they are no longer live. From an engagement perspective, live content also provides opportunity for high-engagement and 1:1 interactions with audiences.
To tap into the live video trend, social media managers have to be confident enough to go live on social media to connect with their audience. Having public speaking skills will help you to present your ideas, interview guests, answer impromptu questions, and chat with your followers in real-time.
If you want to see our awesome Social Media Manager, Brian Peters, in action, you can find his live videos here. And below is a short clip of Brian discussing viral content:

Resources

Toastmasters (Resources and community)
11 Places to Learn Public Speaking Skills for Free (Blog post by Inc.)
15 essential tips for mastering Facebook Live (Blog post by Mashable)


4. Customer Service / Community Engagement
Social media is the top channel people go to for customer care, but only 21 percent of businesses use social media for customer support. This means there’s a huge opportunity here to provide remarkable customer service experiences.

As the face of your company on social media and the person who is likely to be responding to at least some of the messages your brand receives on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, it’s important for social media managers to have conversational skills and empathy to help you customers on social media.
Community engagement is quite similar in many ways. A great social media community manager is able to ask the right questions to facilitate engagement and answer questions about the product, company, or industry.
Resources

Support Ops (Podcast)
The power of vulnerability (Video by Brené Brown)
Customer Support Academy (Blog by Respond)
Social Media Examiner (Blog)


5. Behavioral Psychology
With data and analytics, you know what type of social media posts do well. Behavioral psychology tells you the why — for example, why are people attracted to certain posts? Why do people share certain posts?
Knowing the what allows you to spot trends and try to repeat past successes; knowing the why enables you to understand the underlying causes for those trends in order to try and create future successes.
For example, your data might tell you that your tweets with images are doing better than tweets with only text. Based on just that information, you might create more tweets with images. However, it could be that your followers prefer visual content. Without knowing the psychology behind trends, you might miss out on opportunities to create other types of visual content such as videos and GIFs.
You certainly don’t need a degree or high level of expertise in psychology to be a social media manager, but a keenness to learn and understand psychology at some level is an important skill.
Resources

Nir and Far (Blog by Nir Eyal)
50 Must-Read Psychology Books (Blog post by Gregory Ciotti)
An Introduction to Marketing Psychology: How to Use Human Behavior to Make More Informed Decisions (eBook by HubSpot)
15 Psychological Studies That Will Boost Your Social Media Marketing (Blog post by Buffer)


6. Analytics
The term, ‘Analytics’, is used quite broadly here, referring to both social media metrics (e.g. likes, comments, shares, etc.) and business metrics (e.g. traffic, leads, conversions, revenue, etc.). A great social media manager is able to understand both types of metrics and tie them together to give an overall view of the company’s social media performance against business goals.
A social media manager should be the guiding light in your business when it comes to measuring your performance across various social channels. As such, learning the ins and outs of social media metrics and judging which ones are meaningful for your business is essential for a social media manager.
For example, if your goal is to drive traffic from social media channels to your website and drive sales, being able to attribute traffic and conversions back to channels and even certain posts will help your team to understand what content is helping you to achieve your goals.
Knowing how to read and interpret data is now an important skill for social media managers.
Resources

Free Social Media Analytics Course (Course by quintly)
Google Analytics Academy (Resource by Google)
Startup Marketing Metrics for Pirates (Video by Dave McClure)
HubSpot (Blog)


7. Budgeting
As a social media manager, you might be allocated a budget to work with. Apart from paid advertising, you might have to pay for things like a social media management tool, designs, images, or courses to improve yourself. Having some basic financial and budgeting knowledge can make you better on the job.
While you might not need to be an Excel expert, understanding Excel and knowing what you can do with it can be very valuable.

(Image from HubSpot)
Resources

How to Spend a Social Media Budget (Blog post by Buffer)
Social Media Marketing Budget Template (Template by Demand Metrics)
How to Manage Your Entire Marketing Budget [Free Budget Planner Templates] (Blog post and templates by HubSpot)
Microsoft Excel – From Beginner to Expert in 6 Hours (Udemy course)


3 personality traits great social media managers exhibit
8. Curiosity
A curious social media manager would immerse herself in the social media world, staying up-to-date with the latest development and experimenting with new social media marketing strategies.
Brian Peters is an epitome of this quality. When we discovered that videos, especially live videos, are becoming popular on social media, Brian immediately started making more videos on Facebook and Twitter. When Snap Inc. launched Spectacle, Brian got it as soon as he could to try it out and figure out how marketers can use it in their social media strategy.

HubSpot VP of Marketing Meghan Keaney Anderson said this really well when she described her ideal social media hire:
“We really look for people who have their finger on the pulse of how social is changing. It is one of the most rapidly changing industries right now, and I want someone who is paying attention to it, who is enthralled by it and fascinated by it. … Things shift so fast. If you think about the social media channels that were dominant two years ago and the social media channels that are dominant today, it’s just a totally different world.”
Resources

How to Be a More Curious Person: 7 Tips for Becoming a Lifelong Learner (Blog post by HubSpot)
8 Habits of Curious People (Blog post by Fast Company)


9. Adaptability
Adaptability complements curiosity. When you discover something new or spot a trend, being able to quickly adapt to it can keep you ahead of the curve.
For example, the most engaging type of social media content has shifted from texts to images to videos. In a Fast Company article, Mark Zuckerberg was reported to have said,
“Most of the content 10 years ago was text, and then photos, and now it’s quickly becoming videos,” Zuckerberg said, justifying Facebook’s aggressive push into the area. “I just think that we’re going to be in a world a few years from now where the vast majority of the content that people consume online will be video.”
A great social media manager is able to keep up with such changes and pick up the necessary skills (e.g. graphic design, video making, etc.). (Imagine when virtual reality becomes the most popular type of content!)
Resources

4 Steps To Becoming More Adaptable To Change (Blog post by Fast Company)
How can you learn faster? (Quora thread)
Four-Hour Workweek (Blog by Tim Ferriss)
Make It Stick (Book by Peter C. Brown)


10. Business Savviness
Being able to generate likes and shares is great; knowing how social media fits in with the entire business strategy is even better! A business-savvy social media manager sees the bigger picture and understands the role of social media in the company.
They understand which metrics are most relevant and crucial to the business and how social media can help to push them higher. For example, a B2B social media manager might focus on generating leads for her sales team while a B2C social media manager might focus on increasing customer purchases directly. This way, her impact goes beyond just social media but to the entire company.
Resources

11 Helpful Resources for Improving Your Business Skills (Blog post by HubSpot)
How to Get Hired as a Social Media Manager (and Then Rock the Job Once You Have It) [SSM03] (Podcast by Buffer)


Skills and traits others think are important
To give you an unbiased view on this topic, I’d love to share the skills and traits that other companies and individuals think are important:
What the Best Social Media Community Managers Actually Do in Their Jobs by HubSpot

Content creation
Marketing analytics
News junkie
Customer service
Community management
Funnel marketing
Project management

Lindsay Kolowich of HubSpot also mentioned the necessary skills for each of these areas in this article.
10 Essential Skills a Social Media Manager Needs To Have on Their Resume by Jeff Bullas

Strategy planning
Tactics and execution
Community management
Understand how content works on a social web
Optimizing content and technology
Creative mindset
Writing skills
Be on top of the latest digital marketing trends
Analytical skills
Leadership and communication skills

How to Build A Social Media Strategy Dream Team by HubSpot and Sprout Social

Patience
Technical aptitude
Proactive
Daring
Passion
Level of Experience
Customer-first mentality

Over to you
While you might not need to be proficient in every single area mentioned above, being good at a few of them would make you a great social media manager and a valuable asset to your company.
What other skills do you think is important for a social media manager to have? Would you be up for sharing some resources for improving those skills, too?
Thank you!

How Scaling Companies Lean on Content to Grow, Engage and Entertain Customers

I’ve been a content marketer for a whopping two and half years. That’s not a lot of time. In my past life, I considered myself a journalist. I wrote fashion and beauty news for ELLE, and then moved to writing branded content for Mashable — which became my launching pad for a career in content marketing.
As it turns out, there isn’t too much different about a branded content article on a site like Mashable or Buzzfeed or Forbes or Fast Company — nearly everyone is doing them these days — and writing article copy for an actual brand. At least, there really isn’t that much different in theory.
After all, public perception of your brand is your brand. There are plenty of stats that tell us that:
70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated
80% of companies say they deliver “superior” customer service
8% of people think these same companies deliver “superior” customer service
Americans tell an average of 9 people about good experiences, and tell 16 people about poor experiences
This is why it is so crucial that brands be efficient in speaking to their customers on social, in blog posts and, yes, on sites like Mashable, Buzzfeed, Forbes and Fast Company. Wherever your audience is, whatever it is that they are reading, your content –– i.e. your brand’s voice –– should be there too.
And what if it isn’t? What if you opt to do display and banner ads instead? What if you sponsor ads on Google? What if you retarget and follow your customers all around the web? What if you do all of these without providing any context or enabling any other connection point between your customer and your brand?
Well, then you’re a stalker.
Let’s take that very same idea, and drop it into a different scenario. What if you hosted a party, and someone attractive came. You didn’t speak. There was no verbal connection and they may not have even made eye contact with you. After the party, though, you begin to show up everywhere they go. Your OKCupid profile picture pops up on their Facebook feed. You begin going to their church or their yoga class or their business presentation (or all three!). You want them to be interested, you want them to feel the same connection you do — that one you never actually created. What are you?
You’re a stalker. A relatively innovative one, but a stalker nonetheless.
Now, just as for actual people, your presence doesn’t make an immediate connection — and even if it does, its fleeting. What people remember, what your target audience, what your prospective customer, what your next possible date, will most remember about you — and this applies to brands — is what you say, how you say it and how well you prove that what you said is true, honest and human.
Content doesn’t just control your brand then. Content is your brand, because customer perception is your brand — and customer perception is shaped most significantly by your content.
Now, content is everything. It is your tweet, it is the LinkedIn article your CEO writes, it is what your sales person says to close a deal, it is even what your sales person says when a deal suddenly falls through and the person on the other end of the line is being insanely rude. Content is every single aspect of tone, charisma, thought leadership and engagement that your brand participates in in one way or another.
This sounds like a lot to manage — and rest assured, it is. But the trick isn’t to be perfect. The trick isn’t even to be identical in how you talk to customers, as if every single person that works at your company is a clone of the next. The trick is to be human, it is to be honest, it is to be true to what you say.
That’s how you make friends in real life — and that’s how you win loyal customers for your brand.
OK — so, you don’t have to be perfect, but you do need to be strategic. Brands aren’t people. Brands are a conglomerate of many, many agile and intelligent minds all working toward a similar and agreed upon goal.
People on the other hand are not conglomerates. People are free agents acting according to their own individual goals — or often just whims. Brands need more guidance than that. Brands need to ask, they need to double check, they need someone at the executive level to sign off (depending on your org chart). And that’s not a bad thing. What it is, though, is a lot of work for a content team.
The Hubspot Content Model
Let’s take Hubspot for example. I’m sure most of you, perhaps even all of you, have read a blog post or two from them. They manage three different blog verticals, at least that’s what a reader can see. Likely, because they are Hubspot, they segment much more once you fall into one of their nurture streams. Speaking of nurture streams, more content is needed in there to push warm leads to becoming hot leads — or at least engaged members of the Hubspot readership community. To get those warm leads, they first have to pull in completely cold leads and they do this through their social channels.
Ah, yes, more content.
They tweet, post and share their own blog posts as well as that of other brands and publishers. Their editors and content team members also tweet, post and share blog posts they worked on. All of that is Hubspot branded content — even when it is coming from an editor’s personal account. That message needs to be on brand — but fitting for both the editor and Hubspot.
Then, when you actually talk to Hubspot, like actually get into their sales funnel, these guys are great! They talk to you about blog posts, they send you blog posts, they reference blog posts, they make you feel like if you aren’t reading their blog posts — well, what are you doing online?
All in all, these guys are zipped up. The sales team knows their content and they know that content is their brand. And, everyone at their company knows it, too.
So, let’s wrangle all of this down a bit. Few of us are at a Hubspot business level. How does a scaling company implement this content is the brand philosophy? Well, you first put in place a cross-organizational content team. This means that every single person at your business can and ideally will be a content contributor. This doesn’t mean they have to be the best writer in the building. That’s what you hire a content marketer for — to do the edits, to rewrite when necessary, to make sure everything going out is on-brand, even when the tone varies based on the author.
For most content teams, the best way to do this is by working closely with your sales, campaigns, support, product and BI teams. For more information on exactly how a business, like Bigcommerce, puts this to work, stay tuned for a future blog post.

The 14 Most ____ Round-Ups of 2014

2014 New Years Eve

( photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s that time of year when bloggers schedule their year-end wrap ups to post while they are off drinking egg nog and ‘gramming pictures of their childhood bedrooms. The result is a plethora of end of the year round-ups.

So in the interest of publishing even more lists on the Internet, the Observer has complied a list of end-of-year lists. It isn’t comprehensive (because nobody should have to read every year-end list). Instead, it is a fairly random sampling of 14 year-end-lists that have caught our eye, for whatever reason. Enjoy. And remember, by next week, it will be the beginning of a new year. We will never have to talk or think about 2014 again.

Notable Opinion Art of 2014The New York Times ‘ Opinion Pages got self-referential.

Great TV 2014: Not a List, Not in Order New Yorker television critic Emily Nussbaum finally succumbed and wrote about the shows she watched and liked over the past year, proving that even The New Yorker isn’t immune.

The media’s volatile year, Politico’s media reporter Hadas Gold reminded us of what a crazy year it has been for media news, “for better or worse,” as the subhead explained.

The worst journalism of 2014 CJR gave us a more depressing take on the year in media.

The 10 Worst Civil Liberties Violations of 2014 “It’s been an exceptionally awful year,” Slate unequivocally explained.

31 Moments That Restored Our Faith in Humanity in 2014 Juxtapose that with BuzzFeed’s uplifting take on the past year. After all, how bad can a year be when there were multiple spontaneous dance parties on public transportation?

The 15 worst Internet hoaxes of 2014—and where the pranksters are now Never mind. The girl who somehow pranked Internet writers into believing that she had gotten a plastic surgeon to give her a third boob in order to score a reality show is now trying to be a pop star. Whatever faith in humanity was restored by BuzzFeed has been ruined by The Washington Post.

An Unquenchable Year: The Jezebel Thirsty 100 The Gawker media site staff made a list of the people and things that exhibited the most “thirst,” which is defined as “unseemly striving for an unrealistic goal, or an unnecessary amount of praise.” They named themselves the thirstiest.

Bests, Worsts and Other Superlatives From 2014 in Entertainment Vulture covered all the bases.

The 9 Robots That Might Have Enslaved Us in 2014 Fast Company won for the headline alone.

In Memoriam: Remembering All the Content That Didn’t Go Viral This Year Speaking of things that could have happened but didn’t, Clickhole’s parody is spot-on.

Stars strip down: The year in nude celebrity photos There isn’t much we can count on, but at least there is the New York Post.

The 14 Most Scandalous Instagram Posts of 2014 (NSFW)Cosmo also came through in the dependable category.

Check Out What Opened on the Upper West Side in 2014 Of course, if its hyperlocal you want, DNAinfo has you covered.

Note: We left out publication’s list of their own most popular/best stories (we aren’t doing publicity). We didn’t include writer’s recaps of their own year (Medium took care of that). And even though the Observer has written some end-of-year lists ourselves, we didn’t include them because even we have limits to how meta we can get.