A few years ago I had an honest conversation with myself about whether I wanted to specialize in social or position myself as a generalist in marketing, communications, advertising or public relations. I chose the former and have absolutely no regrets. Here are a few skills that will either help you land a job in the social space or help your thrive once you’ve landed one:
You need to be able to approach a company or organization with a vision for their product/service and a rough plan for their social media presence. What platforms make sense for their business? What is the best way to reach their target audience? How does that vision fit into their larger business objectives?
Measure everything. Define key performance indicators and quantify your programs. It’ll take some work at the beginning, but it will give you a clear indication of performance, and give credibility to your work.
Superb Writing skills
Conveying complex ideas in a precise way is a real skill, and it needs practice. The attention span of your audience is diminishing and consumers are multitasking more than ever. Your success working in social media will depend on how well you can capture and maintain their attention through the written word.
There is nothing more impactful than a great story. I came from a background in journalism, so perhaps I’m biased, but knowing how to turn a product/service into a story will not just make you a better communicator but actually influence purchasing behaviour.
The people I admire most in the social space have a genuine interest and passion for emerging trends, technologies and news. They are constantly on the lookout for what’s next, how they can learn and improve their skills, and what’s evolving in the space. Working in social media is not a 9-5 job so you must inherently want to been dialed in at all times.
The Fundamentals of Photography
I’m convinced that the Internet will eventually be one big picture book. Readers have come to avoid extended blocks of text and have shifted their attention to more stimulating visual content. Basic photography skills are the foundation of storytelling so I encourage you to master the basics to make yourself more attractive to employers.
The speed at which someone working on social media operates requires some time management and organizational skills. You’ll need to a running tab on tasks, dates, deadlines, priorities and key deliverables. Without this skill set, your teammates will have difficulty trusting you and you’ll sink over time.
Working in social media really is a team effort. Depending on the size of your social team, you’ll need the help from others within your organization to ensure your short and long-term projects come to fruition as planned. You’ll need to build an inner circle of people that have an interest in supporting your company’s strategy and can contribute in various ways – some knowingly, some not – for example; someone in legal, HR, IT, etc.
Just as fast as social media became a thriving career choice, I think it could be gone just as quickly. If I’ve learned one thing since working in social, it’s that social media is a communications vehicle. It doesn’t act independently without, in some way, aligning with a larger marketing campaign, communications plan or a PR strategy. There’s a LOT of overlap and you’ll find yourself wearing many different hats, so it’s important to adapt to whatever new skills you might need to learn to master your role.
Working in social media changes on a daily basis. You’re completely at the mercy of the platforms that you work on. Or as Scott Stratton says, you built your castle on leased land.
What skills have I miss? Add them below!