7 Skills You Need to be a Successful Social Media Professional

9 Min Read. |

So you’ve decided to become a Social Media Professional.

Your friends are doing great in their careers as Social Media Professionals. Any professional who knows anything about Social Media seems to be in great demand. The salaries are going up and show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Social Media is no longer just a good-looking accessory on your profile as a Marketer, rather an essential one. You’ve seen eyebrows being raised and sighs being released when a colleague is not Social Media savvy and yet happens to be a marketing professional.

And so, you’ve decided to become a Social Media Professional.

But is that enough?

Do you want to be just a Social Media Professional?

Or, do you want to be a Successful Social Media Professional?

The sound of success is what makes it a worthy pursuit, after all. Isn’t it?

And now, you’re wondering.

You thought it was simple. You would quickly learn the ropes of Social Media Management, you would do some quick online courses, would go through some free e-books on the matter and voila! You would have transformed into a Social Media Professional.

Wasn’t success a given in this whole thing? Damn! If only life was that simple.

Now, you need to learn how to become a Successful Social Media Professional.

It’s boring and might not seem like a fun thing to do.

Yet, it is extremely important and can’t be overlooked. It’s basic and simple and that’s where the magic lies, ‘coz simple stuff is easy to miss. And most importantly, it can be learned, it’s an acquired skill. There are some really good online courses for Social Media to help you with this.

This article establishes the not-so-easy-to-spot difference between being a Social Media Professional versus being a Successful Social Media Professional, and it would also take you through essential skill-sets that you would need, in order to become that.

So here it goes…

Essential Skill-set for a Successful Social Media Marketer

1.) Brand Management Basics 

Because of all the above-listed reasons there is a huge influx of people who want to make hay while the Social Media sun is shining bright. There is a huge pool of talented people who are doing amazing campaigns, communication, and engagement across Social Media and make it a fun world to inhabit.

At the same time, there is also a huge pool that has come just for the lure of all the buzz and glamor around Social Media. They don’t train themselves for this really demanding and skillful job. They don’t go through the basics of marketing communication and brand management.

They’re going to find it very difficult to create meaningful, engaging communication, to put the content out there in the right way in front of the audience and to keep the engagement going. After all, fruits of Social Media are of slow, hard and demanding labor. You need to keep going deliberately and keep building it brick by brick.

Don’t be like those people!

The first step towards becoming a Social Media Professional, that too a successful one at that, is to get your marketing basics in solid place. Call it Digital or Social Media or whatever, in the end, it is still marketing communication being delivered to human beings. Behind all those screens, you’re still trying to communicate a brand message to living human beings (hopefully, otherwise you’ve bigger worries to deal with anyways).

You’re still going to need all the brand management basics, more so if you’re determined to become a successful Social Media professional and want to carve out a niche for yourself in your chosen career path.

2.) Statistical Analysis and Research

Fear of Statistics


If you’re like most people, even the mere thought of Statistics might make you go weak in your knees, and not necessarily in a good way (pun intended!).

Research says that the human brain is not naturally wired to process Statistics. We need to put into special efforts to learn Statistics and we need to keep practicing it regularly to avoid losing our knowledge.

Now, let’s just make it worse for you. Repeat after me and pay attention to each word – Statistics Analysis and Research.

There, your nightmare just got tripled. These three words are enough to terrorize a lot of people in their own individual capacity and if put these three together, you’ve a perfect horror.

Does that strike a chord with you, too?

If your answer is yes, then my dear friend, you need to face your fear head-on and either conquer it or befriend it. Unlike what looks on the surface, Social Media is not just creative designs and quirky writing (well, that’s equally important too). It’s also a lot about reading, understanding, processing and analyzing the statistical data.

You need to dig down into what’s happening behind-the-scenes and how to tap into the full potential of Social Media as a marketing channel. That’s how all your beloved Social Media channels have built themselves as Advertising empires, by using Statistical Analysis and Research to understand Consumer Behavior Patterns and to put those to use for serving targeted advertising.

Put on that data analytics thinking hat on top of your head, now!

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3.) Strategic Management & Planning

Successful Social Media Marketing is a lot about strategic management and planning. You need to thoroughly plan and develop at least some or mostly all of the following:

  • content strategy,
  • outreach strategy,
  • publishing strategy,
  • audience engagement strategy
  • response management strategy and,

then you need to strategize to go back to the drawing board and work on your continual optimization strategy.

To keep your Social Media efforts going and going in the right direction, you would need to build or adopt simple systems. Even doing simple things day in and day out can be quite overwhelming if there is no structure in place. And your efforts would start crumbling under the pressure to keep up, if you and your team are overwhelmed.

That’s definitely something that keeps the Social Media Professionals from becoming Successful Social Media Professionals. Of course, you wouldn’t want that to happen.

The ability of strategic thinking and structural planning will go a long way into ensuring that you stay on the right path and are able to execute what you’ve set out to do. It would keep all pieces of Social Media puzzle together and you would be able to switch between and manage both the bigger picture and smaller parts, in a coherent manner.

This is what would separate a Social Media Professional from the successful ones.

4.) Pattern Recognition

Social Media Professional

Audience Behavior Pattern Recognition – Getting into the mind of your audience

The exponential growth of Digital Marketing also brought in the onslaught of data available to work with. You can track so many parameters and can make so many cohorts. As the time is passing, Digital Marketers are getting swamped with the data tsunami.

Having more and more data available to work with should be a good thing, you would say. It is. Only if you know how to make use of this data. Only if you can recognize the patterns and then gain audience behavior insights out of that. That’s where the trick is.

To put it in a poetic analogy, Pattern Recognition is the art of separating wheat from the chaff. You need to develop the ability to cut through the ton loads of data and recognize the usage patterns that this data is pointing towards.

You can also use this skill to accurately test your hypothesis and assumptions. Let’s say that you want to find out the exact time when your audience engages most with your content on Social Media. You could test out publishing at different times for a stipulated time period and collect the data. Then you could compare the data and identify the patterns to either reach the exact publishing time period or you could already take an assumption and either accept it or discard and move on to the next experiment. And that’s just one of the simplest pattern recognition utility examples.

Develop your skills to read the data over a period of time instead of point-in-time, recognize the patterns that it forms, and you’re on the path to becoming a truly successful Social Media Professional.

5.) Visual and Creative Aesthetics

For this particular skill, we don’t even need to make a case. This is something that is very publicly visible, and is actually the major part of the glam attached with Social Media as a profession. This is what the audience consumes and interacts with. This is the face of Social Media Branding initiatives.

Visual and Creative Aesthetics are integral and the most visible parts of your Social Media strategy.

If Social Media strategy is a magic trick then Visual and Creative Aesthetics is the “prestige” of this magic trick.

All the planning, strategy, data crunching, and pattern recognition won’t be able to save your social media strategy from tanking if your aesthetics are not up to the mark.

You might have a professional creative team at your disposal but, you, as the leader of the pack, would need to have a sharp aesthetic sense to guide them towards creating the compelling designs and communication that would resonate with your audience.

No one understands what your audience wants and how they want it, better than you. You must understand your audience even better than themselves. So whether or not you’re designing the creatives for Social Media, you would have to take the lead on getting the aesthetic sensibilities spot on.

You would and should need to get into the nitty-gritties of visual and creative aesthetics and it would help you greatly in your quest to become a Successful Social Media Professional.

6.) Copywriting 

Strong Copywriting skills are a must for a Social Media Professional. As a Social Media Professional, you would be writing a lot. You would be writing the messaging on the creatives, the captions, hashtags and responses to audience messages etc.

Needless to mention, ensuring that a compelling (and don’t forget error-free, unless intended otherwise) message is going with all your Social Media messaging and that the audience actually responds to it, is very important to the success of your Social Media strategy.

Invest in honing your Copywriting skills and make your brand’s Social Media communication stand out from the clutter. That’s the ingredient you can’t miss out, in the recipe of becoming a Successful Social Media Professional.

7.) Reporting, Measuring and Analysis

Social Media Professional

Sample report from a Social Media Reporting Tool

What does Digital Marketers have but traditional marketers struggle with?

What makes Digital Marketing tick against traditional marketing?

What made Digital Marketing successful in first place?

Answer: Ability and tools to track, report, measure and analyze the audience response data.

This is the crucial potion in making Digital Marketing work. Being able to report, measure and analyze the performance data and in turn to use it for the next level of optimization, is the formula for succeeding in Digital Marketing. And Social Media is a child of Digital Marketing, is no different.

You would need to work on your fears, if you have any, of working on piles of data in your analytics reports, making impressive excel sheets and understanding those excel sheets, are just some of the activities that would be on your everyday work schedule.

By reporting, measuring and analyzing the performance of your Social Media efforts, you would be able to gauge whether you’re headed in the right direction or if you strategy needs some tweaking. If it does need tweaking then you would be able to identify those required tweaks from your reports.

It’s your turn now!

So now that you know 7 integral skills for becoming a Successful Social Media Marketer, how do you plan to build upon these skills in the coming years?

If you already are a Successful Social Media Marketer, what skills came in handy during your journey and how did you go about building those over a period of time?

Share your responses in the comments section with us and our readers.

Moreover, to become highly proficient in social media marketing, you should also have social media certification that can act as proof of your worth.

Image Courtesy : Queen’s University Library, SalesForce, MarketingLand

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