In the race to call ourselves social media “experts” we’ve gotten lost in the jargon … we’ve let the excitement of new revenue streams allow us to use fear tactics to force sales in the social world.
And rather than actually studying the field of social media and the components that stack on top one another to make it the vast skill set it is — communication, business savvy, PR, marketing, digital media, advertising, email marketing, content marketing, etc. — some social media “experts” are deploying a Facebook-like strategy (I use the term strategy loosely) on every imaginable platform out there.
Plain and simple, many of the social media “experts” and community managers (CMGRs) out there playing with your brand’s reputation are missing the very foundation of business in general!
And many of these qualities aren’t even something you’d need to succeed online, they’re things you need to succeed in business; a social business is a business before it’s anything else.
Back To Basics In The Social World
There are certain skills you need to be a social media expert that don’t really have anything to do with the online world.
If you really want to get philosophical, it’s less about having a social media strategy and more about having a business strategy that looks to social media to fulfill goals.
Ask yourself the following questions and answer honestly with yes or no:
- Writing & editing skills: I can string together easy-to-read sentences.
- Spelling & grammar knowledge: I have a firm grasp on spelling, grammar and can easily spot mistakes when they’re made.
- Project management experience: I’m comfortable managing multiple projects, clients, and platforms during any given time on any given day.
- Analytics and data measurement: I know of several ways to show a (soft or hard) return on investment for my business, and the business of my clients.
- Customer service experience: I’ve been “in service” to others with past or current jobs.
- Conflict resolution and management: When faced with negative feedback or criticism, I’ve responded without being defensive. I am a problem solver, and like to solve problems.
- Public Relations: I’ve been able to influence a group of people to rally around my brand’s messaging.
If you answered all seven with a yes, congratulations. You may move on to the next section.
If you answered no to one or more of the above questions, you may not have the proper foundation to manage online communities.
It seems harsh, but I don’t think people really sit back and think about the public messages they’re putting forth each day online.
That one misspelling (it’s PIQUE my interest, not peek) can be the difference between landing a new client and not landing one.
[Image Source: MediaBistro]
Perhaps that one client is the difference between making payroll and losing your best employee because you can’t afford them. And maybe when you lose that employee, your business flounders.
If your business flounders for too long, it may fail.
Am I saying that one spelling mistake means your business will fail? No (we ALL make mistakes).
I’m saying you need to look at it that way, because consumers are becoming more and more critical about what brands they trust, and you can’t afford to let one tiny thing sway them in the competitors direction.
Social Media Skills
I’ve outlined many of these in a post called, “Community Managers: The Good, The Great, The Better If” and on a webinar called, “The 5 Habits Of Highly Successful Community Managers.”
Other SMART skills you need to make it in today’s dumbed down social media world:
- Running ads for the sole purpose of getting “likes”, fans and followers
- Not using the Power Editor for Facebook ads
- Only hitting “boost post” on Facebook for your ads
- Not utilizing ad reporting
- No A/B testing of ads
- Running ads to show a return on investment for a product, service, or event (or to build an email list)
- Using well-researched keywords in your advertising plan
- Knowing your average “fan acquisition rate” for each platform
- A/B testing your ads for better conversions
- Knowing your conversion rate for landing pages
- Utilizing qualitative and quantitative reporting
- Constantly making spelling and grammar mistakes (and don’t fix them once they’re caught)
- Only sharing your original content once (or not at all)
- Only sharing sales content on Google Plus (or your other lesser-used platforms)
- Connecting your Facebook account to Twitter
- Not having a business goals or strategies tied to your content
- Not using content for lead nurturing or list building
- Every post is someone else’s ideas, words, quotes (or a meme)
- You’ve got a 2nd set of eyeballs checking your work
- You have a plan for marketing your marketing
- You stop selling and start helping
- You don’t connect your accounts because … because DUH!
- Business goals drive your social efforts
- Content that is mostly fresh & original
- Constantly sharing jaw-dropping tips with your audience
- No tactics for enticing conversation
- Not responding to conversation online, or doing so days later
- Deleting or ignoring negative comments
- Talking more than you listen
- Always bringing the conversation back to YOU
- Bringing up topics that aren’t relevant to your audience(s)
- TMI (not respecting the personal vs. professional boundaries)
- Not asking questions
- Using social media as a catalyst for conversation, and as a way to become closer with your consumer base
- Responding as real-time as possible to mentions
- Handling negative sentiment with grace and professionalism; solving problems
- ABL – ALWAYS BE LISTENING
- Having a goal to always make it about the customer
- Remaining diligent to being relevant and HELPFUL
- Realizing social media (for business) is not a place to air dirty laundry or private family matters
- Using social channels for market research; ASKING QUESTIONS
Social Media Skills You Can’t Fake
In an excellent article by Raven Tools, author Nicolette V. Beard outlines the 7 skills in social media that can’t be faked. I TOTALLY agree.
- People Skills
- Common Sense
- Time Management
I’d add three more to the list, making it a nice, round 10:
- Problem Solving
- Being Witty (and often on the spot)
- Great Listener
It’s A Complex Job, People!
My point is this: Social media marketing is a complex job consisting of — and requiring — a complicated skill set.
I don’t believe you can “fake it ’till you make it” in social media, and according to most B Squared Media fans, neither do they!
What that means for you is this:
- If you’re working with a social media manager, you probably need to be more appreciative of what all they do for you (or fire them if they skew “dumb” according to the above).
- If you’re thinking about hiring a social media manager, make sure you DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
- If you’re your own social media manager, give yourself a break! This is harder than most people even begin to know (and, you know we had to say this, you might consider outsourcing your social media to someone who can make your life much easier!)
What are your thoughts on our ‘dumbed down’ social world? Do you have any SMART tips that I’ve forgotten? Please sure to let me know in the comments section below!
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Brooke B. Sellas is the in-the-trenches Founder & CEO of @HelloBSquared, an award-winning social media, advertising, and customer care agency. She's also the Co-host of The Marketing Companion podcast with Mark Schaefer, where they discuss jaw-dropping marketing trends. Brooke's marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout!
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