With Google delivering 172,000,000 results for ‘social media job description,’ it’s a safe bet that there’s no single description everyone in digital marketing can agree on. Every company and every service or solution requires skills unique to the culture. I think we can, however, agree upon the most basic requirements: must have excellent verbal and written communication skills.
Most job postings for a social media manager prefer that the individual hold a degree in marketing, communications, journalism or public relations. These prerequisites allow you to weed out initial applicants who don’t meet your needs and represent ‘hard skills’ for which you can test and verify. But, it’s in mastering the ‘soft skills’ that will determine whether your next social media manager will succeed.
The people who are most successful as social media managers possess those intangible qualities that fall under the umbrella ‘emotional intelligence,’ first coined by Daniel Goleman.
Below is a list of essential characteristics one must possess in order to thrive in the online social media marketing sphere; they may be hard to measure, but they’re impossible to fake.
Passion – Enthusiasm trumps everything in social media. Gary Vaynerchuck (@garyvee) and Hugh McLeod (@gapingvoid) possess two distinct personalities and brands, yet made their mark by embracing social media with drive and passion. Leveraging influencers was possible because of their strong belief in what they were doing; it was their persistent zeal that fueled their phenomenal online following and offline success.
Commitment – I’m reminded of Goethe’s quote every time I hear this word: Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness… Although we have the tools and technology that place social media at our fingertips within seconds, I often tell people that social media requires certainty and a long-term strategy. With this in mind, a good social media manager will have the foresight to place contingencies in the plan in the event of a crisis, for example, but also have the maturity not to let petty criticisms cause him or her to stumble.
People skills – This overused term can actually be defined. According to BusinessDictionary.com, ‘people skills’ represent a set of skills enabling a person to get along with others, to communicate ideas effectively, to resolve conflicts and to achieve personal or business goals.
Common sense – There’s a saying ‘common sense isn’t so common,’ and speaks to the challenge hiring managers may have in quantifying this intangible asset. Common sense requires the ability to think on your feet, good judgment, levelheadedness, discernment, astuteness, wisdom, perception and insight.
Time management – Multitasker should be your social media manager’s middle name. Juggling various instant message conversations and open browser tabs is not for the plodder. He/she must be prepared for a constant stream of online activity and handle each social platform with aplomb. The ability to master the Pareto Principle (also known as the 80-20 rule) will help increase posting efficiency.
Empathy – A common trait of good social media managers is their capacity to walk in someone else’s shoes. They understand the wants, needs, thoughts and emotions of their audience. They know how to draw the best out of their fans, whether it’s joining a contest or sharing stories and photos. To be a truly effective social media practitioner requires a service-oriented mindset.
Defining or Unearthing Emotional Intelligence Traits
Whether you’re interviewing for a social media manager position or hiring for that role, you can highlight or unearth soft skills by creating ‘mini-stories.’ As the job seeker, you can create a scenario and discuss how you demonstrated a specific quality. If you’re the interviewer, just shift the point of view and ask relevant open-ended questions that require the interviewee to tell her story.
If you really want to set yourself apart from the hundreds of social media job applicants, then being familiar with the need-to-know programs like simple image editing tools, basic HTML and WordPress will help you secure a social media management position. Knowledge of social media management, monitoring and measurement tools is also a plus.
Combining both soft and hard skills with an established online presence will prove you are completely familiar with the social media marketing space and position you for early success.