People have this manner of thinking these days that it is their social responsibility to share everything with their virtual connections: what they ate, what they are wearing, what they think about last night’s basketball game, and how they looked when they were merely toddlers. What is even more interesting is how convinced they are that it is also the responsibility of their online friends to actually care.

Photo courtesy of via Pinterest
Photo courtesy of via Pinterest

Social media has transformed communication in every way possible. It is revolutionizing the way we interact, the way we consume information, and how we decide. More recently, brand marketers are raving about how social media marketing moves consumers from “sharing” to purchase.

A research by Invesp showed that 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals and four out of ten users have actually purchased an item online or in-store after making a certain website a “favorite.” It is no wonder that more and more companies, especially start-up ones, are pumping up marketing efforts in social networking sites. A 2014 LinkedIn research shows that 81% of small and medium-sized businesses use social media for marketing and brand engagement purposes. If your company plans to join the pack, which it should, it is important that only effective social media specialists make the cut. Remember that while the platform is online, skills remain offline.

Social Media Listener

Social media is a very dynamic platform, making it necessary to monitor and understand conversations more closely. Killer social skills include having the ability to listen to what’s being said about your brand, your competition, as well as topics that are of interest to your audience. It is only in listening that you are able to collaborate and interact effectively. This will help you in measuring behavior and changes in opinion that will lead to creating more meaningful and relevant content.

Relationship Expert

Being social is all about engagement and maintaining a relationship with your audience. It is the easiest platform to interact so another necessary skill for a social media specialist would be knowing how to nurture the connection. Help your followers with their questions and concerns and lead them to higher level of interactions. Get to know them better by starting a discussion and do not ignore their feedbacks. Remember that a brand’s relationship with its followers should never be complicated.

Effective Writer

How can one write effectively with 140 characters? Social networking sites have imposed some restrictions with how we communicate online, that is why a social media skills test should always include the ability to rise above these limitations. Writing a tweet is much like writing a headline — you have to be able to communicate what you mean in one phrase or sentence and still look interesting.

Blogging also requires versatile writing skills. A social media specialist should be equipped to write for every market. Look for someone who can be technical, practical, and emotional. Look for someone who can make your followers think but also make them laugh in a snap. Look for someone who has a way with words and could spark passion and interest almost effortlessly.

Image Specialist

You don’t have to earn a degree in photography or graphics design to know which photos and images are worth more than a thousand words. Social media is a very visual platform and most followers decide on whether to click on something by the photo they see. Aside from choosing appropriate and attention-grabbing images, social media marketers must also be familiar with softwares and applications that help create effective images and graphics. A data driven social media strategy will be a bore, so have specialists that go beyond words and know how to think visually.

“Viral” Specialist

Every brand aims at being “liked” and “shared.” Every brand aims to engage their followers. A social media strategist must be fully aware of what type of content has the potential to go “viral.” It’s like listening to a tune and knowing immediately if it is going to be a hit. Virality is a key objective of social media marketing because it makes the brand relevant, makes it look credible, and introduces it to other potential followers.

Social Media Mathematics

You can’t go on creating content regularly without knowing which actually works and what might work. This will save you precious time and effort. Find someone who can convert social media metrics to a marketing strategy. Statistical analysis ought to be integrated into larger business functions. A social media specialist should be able to identify what types of content gets shared the most, how many followers are active, how many followers “unfollowed” and how to win them back. Measuring social media metrics will help a brand position itself and get to know its audience.

Risk Manager

Public relations, online or offline, should include effective risk management. Social media is so powerful that it can make or break your brand in a single post. Protect your brand at all times by addressing issues quickly and releasing key information to build your brand’s credibility. Prevent crisis by being a pro-active listener and don’t be put off with internet trolls.

Strategic Thinker

This is a critical quality to look for in a social media expert. This demands experience and practice. One must live up to what the brand is trying to achieve and how can social media be used for that purpose. Strategic thinking also means making sure social media goals are aligned with other business objectives and how to integrate it to other brand communications strategies.

Social Innovator

A strategist should never get left behind all the changes and innovations and in the process have the skills to be an innovator himself. Not all social media marketing rules are written and experience should equip a potential expert with the skills necessary to make new rules and break new grounds. For example, BuzzFeed showed just how much lists and top-of-whatever are “shareable.” The use of graphics interchange format or GIFs is also a welcome addition.

Social media is an ever-evolving platform. It requires dynamism, creativity, and analysis. Hiring a social media specialist who has a full understanding of the medium and how to make it work are critical skills one should look for. To achieve total brand engagement, a specialist should know how to build and strengthen relationship with followers. Collaboration and strategic planning are key to social media marketing success.