Although World Social Media Day was at the end of June, it got us thinking about what it takes to be a social media manager. What skills and qualities do you need to be great at your job?

Here are six essential qualities we think you need:

Creativity

To be effective on social media you not only have to be a good writer, you have to be creative too. Your tweets and posts all need to be accompanied by an appropriate image, video or GIF. Sometimes you may have to create these yourself. Then there’s hashtags for campaigns or events that need to be easy to remember and not too long. And did I mention having to find new and interesting ways to say the same thing? It’s hard.

Quick thinker

Hashtag trends on Twitter change all the time – even from one hour to the next. There may be one trending that’s perfect for your cause but you have to be quick to react to it or miss out on reaching new people. Or, you might find yourself caught up in a campaign that’s quickly going viral – like #NoMakeUpSelfie and #IceBucketChallenge – that needs you to take action fast, or miss out on (potentially) millions of pounds. Being effective on social media requires thought, strategy and planning but it also means being flexible; thinking on your feet and acting quickly to make the most of unexpected and spontaneous opportunities that may arise.

Nomakeupselfie tweet

A good listener

Great social media managers are always listening. They set up searches, specific to their cause or campaigns. They follow what journalists are saying and writing about in relation to their sector. They put people and organisations into lists so that they can easily filter conversations and tweets into specific topics or areas of interest. By listening, they’re able to really understand what people want, what they need and what their sentiment is about something newsworthy or topical. A great social media manager then feeds this insight back to other teams.

Analytical thinking

Not only do you need to be a good writer and creative as a social media manager, you also need to have analytical skills. You need to be able to understand how to set goals and then how to use analytics to determine the success of your content. You also need to be able to analyse current campaigns and tweak as you go along and delve deep into past campaigns to see what worked and what didn’t so that you can improve on the next one.

A thick skin

At some point you’ll need to deal with a troll, someone who is unhappy or angry about something, or even a crisis. Having a bit of a thick skin can really help. Unfortunately people tend to forget that there is a real person behind a Twitter or Facebook account, but remember to not take it personally. If you’re feeling upset or overwhelmed, it’s really important to speak with your manager or a colleague. A problem shared is a problem halved.

Tweet to MSF Sea

The ability to switch off

This quality is undoubtedly the hardest because social media is 24/7 and people’s expectations are so high. Research shows that people now expect a reply on social media from brands within an hour but no longer than 24 hours. Social media is all consuming and social media managers often live and breathe social media – but it’s essential to switch off. There are a few ways you can do this. One is to set people’s expectations by stating the hours that your account is monitored, for example from 9am to 5pm, in your bio or About section. Another is to set up a rota so that you can monitor your accounts for longer, through shifts. It works like a traditional PR rota but obviously it means you need enough staff to be able to do this. Either way, it’s really important to switch off when your working day is over.

Dementia UK Twitter bio

We know that mastering social media is a real skill and an art. To all you social media managers – you rock!

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