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Advice / Career Paths / Exploring Careers

Want to Work in Social Media? Develop These 3 Not-So-Obvious Skills

If you’re a social media enthusiast who spends your waking hours liking, loving, sharing, and +1ing, you may be looking for ways to turn your social enthusiasm into a full-time job. And with brands recognizing the power of the medium and looking for qualified people to help them launch and grow their platforms, there’s no better time to go for it than now.

But, before you start stalking social media jobs, check out these three not-so-obvious skill sets that are crucial for any successful social media guru.

1. Data Scouring

It’s no surprise that in order to be great at social media, you need to have a way with words (and grammar!). But, as this social media professional discovered, you need to find a way to be good with data, too. Companies are investing heavily in building out their social platforms—and the resources to support them—and they want to know how that investment is impacting their audience engagement, website traffic, and brand awareness.

First step? Make friends with Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, and Twitter Analytics. These are all free services that provide a breakdown around your social media efforts. When digging into these platforms, focus on not only familiarizing yourself with how they work, but also the analytics they’re highlighting—like demographics, growth, and engagement. Since social media can serve so many purposes within a company, it’s important to understand which pieces of data correspond to each of your goals.

Then, make even better friends with the number-loving research department.

2. Writing in 140 Characters

Many marketing professionals, journalists, and PR people make the jump to social media jobs, relying heavily on their writing background. And while writing for social media is different than writing press releases for several reasons, the most important is this: Social media is all about consuming bite-sized, easily shareable pieces of content. Trying to get your audience excited about what you’re saying is hard enough, but when you need to do it in 140 characters or less, it becomes a seriously sought-after skill.

If you’re struggling with brevity, remember that social writing should include these three things: Getting the most compelling piece of information across, writing the post in the genuine voice of your brand, and phrasing it in the most engaging way possible (e.g., can you ask a question instead of stating a fact?). If you’re looking for social media writing help, check out online courses, like Mediabistro’s “Writing and Editing for the Web.”

3. Being Quick on Your Feet

I don’t need to tell you that social media moves fast. And as a social media professional, you’re going to be responsible for staying on top of it. If there’s a company crisis, you’re going to need to talk to your audience about it on your social platforms ASAP. If you post a great piece of content that has your audience talking, you’re going to want to be there to monitor what they’re saying and, more importantly, talk back to them. Bottom line: Social doesn’t sleep or take Christmas vacations. So if you’re in charge of a company’s social media account, you’re always on call and expected to think quickly.

To stay on top of it all, find yourself a great social media tracking tool—like Hootsuite—that will help you monitor your platforms all in one place and that allows you to schedule content in advance. Also, make sure you set up each platform so that you’re emailed every time someone engages with your brand.

The upside? As my fiancé recently asked, “Do you really get to play on Instagram all day?” And the answer is: Yes, I really do.

Image of social media skills courtesy of Shutterstock.