What skills does a social media manager need to have?
Social media manager is a wide-reaching term, and often refers to people who plan social media strategies, create content, analyze results, and everything in between.
It’s a varied job role therefore the best social media managers are required to have an extremely broad set of skills.
If you’re an aspiring social media manager, or thinking of becoming one and you’re looking to up your game and score more clients, then it’s important to hone and nurture the important social media skills you need for the job.
In this article, we’ll be looking at the essential skills every social media manager needs to have, and how you can improve and develop your skills using self-study and online resources.
Let’s get started with the first and probably most important skill that every social media manager should possess.
Table of contents
Social media is saturated with brands and influencers trying to get noticed, and therefore it’s super important to be able to develop and implement creative strategies as a social media manager.
There’s no blueprint to follow when it comes to social media marketing, so it’s important to bring a level of creativity to your role that will help you to come up with fresh and engaging content ideas for your clients.
No matter what your social media marketing strategies are focused on, your content ideas should be creative enough to cut through the social media noise, and boost reach and awareness for the brands you’re working for. Here’s an example of what we mean:
Weetabix is a tried and tested household brand that people don’t really think about, and because of that, their social media presence left a lot to be desired.
However, this beany broadcast from the company was so creative that it inspired customers all over the UK to get involved in the fun. It brought humor, and debate to their comment sections, and boosted their social media visibility substantially. This post got over 131K likes and over 20K comments.
Ways to Improve your creativity
Creativity naturally waxes and wanes, but there are some ways you can hone your creativity in order to stay on top in your role as a social media manager. Here are some resources to try:
Creativity inspiring online courses – Check out sites like Skillshare, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning and take part in some creative courses that will help you develop new creative social media skills and keep your frontal cortex healthy.
Fill your day with creative activities – Even when you’re not working, you should try to partake in creative events. For example, you could consider taking part in virtual events hosted on Creative Mornings, or listen to podcasts like The Accidental Creative.
Think outside the box when crafting social media posts – Don’t be afraid to change things up and try new content ideas. Consider apps like SweepWidget and TryInteract for adding new and interesting games and quizzes to your social media posts.
2. Design Skills
A keen eye for design is also essential if you want to succeed as a social manager. When working for brands and companies, you’ll be in charge of managing their brand image online, therefore it’s essential that you can create professional and visually appealing content that helps to build the brand’s reputation.
It’s extremely useful to know your way around popular design tools like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign.
However, if you don’t have these skills, then you should at least be familiar with popular visual editors like Canva.
Whether you have time to spend hours agonizing over an upcoming post, or you need to create a quick graphic on the fly to add to your Instagram Story, you need to be able to create a professional design quickly and easily and spot any flaws in your designs before they’re published.
Take this post from HubSpot for example:
On the surface, it looks like a simple graphic. However, the color scheme, graphic elements, and tiny details such as the 3D effect of the paper slip make it look more professional and suitable for use on a brand’s business account.
Ways to improve your design skills
Online design courses – There are tons of courses online that will help you to improve your design and social media skills. Search on platforms like Skillshare and LinkedIn Learning and you’ll find tons of courses that can help you develop your creative design skills, learn new design programs, and more.
Keep up to date with design trends – What’s considered ‘good design’ is forever changing, so it’s important to stay up to date with current trends so your content doesn’t look outdated. You can stay up to date by subscribing to design magazines like Print, and Digital Arts.
As a social media manager, you’ll be in charge of planning and creating content for the brands that you work with. Therefore, great social media skills and particularly writing skills are extremely important, as you’ll essentially be the acting voice of all the brands that you work with.
So, any written content you create needs to be engaging, professional, and also grammatically correct. It’s always a good idea to only produce written content in your native language.
If you’re producing social media content in English, but you don’t speak English natively, consider outsourcing writing to a native English speaker, or have your content checked by an editor before publishing. This will ensure the quality of your writing is up to standard.
After that, the main thing you should focus on is making your written content as compelling and engaging as possible. Here’s a great example of this:
This Twitter post from Know Your Lemons is snappy, straight to the point, but also very attention-grabbing. It uses the definition format, an interesting literary device, as well as relevant hashtags. It’s also written in a casual but concise tone that makes it easy for readers to understand.
With social media, you may not always have a ton of words to work with, but it’s still possible to make your writing engaging, compelling, and personable.
Tips for improving your writing for social media
Check your grammar – Use apps like the Hemingway app and Grammarly to ensure that your writing is coherent and grammatically correct. While these tools aren’t foolproof, they can provide an easy way to sense check your writing.
Expand your vocabulary – Follow social media accounts such as Miriam-Webster to learn new words, slang terms, and more.
4. Community engagement skills
When planning your social media campaigns, it’s important to fully understand the online community that you are targeting and create content that is engaging for them.
To do this, you need to be able to put yourself in the shoes of your average follower and consider what type of topics and content will be the most interesting and personable.
The best way to do this is to stay up to date with current news and adapt a brand voice that is more relatable for your audience. Here’s an example of this:
Wendy’s is a huge nationwide corporation, but this post advertising a free offer is written in such a way that is much more relatable to followers. It uses colloquial language and bridges that gap between the corporation and the consumer. This is the perfect way to create engaging content that inspires comments and interactions from consumers.
In addition to crafting relatable posts, it’s also super important to respond to comments in a friendly and relatable way.
Pro tip: By using a tool like Agorapulse, you can easily manage all of your interactions in a unified social inbox, and this means that you can quickly respond to most of your commentors. When doing so, air away from constrained, business-like responses, and engage with the community on a human level.
5. Customer service and complaints management
No matter how hard you try, not all of your brand interactions will be positive on social media, and you have to be prepared for the times when you do come across disgruntled followers that are looking for solutions to their problems.
The key to customer service and complaints management in these situations is to be patient, polite, and understanding.
Also, you should aim to take the conversation to a private outlet as quickly as possible to prevent damage to the brand’s image. Here’s an example of a great way to handle complaints on social media:
JetBlue’s customer made a public twitter complaint about a broken TV on their flight. The social media rep responded quickly and personally and asked a follow-up question to show that they were genuinely interested in resolving the issue.
Then, they swiftly took the resolution process to their DM’s, whilst publically noting their suggested resolution for other social media users to see. They avoided generic responses that can further aggravate customers and dealt with them in a timely and professional manner.
Extra tips for handling negative social interactions
When working with brands, be sure to ask them how they would like their complaints handled, as they may have processes in place for this. Also, consider using a tool like Brand24 to monitor brand sentiment and mentions, and this can help you notice negative comments or complaints right away.
Whether you’re working with just one company, or you’re managing social for a range of different brands, it’s absolutely essential to be organized.
There are tons of things to remember, like key campaign dates, post ideas, scheduling, log-in details, and much, much more.
So it’s extremely important to have an airtight organization strategy in place. When it comes to organization, digital tools are your best friend. With the perfect tool stack of social media marketing tools, you can ensure that you manage every element of your client’s social media campaigns effectively.
Tools for staying organized as a social media manager
Agorapulse – This all-in-one tool can help you manage social media inboxes, plan your content schedule, and more.
Pallyy – This tool is a powerful scheduling tool focused around visual content. It supports popular social media networks and has some extra features for Instagram.
Trello – This tool can be used to manage your tasks and workflows.
Notion – Most project management tools for you to use a pre-defined workflow. With Notion, you can create a workflow and dashboard that fits the unique needs of your business.
Google Workspace – You can use this to create content, spreadsheets, and more and keep them all saved and organized online.
Although you may work remotely as a social media manager, there will be no lack of socialization and communication with this role. You’ll need to be constantly communicating with your clients, and clients that you are hoping to work with in the future.
Therefore, you need to be able to communicate with them effectively to make sure that no wires get crossed, and everybody is up to speed and in agreement with any social media plans that you have.
Good communication is all about being polite, professional, but also being clear and concise enough to get your message across and keep everybody in the loop.
Tips for communicating effectively with your clients
Get everything in writing – Sometimes, communicating over the phone or on video chat is the best way to stay in touch with your clients. However, information gets lost in translation if you don’t write it down. Be sure to follow up voice or video chats with emails detailing what was covered in the chat, so that everyone remembers what was discussed.
Choose an easy Instant messaging tool – Being able to connect with your clients quickly is super important. Emails work ok for this, but it’s better to use a tool like Slack to connect with your clients.
You can use Slack to give regular updates about your progress or have more private conversations with individual members of your team.
Social media is ever-evolving and if you work with different clients, you need to be ready to adapt your strategy to incorporate the social media platforms and content types that they want to use.
Therefore, it’s important to have an open mind to new platforms and formats and be willing to incorporate new trends into your strategies.
How to be more adaptable
Stay up to date with the latest trends – By keeping your finger on the pulse when it comes to social media, you’ll be more prepared if you need to incorporate new platforms and content styles into your social media strategy.
As a social media manager, you’ll be on a constant learning journey, so it’s good to take time out of your schedule to develop your own knowledge and understanding of current trends
Don’t overfill your schedule – If you have too much on your schedule, it’s harder to be able to adapt your plans at short notice.
However, if you really want to deliver great service to your clients, leave some spare room on your schedule each week so that you can be flexible if your clients want to make any changes.
Even if you don’t make any changes to your plans, you can use your spare time to research and learn about the current trends.
9. Marketing and Analytics skills
A good social media manager needs to be able to think bigger than just social media. It’s important to create strategies that align with your client’s overall marketing goals and to do this, requires you to have at least a basic understanding of digital and traditional marketing methods.
However, according to Sprout Social, almost 50% of marketers find crafting social media strategies that align with the overall business goal extremely challenging.
Social media campaigns go hand in hand with most other marketing channels such as paid advertising, email marketing, and more, so the more you know, the better.
You should also be familiar with using social media analytics tools to measure how well your own campaigns are performing, and how they are impacting other areas of the marketing strategy.
Ways to improve your marketing skills
Familiarise yourself with common marketing tools – If you can navigate tools like HubSpot, and MailerLite as well as popular social tools like Agorapulse, and SocialBee, you’ll gain a better understanding of business marketing as a whole. The more tools you can learn about and get experience using the better.
Learn more from marketing experts – There are tons of experts sharing the latest marketing information via podcasts, blogs, and more, so be sure to stay up to date with thought leaders to learn more about the industry. Some good resources include Backlinko and The Marketing Scoop podcasts.
Take digital marketing courses – If you want to give yourself an overall understanding of the digital marketing industry, the best thing you can do is take a course. There are tons of great courses available online. uDemy is often a good starting point.
As a social media manager, it’s also useful to be good at crunching the numbers, to ensure that you aren’t exceeding your client’s budgets when running paid advertising campaigns or paying content creators and influencers.
It’s not always easy to manage the financial side of a social media campaign, but the first thing you need to do is clarify the budget with your client, and make sure that you are all in agreement before you spend any money.
How to effectively manage a social media budget
After that, it’s a good idea to use a Google Docs spreadsheet to help you stay on top of things.
If you want to make things more customizable, you could opt to use a nifty project management tool called Notion. It allows you to build your own project management system, and includes various document templates – including budgeting spreadsheets.
Regardless of which tool you use, you need an easy way to share a copy of the document with your client.
Share a copy of your document with your client, be sure to update it regularly, and log expenses as soon as they occur. Like many things related to social media management, the key to managing your budget is a good organization.
Always ensure that you have double and triple-checked the figures that you’re inputting into the document and save copies of your receipts and invoices in a digital folder so that your clients can use them for accounting purposes.
11. Business Management
Although there are some contracted social media manager positions available, most social media managers work on a freelance basis for a selection of different clients. If this is a route you’re going to take, then it’s important to have some essential business skills, to help you to manage things on your end.
You’ll need to know how to manage your own accounting, draw up contracts and invoices for your clients, and brand your business in a way that attracts new clients.
All of these tasks are extremely important when working as a freelancer or running a small business, so it’s a good idea to learn the skills required to handle this side of the job.
Tips for managing a social media management business
Set up a good accounting process – Accounting can get complicated quickly if you don’t stay on top of it, so be sure to choose an accounting solution like QuickBooks to manage your finances easily.
Set aside time for marketing and other tasks – If you’re working freelance, you’ll need to allocate time for marketing your business and getting new clients. So make sure you don’t fill your whole schedule with client tasks, as you’ll have no time left to make new connections and secure future projects with new clients.
Consider outsourcing business tasks – Managing the business side of things can be time-consuming, so don’t shy away from outsourcing some of your marketing and business management tasks. If your clients are paying you a higher enough rate, it would make sense to outsource some less critical tasks. Freelance job websites like Fiverr and Upwork can be a good starting point.
So there you have it, the essential social media skills that every social manager should possess. Hopefully, this article has helped you learn more about becoming a social media manager, and how to improve your skills and grow your business.
If you want to learn more about social media skills, management, organization, and tools, check out some of our other posts. Our posts on social media management tools, social media statistics, and the best times to post on social media are all good starting points.
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