10 key traits and skills for today’s social media manager

Online engagement and brand advocacy become more complex every day. Here are some essentials for those herding virtual cats on an ever-expanding array of platforms.

What does it take to be a great social media manager?

Look at the following seven skills and three traits, as well as relevant resources to help you improve in those areas.

7 skills that top social media managers share:

1. Copywriting

Writing good copy is required in many areas of a social media manager’s role, from filling up your social media profile description to crafting tweets and Facebook posts.

Study formulas to help you craft inspiring copy. Formulas can be a great productivity boost and can improve the quality of your content.

One of my favorite copywriting techniques is the before/after/bridge formula. Here’s how it works:

Before: Here’s your world …

After: Imagine what it’d be like, having Problem A solved …

Bridge: Here’s how to get there.



2. Design (graphics and videos)

Research has found that social media posts with images generate more engagement, and 43 percent of consumers want to see more video content.

Social media has moved away from mostly plain text updates toward visual content such as images and videos. Designing and creating visual content are becoming essential for social media managers.


3. Public Speaking

With features and apps such as Facebook Live, Instagram Live and Periscope, live videos are becoming more important. Forty-two percent of marketers seek to create more live videos.

Marketers are excited about live video for two reasons: reach and engagement. Facebook Live videos are likely to appear higher in the News Feed when those videos are live than when they are no longer live. From an engagement perspective, live content also provides an opportunity for high engagement and one-to-one interactions with fans and followers.

To tap into the live video trend, social media managers have to be confident enough to go live on social media to connect with their audience. Having public speaking skills will help you to present your ideas, interview guests, answer impromptu questions and chat with your followers in real time.


4. Customer Service / Community Engagement

Social media is the top channel people go to for customer care, but only 21 percent of businesses use social media for customer support. This means there’s a huge opportunity here to provide remarkable customer service experiences.

As the online face of the organization, social media managers must have conversation skills and empathy to help their customers.

Community engagement is comparable: A great social media community manager asks the right questions to facilitate engagement and answers questions about the product, company or industry.


5. Behavioral Psychology

With data and analytics, you know which types of social media posts do well. Behavioral psychology tells you the why—for example, why are people attracted to certain posts? Why do people share certain posts?

Knowing the what helps you to spot trends and repeat successes; knowing the why helps you understand the underlying causes for those trends and create future successes.

For example, your data might tell you that your tweets with images are doing better than text-only tweets. Based on that information alone, you might create more tweets with images. However, it could be that your followers prefer visual content overall. Without knowing the psychology behind trends, you might miss out on opportunities to create other types of visual content such as videos and GIFs.

You certainly don’t need a degree or high level of expertise in psychology to be a social media manager, but a keenness to learn and understand psychology is an important skill.


6. Analytics

I use the term “analytics” quite broadly here, referring to both social media metrics (e.g., “likes,” comments, shares) and business metrics (e.g., traffic, leads, conversions, revenue). A great social media manager understands both and ties them together to give an overall view of the company’s social media performance against business goals.

A social media manager should be the guiding light in your business when it comes to measuring your performance across various social channels. Learning the ins and outs of social media metrics and judging which are meaningful for your business is essential for a social media manager.

For example, if your goal is to drive traffic from social media channels to your website and drive sales, attributing traffic and conversions to specific channels and even certain posts will help your team understand which content is helping you achieve your goals.

Knowing how to read and interpret data has become an important skill for social media managers.


7. Budgeting

Apart from paid advertising, you might have to budget for things like a social media management tool, designs, images or courses to improve yourself. Having basic financial and budgeting knowledge can make you better on the job.

Though you need not be an Excel expert, understanding Excel and knowing what you can do with it can be valuable.

(Image from HubSpot)


3 personality traits of great social media managers:

1. Curiosity

A curious social media manager immerses herself in the social media world, staying up to date with the latest developments and experimenting with new social media marketing strategies.

My company’s social media manager epitomizes this quality. When we discovered that videos, especially live videos, are becoming popular on social media, he immediately started making more videos on Facebook and Twitter. When Snap launched Spectacle, he got it as soon as he could to try it out and figure out how marketers can use it in their social media strategies.

HubSpot VP of Marketing Meghan Keaney Anderson said this well when she described her ideal social media hire:

“We really look for people who have their finger on the pulse of how social [media] is changing. It is one of the most rapidly changing industries right now, and I want someone who is paying attention to it, who is enthralled by it and fascinated by it. … Things shift so fast. If you think about the social media channels that were dominant two years ago and the social media channels that are dominant today, it’s just a totally different world.”


2. Adaptability

Adaptability complements curiosity. When you discover something new or spot a trend, quickly adjusting to it can keep you ahead of the curve.

For example, the most engaging type of social media content has shifted from texts to images to videos. In a Fast Company article, Mark Zuckerberg said:

“Most of the content 10 years ago was text, and then photos, and now it’s quickly becoming videos,” Zuckerberg said, justifying Facebook’s aggressive push into the area. “I just think that we’re going to be in a world a few years from now where the vast majority of the content that people consume online will be video.”

A great social media manager keeps up with such changes and picks up the necessary skills (e.g., graphic design, video production). Now imagine the possibilities when virtual reality becomes the prevailing content format.


3. Business savvy

Generating “likes” and shares is great; knowing how social media fits in with the entire business strategy is even better. A business-savvy social media manager sees the bigger picture and understands the role of social media in the organization.

They understand which metrics are most relevant and crucial to the business and how social media can help to push them higher. For example, a B2B social media manager might focus on generating leads for her sales team, whereas a B2C social media manager might focus on increasing customer purchases directly. This way, her impact goes beyond social media to the entire organization.


Though needn’t be proficient in every area mentioned above, excelling at a few of them would make you a terrific social media manager and a greater asset to your company.

What other skills and traits do you think are important for a social media manager to have?

A version of this article originally appeared on the Buffer blog.


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