Does social media marketing require IT knowledge?
I have to answer with a resounding YES! But not for the reasons you might expect.
As others have pointed out, the average daily duties of a social media marketing manager don’t require you to have even remotely the same skills as anyone working in IT. You can totally get by in social media marketing without having any IT skills.
However, I did say, you can “get by.” Having these skills can be a HUGE asset! The IT skills are super useful in many ways:
Buying Social analytics & management tools. When we are researching which tool a client should use for social media data analytics or as a dashboard for responding to posts on Facebook, Twitter, G+, etc, we know when the vendor is lying about limitations imposed by Facebook’s API, and can infer what is really going on, how likely they are to fix (or be able to fix) problems with the tool, etc. This helps us (and our clients) avoid potential problems with these tools that someone without the same knowledge might miss.
Building social analytics reports and platforms. We have a lot of knowledge in-house on how to build custom social media reports using API calls and even built our own in-house SMM analytics tool that automates a ton of weekly and monthly reporting that we used to have to do manually in Excel. Even back then we utilized Excel “personal” spreadsheets to easily store and run macros we created in-house to automatically create graphs from the KPI’s we wanted to measure and copy them into Powerpoint decks. The sheer amount of work we were able to automate has allowed us to remain a small team without relying on freelancers, and to spend our social media reporting time focused on what happened, why and what our clients should do as a result, rather than on manually building graphs.
Understanding our clients better. Many of our clients are technology companies. Having a deeper level of understanding as to how their products work makes us more effective at working with them.
As Reem already mentioned, people’s assumptions about consumers are often incorrect. To really understand your online social communities, you need to analyze the social behaviour data to learn more about them, so having the knowledge to easily build social media reports for whatever information you want or need without having to spend hours every week in Excel just building the graphs before you can even begin working on actually analyzing them is a valuable skill to have.
Again, you don’t necessarily have to have these skills to work as a social media marketer, nor will most positions expect you to have them, but they most certainly are a great value add for anyone who might employ you, giving you a leg up that most of your competition just won’t have.
Also, just because no one expects you to have these skills doesn’t mean your agency/client-side employer doesn’t still need them. Your lacking these skills just means they also have to hire someone else who does have these skills to support you, or pay a third-party for the social media analytics tools that can save you time, but cost your employer money. Or, even worse (for you), it means you have to go without them entirely, and lose out on the time saving benefits that those skills could have brought you. This means you end up spending more time grinding away on busy work, rather than providing value for your employer/clients.
That’s another great reason to learn these skills. Not only does it make you more valuable to brands and agencies, but it can also help you learn to automate tasks and save yourself time. If you’re spending less time on building graphs on social media behavior and more time on analyzing them and understanding the what, how, why, when, and who of what happened, and what needs to happen next as a result, then you’re going to be more effective at your job because you’re spending more of the portion of your time devoted to social media analytics on providing value, rather than spending more of that time on busy work that gets you to the point where you can finally start providing value.
Other important skills to have
According to SproutSocial, there is a number of other important and useful skills that social media executive and / or manager must possess:
Community Management. One of the core foundations of what social media was built on is being inherently “social.” This means that establishing and building a digital relationship is still a treasured attribute. Community management refers to being able to navigate the online sphere of promoting your brand while engaging with your customers. It can mean slowly converting an observer into a customer by patiently answering questions. It can also be demonstrating what your customers are talking about when they post on social media.
Sales and Customer Service. If your sales and marketing funnel involves social media like it should, you’ll find that sales leads inevitably fall into your inbox. Make the sales lead transfer as seamless as possible by asking for the information upfront instead of making them email you. When 34.5% of customers prefer social media as their customer care option, you need to be able to navigate the ‘flow’ of the customers. Being able to provide empathetic care in a short, digital format is different from face-to-face customer service. The social media manager should be able to clearly articulate solutions for the customer while making the customer feel heard.
Besides, Hootsuite states, understanding the link between search engine optimization (SEO) and social media reach can be confusing. Google suggests that social signals do not overtly affect your SEO rankings, but the full picture is more complicated.
Content that has a high social reach and gets lots of shares, likes, and comments is likely going to get similar engagement metrics that will be read by Google’s algorithm and positively impact your rankings. This is a correlation rather than a causation, so while you do not want to build your social media plan around SEO, it is a great idea to know the common mistakes that social media managers often make. Luckily, there are some great SEO tools out there. LSI Graph will identify relevant keywords and phrases according to what has been searched on Google along with your main keyword.
Apart from that, some video content creation skills are important. Video content is unquestionably an important way to reach your audience. Over 500 million people are watching video on Facebook every day, according to Cisco’s research into global IP video traffic. And few years from now, video content is poised to account for 80 percent of all consumer internet traffic.
Social media managers need the abilities to create compelling content for platforms like Instagram Stories, Facebook Live broadcasts, and Snapchat Stories. And with all these options, you will also need to know how to optimize your video for all of your different social media marketing channels.
One of the main advantages of social media for businesses is that it enables you to interact with your potential and existing customers. Social networks provide the opportunity to start a conversation with your consumers and deliver the right marketing message to the right individual.
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