What Makes A Social Media Expert?

Over the past few weeks, the same Tweet has been showing up in my feed. To paraphrase, it basically says that more people than really should be are calling themselves social media experts. Three times, I’ve asked the person who sent the Tweet for clarification and three times, I’ve not gotten an answer. So, I suppose that’s one trait we disagree on – engagement. I believe a willingness to engage with your audience is critical, but clearly, this individual does not. Since I haven’t gotten my answer from the originator of the Tweet, here are the basic traits I think social media experts should have.

1. An understanding of marketing and communications strategy

When you or your company decide to jump into social media marketing, it’s not just a matter of opening a bunch of accounts across a number of platforms and just starting to blog, Tweet and post whatever is on your mind on any give day. Social media is an additional piece of your overall marketing mix – and you need to plan accordingly. What platforms make sense to reach your particular audience? What are you going to say to them? What messages make sense online? What will you do to engage your online audience? How often will you post to your blog (keeping in mind consistency is critical)? Is your online message consistent with your offline message? Are you ensuring that you’re talking with, not at, your online audience?

2. A willingness to talk to your audience

Social media is just that: social. It’s about two-way conversations instead of just pushing out your messages. When you put yourself and your business in front of your customers on social media platforms, it’s a given that they will use these channels to talk to you. And you need to be willing and able to listen and respond appropriately (people are always watching). Putting someone in charge of social media who doesn’t have excellent customer relations skills may mean the difference between positive customer interactions and swift, possibly earned, negative attention.

3. A sense of urgency

The speed at which social media moves in unprecedented in the business world. Customer interactions take place faster than ever – it’s easier to send a Tweet to a company than it is to pick up the phone, send an email or (if you can find an actual physical address on a website) write a letter. You need to be willing to respond just as quickly. Oh, and publicly, too – unless someone sends you a direct message, all of your interactions will be out in front of everyone online.

4. The ability to be “real”

Posting marketing messages to your social media sites of choice without having a personality is not what your audience expects. You need to be willing to have a human voice, and be willing to engage customers in discussions about subjects other than their products or services. Sometimes, even adding your community manager’s name to your Twitter profile will help add a personal touch to your interactions.

5. A willingness to take the time

Social media may be a cost-effective way to promote your message and engage your audience, but it does take time. Budgeting enough time to strategize your activities, respond to customers, see what your competitors are doing and measuring and monitoring your successes and failures is critical.

6. The ability to sort out the good from the bad data

Monitoring and listening are critical to knowing what’s happening in your company’s world. What are people saying? How often are they talking about you and your competitors? Where is your traffic coming from? There is so much data to gather about your online audience, but it takes someone with great analytical skills to use the listening tools, interpret the data and offer an honest view of your online reputation.

I could devote pages and pages of my blog to the subject of social media expertise. But, I’m going to leave it to you – what traits would you suggest make a person a social media expert and why? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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