Six skills you need to be an effective social media manager

Social media icons on phone screen

Although the role of a social media manager is a relatively new job title on the market, it's a key one for many modern businesses trying to engage with potential customers.

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, to name a few, are no longer just chat platforms - they act as a powerful source of advertising, and in many cases are the face of a business. As companies have become savvier with their social presences, their demand for specific skills to reach the widest online audiences has also increased. Businesses want to exploit social platforms to their fullest, and for that they will typically appoint a social media manager.

Yet regardless of the industry, there are a number of skills and traits that all applicants should work towards in order to thrive on social media.

Creative copywriting

Writing is perhaps one of the most fundamental skills you will need to have to thrive on social media. Everything you do, from creating posts to maintaining profiles and bios, will involve writing copy that is engaging enough to sell a brand or message.

You'll need to learn to summarise content into snappy posts that accurately reflect what is being shared, in a tone that suits your audience. Remember, you're fighting for a user's attention in a sea of other posts, so every word counts.

A flair for design

An organisation's social media account needs to have some consistency to its social media posts, yet there is room for creative flair.

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to experiment with this is through the use of images and video. It's proven time and time again that social posts that make use of pictures or eye-catching content perform significantly better. However, choosing the right image, or creating an eye-catching thumbnail, requires not only an artistic touch, but an understanding of the audience: the social posts for a teen demographic will be drastically different to what will appear on an account targeting business users.

Video in particular is proving to be an immensely popular form of content, ranked third among the most sought after types of post. Having the ability to create video content to promote a story or a company message is a highly sought-after skill.

Gifs, charts, polls, custom images... every post can be brought to life in some way.

Strong public speaker

If you're preparing for the possibility of making lots of video content, you'll also need to be comfortable enough to appear in them from time to time.

Many businesses rely on their social media manager as a means of communicating directly with their audience and customers, and to do that successfully you will need to be comfortable with public speaking.

This may be in the form of a spoken segment to a camera, in which you explain a topic or something the business has been working on, or it may include live video sessions. The latter has become more popular recently as Facebook now favours live video content on its news feed over recorded videos.

Whether it be interviews, Q&As, reviews, or simply a short announcement, confident speakers will engage an audience far more effectively, and ideally entertain them enough so that they come back for more. This is important, because an audience's impression of a video will shape their attitude towards the brand.

Understanding analytics

Knowing how to craft the best social post is meaningless unless you're able to draw insight from how well it performs. Analytics and performance metrics act as a guide for developing a social strategy, helping to identify what works and what doesn't, how resources should be best spent, and what approaches serve your business best.

Business needs may change over time, for example a sudden need to drive clicks to a particular piece of content or campaign may appear. With an understanding of metrics, the best social media managers will know precisely what will deliver that goal, whether it be specially crafted posts or the use of video content. Tools like BuzzSumo and Buffer can help social media managers track their posts' performance.


The social media manager is typically on the front line of an organisation, and in some cases the only opportunity a company has to engage directly with an audience. It is important therefore that anyone operating a company's social accounts are doing so with the business in mind, rather than using them as a second personal profile. Maintaining an air of professionalism is important for gaining the trust of the audience - that means avoiding Twitter spats and avoiding lengthy conversations with users.

An understanding of business operations is also essential for getting the most out of the audience - for example, B2B social media managers will assist sales teams by helping to generate and nurture leads.

Ability to adapt

The social media environment is constantly in flux, and it's important that a social media manager remains on top of the latest trends and is able to respond accordingly with new content strategies. As mentioned, video content is rising in popularity and many companies want to exploit it. Being able to change to meet growing demand will help ensure that the business is at the forefront of new social media trends.

It may also be that trends are platform-specific, such as Facebook boosting live video on news feeds. It's essential then that managers are able to create tailored strategies for each platform that are flexible enough adapt to new ways of promoting content.

Main image: Jason Howie/CC - body images: Bigstock

Dale Walker

Dale Walker is the Managing Editor of ITPro, and its sibling sites CloudPro and ChannelPro. Dale has a keen interest in IT regulations, data protection, and cyber security. He spent a number of years reporting for ITPro from numerous domestic and international events, including IBM, Red Hat, Google, and has been a regular reporter for Microsoft's various yearly showcases, including Ignite.