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Five Things Every Social Media Expert Needs to be Successful

Perhaps you regularly contribute to your own personal social media sites. And maybe you have tons of followers (including a few celebrities). As impressive as you may think that is, it doesn’t mean you can call yourself a social media expert.  At least not the kind of social media expert who uses social media to effectively market a company or drive website visits and sales for your employer or client.

Unfortunately, we live in a time where everyone claims to be a “social media expert” just because they have a blog or use social channels.  But in order to be an asset to a company’s marketing team today, you need to make sure you’ve got the necessary qualifications to make an impact. If you are currently interviewing, make sure your resume shows how your background shaped your skills in these areas:

 1. Creativity

I’m not just talking witty puns and imaginative posts filled with artsy photos from Instagram. True social media experts think outside of the box and can readily provide the perfect tweet, photo, or blog post when the rest of the team is experiencing a temporary lack of creativity or ideas.

Let’s say the unthinkable happens and PR damage control is necessary.  Social media experts need to be quick on their feet and ready with a solution using social media to help clean up the mess, as social outlets are usually the first place companies address an issue.  Remember that social media marketing is about connecting with the public in real-time in a personal way.

Transparency and genuineness is key in social media so use your creativity to come up with new ideas that promote the company’s human side.

2. Education

Most employers looking to fill a social media expert role require at least a bachelor’s degree in one of the following majors: public relations, marketing, communication, English, or journalism.

Quality writing is a major part of the various aspects of social media, which is why employers tend to gravitate towards candidates with degrees in these subjects.  The skills potential candidates learn in these courses help build the foundation of a successful social media expert.

While many employers don’t require a master’s degree, it doesn’t hurt to have a graduate level degree in communication, public relations, or marketing.  Graduate programs provide real-life skills to already promising candidates and can provide a much needed boost if two candidates are head to head.

3. Professional writing experience

Everyone can write, but not everyone can write well.  Social media experts must be exceptional writers and perfect the art of writing for an audience.  This is not as easy as it may sound, as the voice of your writing must match the various audiences you write for.

If you work in social media marketing, a majority of your responsibilities include creating interesting and imaginative content.  In social, content is king so these must be impactful, relevant, grammatically correct, and error-free.

Your writing portfolio should include samples that highlight your ability to write well across a number of different projects.  Feel free to include the term papers you’re particularly proud of, but make sure you lead with the op-ed piece you wrote for your local paper, the press release you created for a previous employer, or the links to articles you’ve written for other blogs.  Professional writing experience is a major plus for most employers.

4. Marketing experience

Many mistakenly believe that basic knowledge of Facebook and Twitter is enough to brand someone a social media expert. While social media is fairly new, the art of marketing is not.  In order for someone to be successful at social media marketing, he or she needs to have a solid grasp on the other half of the equation – traditional marketing experience – as well as knowledge and experience in social media that expands beyond Facebook and Twitter.

To keep your skills finely tuned, consider attending marketing conferences or taking outside marketing courses.   Remember, “social media is a collaborative marketing and communications function,” so a strong background in both marketing and social media are required for someone to be branded a social media expert.

5. Time investment

Social media doesn’t sleep.  So just because the office closes shop at 5PM sharp, that doesn’t mean your job ends the second the door closes behind you. In fact, 23% of Facebook users log on to their accounts five or more times every single day throughout all hours of the day, so you have to be ready to respond to comments (good or bad), tweets, or messages as they come.

This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your personal life but it does require you to stay connected and in the loop afterhours.  Develop relationships and “deliver true engagement and interactions to [your] target audience” on behalf of your company.  Luckily for social media marketers today, smart phones and tablets allow us to stay connected to our social networks wherever we go.  We are no longer required to be tied down to our desktop to interact with our audience.

Keep these five factors in mind when talking to or interviewing people who claim they are social media experts.  Or even when working toward becoming a social media expert yourself.  All social media experts should be well rounded in these areas with the expertise and experience to validate it.

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