There is no single quality to look for when searching for the ideal social media strategist. Social media strategy doesn’t mean just posting fun pictures and trolling for trends all day. A social media strategist must be able to work in many different disciplines and across each social channel.
From day to day, they could wear the hat of a photographer, editor, copywriter, planner, customer support and even social media analyst. The big question becomes how can one person do all that? Below are some of the qualities that make a social media strategist effective:
The need to work in a variety of mediums brings us to the first, and likely most important quality for a social media strategist to have—multi-skills. Social media is intrinsically multidisciplinary as it is comprised of multiple networks, and no two function exactly the same.
The mark of a well-rounded social media strategist is the ability to clearly identify various workflows, plans and rules as they apply to their respective networks. While some strategists often have a favorite network, top social media strategists can handle all pillars of a social strategy for any platform.
Another way to look at the multidisciplinary quality of a social media strategist, is they must be proficient in every aspect of social, including:
- Proactive and reactive engagement
- Proactive and reactive publishing
- Social media analytics
How does a social media strategist handle all these disciplines? Multitasking is their friend. It behooves a social media strategist to seek out ways to make multitasking easier and more effective.
It is in their best interest to streamline their processes so they can work smarter, rather than grind their gears all day inundated with tasks. This means not only do social media strategists switch from task to task by the minute, but they should be deeply familiar with the tools that allow them to do so.
A social media strategist’s toolkit could include a range of productivity apps, a social media management tool like Sprout and they might even need familiarity with content management systems.
2. Audience Focused Vision
Having a long-term vision for a social customer care strategy is an integral part of being a social media strategist. Not only does a strategist have to listen and understand the concerns, demands and even praise of current customers, but they also have to be proactive about what future customers might say.
In addition, they should set forth guidelines for their social customer care strategy and make sure it’s being implemented.
Tagging messages for sentiment is one of the easiest ways to track customer feedback.
Monitoring response time is another way to measure the effectiveness of your customer service on social.
A good social media strategist will take these social media analytics and find ways to improve them for the future.
Social media strategists are also a front line for customer support, so it’s integral that they put the customer first. According to research from J.D. Power and Associates, 67% of consumers have used a company’s social media site for servicing.
Social media strategists should have a genuine desire for their company to succeed beyond increasing market share and revenue. They need to make a positive impact in the hearts, minds and eyes of their direct supporters and community. For instance, Jimmy John’s is well known for providing excellent customer service and have built a stellar reputation as a result.
— Alicia Thomas (@aliciarenee_21) September 13, 2016
Their passion to help should be reflected in their behavior. For example, if a social media strategist promises to pass feedback along, they should follow through and report back to the customer about any improvements/changes.
A desire to help is an intangible quality that is hard to teach, but possessed by some of the most successful social media strategists out there.
3. Strong Communication Skills
A social media strategist has to be able to drop what they’re doing at a moment’s notice and hop on a trending topic or a disgruntled customer service complaint. In those unexpected windows of time, they must effectively communicate to higher-ups why they are shifting their focus.
In addition, a social media strategist has to communicate plans regarding their content distribution plan, and how that will affect other departments within their organization. An ideal strategist has the skills to communicate how these plans will push the overall business goals forward.
A Social media strategist needs to be able to extend their communication skills outside of the organization as well:
- Coordinate campaigns with co-marketing partners
- Express gratitude to advocates
- Connect with influencers through social media outreach
Another reason to keep those communication skills strong is to develop internal education and training. One way to do this is through an employee advocacy platform where the strategist can curate content intended for company wide social sharing.
While the social media team might lead the charge for your company’s social media marketing efforts, they can also work to get people from other departments involved as well.
Not only does a social media strategist have to exercise the left side of their brain by being strategic and analytical, but they also have to use the right side of their brain by being artistic and creative.
This position looks at a strategy through multiple lenses. Not only are they mindful of specific network rules, distribution guidelines, media types and posting conventions, but also they consider the impact of the actual content. You could have a well-planned distribution strategy, but if your content does not resonate with your audience, it won’t make a difference.
— Nicola Elam (@NicolaElam) September 14, 2016
Curating quality content, campaigns and providing value to your community can require a lot of creative thought. This is especially true when it comes to the saturated social media space. These days it’s about what sets your content apart and pulls eyes off the page. A social media strategist has to conceptualize, categorize, visualize, edit and execute every piece of content that goes out.
A creative eye also comes in handy when drafting the aesthetic of social posts. Every detail is important:
- Should there be an image involved?
- Do you need to include a link?
- How will the meta-data appear?
- How will the copy line up?
Creative license also comes into play when considering things like video length, call-to-action screens and even the tone of the message. Is it exciting? Does the message seem fun? Does it make someone want to take action?
5. Be Daring
Social Media Strategists should never fear failure. Due to the ever changing landscape of social media marketing, one of the best attributes people in this position can have is the willingness to try and test anything. In fact, testing should be one of their hobbies.
There are so many variables in social media you shouldn’t be afraid of changing formats, media types, content style or tone. The curiosity to test new platforms and tactics and see how they affect the bottom line should be ever-present. For instance, our community outreach manager Sarah Nagel wasn’t afraid to give Blab a try with our Sprout All Stars.
You never know when you will strike gold, and a good social media strategist will be ready to pivot their process based on what they learn at any moment.
Social Media never sleeps. Your strategy needs to be just as proactive as it is reactive. A good social media specialist will always be seeking new campaign ideas, engaging new prospects and practicing social listening to spot mentions of their brand or relevant conversations.
— Paper Mate (@PaperMate) September 19, 2016
If a social media strategist is on their listening game, they will be able to seize ample opportunities for outreach. After all, being proactive isn’t just related to your specific social media strategy. Being proactive in terms of monitoring trends and competitors can have its advantages as well.
Anticipating the opportunity for social moments is key, and people in this position couldn’t do that if they weren’t looking to the future.
7. Tech Savvy
Being experienced with various social networks is an obvious plus for a social media strategist, but there is some technical aptitude that goes along with that.
A good social media strategist is comfortable with all the technicalities of social sites, third party platforms and all social tech in between. From HTML to Boolean search operators, there is a definite need for tech knowledge.
Being familiar with the technical aspects of social media marketing gives strategists a better understanding of the work it takes to produce and distribute content. Over time, that can eventually lead to more tangible benefits such as quicker response time or better user experience.
Strategists should communicate a plan of action and report key performance indicators to the people that truly care about a business’s bottom line. This position is often tasked with updating their leadership team with progress numbers, anecdotal wins, visual data and ROI reports.
One of the greatest things a strategist can do when starting out at a company is to find someone who tracks those bottom line metrics for the company and see how they do it. With that information, they can map their strategic efforts to specific metrics and start attributing some of the successes to the social strategy.
In addition to communicating across their teams, social media strategists also have to be able to communicate up to executives. In order to get “buy-in” and participation, strategists need to demonstrate their goals, strategy and results of any social initiative to specific department heads.
That means being comfortable using social media analytics tools. Analyzing reports and explaining data to management and executives is crucial. Sprout’s analytics make it easy for strategists to generate reports that are simple to present to higher-ups and non-marketers.
Strategists have the ability to relay not only the big, but also the small moments of success that come along to reinforce a company’s faith in its process. These wins can be visualized through screenshots of incoming praise or small statistical anecdotes that show growth.
You can’t have a strategy without being organized. Similarly, you can’t manage a social media strategy without managing your time wisely. As a result, a social media strategist should have a high level of organizational skills.
Not only do they have to conceptualize campaigns and distribution rhythms, but they also should lead and execute these formalized plans from start to finish. One campaign could require a whole host of tasks. Gathering media, writing copy, setting dates, formatting and scheduling all have to be planned and executed perfectly.
One outlying variable or blunder can throw off an entire campaign. To do this at scale, a good strategist will implement tools, policies and processes for their social presence so that at any time another member could pick up where the other left off.
Using a social media calendar is one of the best ways to keep content organized and plan ahead.
The strategist part of the title never goes away. Not only does strategy encompass a plan of action, but also the links in between actionable items, including:
- The communication
- The follow through
- The analysis
Strategy can pivot at any point and you may be asked to post something at a moment’s notice. New trends emerge in social media all the time, which is another reason a flexible strategist is integral to staying relevant. An agile social media strategist that can pivot based on feedback or trends is one you can trust to really see a strategy through full circle.
Patience and flexibility are especially important when dealing with customers and trying to help them with their issues. Although it’s not always easy to understand a problem in 140 characters, patience and flexibility allow a strategist to thoroughly take on customer service complaints.
— MintCares (@MintCares) September 10, 2016
On the flip side, when a community member is readily offering praise, agility also comes into play. If a social media strategist is agile, they will adapt to the message and treat it with care. Rather than sending a canned “Thank You” response, a genuinely caring strategist will look through conversation history and go the extra mile to make a personal connection whilst showing gratitude.
@Babygurlie73 Love this tweet, and thrilled to hear you're such a fan!
— Halo Top (@HaloTopCreamery) September 2, 2016
At the end of the day, there is no one size fits all social media strategist. While some traits may be stronger than others, the most important attribute is passion.
In the end, if someone has passion for the product, subject or community they are championing, it shows. And when a social media strategist truly believes in what they are sharing, then their content strategy becomes genuine messaging and moves far past promotion.
What’s on your list of qualities you look for in a good social media strategist? Leave a comment and let us know!
Rachael Samuels: Rachael is the Social Media Specialist at Sprout Social and was a mega Sprout fan and user prior to joining the team. She helps to strategize and maintain our own social presence, and is the social media voice for Bambu By Sprout Social. Outside of work, this Californian enjoys exploring her new home of Chicago!