Thursday, July 26, 2012

What skills are required to support Social Media?

Social media is proving to be a challenging area for many small businesses.  Sooner or later your business will be drawn into the craze.  In the early 2000's, there was an obsession and urgency with building websites. During that era most companies sought out a local website design service or contracted with a freelance resource. Many times the only available resource was a computer savvy college student supplementing his or her income part-time.  At the time, there was a fair amount of technical skill required in creating and maintaining a professional website. Furthermore, the skills required were in high demand and hard to find.

Once a website went live, little if any changes were made over relatively long periods of time. This was mostly due to time, cost, and complexity. The website turned out to be a fairly static face to the world with E-Mail being the predominate method of contact. In actuality, many websites with their technical constraints served as little more than an online brochure.

Today, with social media it's all about having a firm focus on interactive communications.  Content and commentary happen at the speed of "now" with comparatively little effort. Implementing a social presence requires little technical skill and can be completed in minutes. These advantages are the main reason thousands of users sign up every day. Nowadays, the focus is on content and information as opposed to the underlying technology.

So just what skills are required to support Social Media marketing?

A familiarity with Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn is essential. All three have excellent tutorials aimed at the non-technical user.  Once you make the commitment, your user skills will grow with practice.
Another obvious required skill is a comprehensive knowledge of your business and products and how they serve the needs of your customers. You'll need to be able to explain your services in plain easily understood language.  In reality, this is nothing new but now it's going to happen faster and to a much broader audience. Most importantly, your audience can talk back so you'll need to develop tactical skills to deal with issues.

In summary, when it comes to social media technical skills have given way to communication skills. The single most important skill required on the Social Media managers job description is; excellent communication skills.

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