6 Underappreciated Skills for Social Media Professionals

Show a little more appreciation to your friendly neighborhood social media professional– these guys are workhorses, able to do so much in so little time.  Contrary to what a lot of people might think, a social media professional has a whole bunch of skills they use every day.  Evan LePage of HootSuite tells us more.

“No, dad, social media professionals don’t play on Facebook all day.”

How many social media professionals have encountered someone who downplayed their job as simple—lots of time spent surfing the web or chatting with friends. This misconception is rampant, despite widespread knowledge of social media’s importance to business.

Being a social media professional means wearing a lot of hats, from writer to analyst. While people outside the industry might not see it, people in social media need to have a wide array of skills to succeed—far more than your casual social media user.

Whether you’re just entering the field or have an established career in social media, here are six skills to practice that will make you more effective at your job.


Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is an essential skill for many web professionals. Bloggers, web developers, copywriters, and even designers need to take into account how their work will rank in search.

SEO is actually a very under-recognized part of social media success. The two fields are related in several ways. First, Google uses Twitter to discover new content. Google gathers pages during its crawl process and then creates an index, so we know where to find things when we’re searching for it. This process can take some time however, and Twitter has the potential to speed up that process. Content that has generated a lot of traction on Twitter, from retweets to shares, can cut the time it takes Google to find your content. This is important for SEO because the faster you can get your content indexed, the faster you’ll get rewarded through organic traffic to your site.

You can also boost your rankings with the help of your social media influence. Google will rank your blog posts and website higher if it sees that you are a credible source, and social media influence (relevance, reach, and resonance) is a factor in determining it.

These are just two of many examples of how social media affects SEO, all of which are a great reason for social media professionals to build their SEO skills.


I think people would be surprised at how many social media professionals don’t see their work as writing. The Tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram captions and other short quips that occupy much of their day-to-day are brushed off as part of social media, and something anyone can do. Which is true, in the sense that anyone can be good at these parts of social media… if they work at it.

Most social networks inherently involve writing. Even the most visual networks, like Pinterest, Instagram and Youtube, require you to write titles and captions. Whether you believe it or not, a well-written caption can make a massive difference in the success of your photo. The same can be said of your video title and description. Knowing how to use active verbs, or use language that incites an emotional reaction, can really affect the shareability of content.

Basic training in writing can also open up other doors for social media professionals. As networks like LinkedIn put a new focus on publishing, and as new social network and blog hybrids like Medium continue to gain steam, having a good writing base can greatly extend your online reach. Honing your writing abilities also give you an advantage when it comes to content sharing. When your business is having a regular day, and no new content is scheduled that you can promote on social networks, being able to write your own blog post, skillfully and quickly, is an immense asset.

Analytics and revenue tracking

Analytics are a big part of social media management. Every social media professional should know how to track their social media mentions, likes and comments, and the amount of clicks they get on urls they share. But a more advanced form of analytics, tying your social media activities to actual revenue, is becoming increasingly important.

Using a tool like Salesforce, social media professionals can tag all the links they share on Twitter, Facebook or any other social network. These tags act as a starting off point which will later allow you to attribute the leads or revenue gained from anyone who filled out your form, downloaded your app, or bought something from your online store. When you can attribute revenue back to individual social media messages, you gain valuable insight into what content works for sales purposes. You also have data which proves your value to your business or organization.

Learning the ins and out of popular analytics tools like Hootsuite and Salesforce can really make an impact as you start a new social media job or ramp up the tracking at your existing one.


Photos are an essential part of social media. Now, more than ever, people expect social messages to be accompanied by shareable photos or images. Networks like Pinterest and Instagram are built on this premise. For this reason, photography is a very valuable skill for any social media professional.

When speaking of photography, we don’t expect social media professionals to know the ins and outs of shutter speed techniques or timelapse photography. More and more social networks are primarily used from mobile devices anyways, which relieves some of the expectation for professional quality photos. It does not relieve the expectation for quality altogether though, which why having a very basic knowledge of photography and photo composition is valuable. People still want to see photos that are well-lit and beautifully laid out, and that focus on interesting or shareable subject matter.

We all use stock images, but for your regular day-to-day content you should really, really be making an effort to use original images. This is why basic knowledge of photography is such a valuable skill for social media professionals.

In the same vein, being able to edit and improve photos will absolutely help them stand out and be more shareable on social media. Photoshop skills allow you to emphasize the best parts of a photo, add text where appropriate, and make composite images, among other benefits. When you share content to social networks, great visuals help you stand out amongst the flood of information. Photoshop can take even average photos to that next level.

Another significant reason why photoshop skills are valuable is that they allow you to have photos that meet the optimal size of various social networks. Every profile photo and cover photo has an optimal pixel size which will give your image the best resolution, and consequently make it look the best for people visiting your profiles or pages. An appealing cover or profile photo can make a big difference as to whether people follow you or move on, which is why this skill is so important. The same principle applies to images you share, as nobody appreciates (or shares) a pixelated photo in their stream.

Photoshop is an investment, both in its cost and the time it will take you to learn how to use it (there are innumerable tutorials online), but it’s an investment that will pay off very quickly in increased followers and social shares.

Project management

Social media is often looked at as a secondary part of marketing. Many look it as another tool by which to share marketing or sales projects, another channel for promotion and not much else. Any social media professional knows this isn’t the case. Even while social networks serve as promotional tools, they’re also stand-alone entities with their own goals to meet and projects to get them there.

From Instagram campaigns to Facebook advertising, social media projects are getting more and more complex. For the person managing these networks, a certain degree of project management capabilities goes a long way in ensuring the success of these efforts.

Someone needs to oversee all the elements of social media campaigns. These include the visuals or videos, the branding, the language, any paid promotions, the tracking and analytics, and the scheduling, among other tasks. While anyone can run a social media campaign, having the extra project management knowledge can mean the difference between a basic success and an absolute hit.

(Article by Evan LePage, for the HootSuite blog.)

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