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October 8, 2014 / achanguris

Skill-Building for a Career in Social Media

Last month I had the opportunity to join Carrie Kerpen for her All the Social Ladies podcast and discuss my somewhat unconventional career path. I’m sure it’s not a unique path, but — at least for the time being — there isn’t a truly traditional way to establish a social media career. I fully expect to see a convention develop, and soon, but for now variety is the spice of life for social media professionals.

Listen to the podcast by clicking on my face!

Listen to the podcast by clicking on my face!

During the podcast, Carrie and I talked about the skills professionals need to find success in social media. We got through most of my list:

  1. Writing – If you’re planning to pay the bills with a career in social media, you’re going to need a firm grasp of grammar, spelling and punctuation. Social media moves fast; you’ll need to be able to write — and write well — quickly to keep up.
  2. Be a Storyteller – The fundamentals of writing are a start, but you’ll need more than the ability to string together a cohesive sentence. You’ll need to be able to tell compelling stories, and often with tight restrictions on your character count.
  3. Personality – The best social media accounts allow a writer’s personality to shine through and connect. Yes, even if it’s a business account. The more human and relatable you can be, the more successful you’ll be in the all-important engagement metrics.
  4. Speed – You won’t need to be cool under pressure 100% of the time (thank goodness for that), but you must be able to push through whatever emotional response you may have to craft an appropriate response — fast. You can say a lot of things out loud you’d never type and send, but never let venting keep you from a timely (and helpful) reply.

    But I didn’t get to mention one last group of skills during the podcast:

  5. Multimedia Skills – The written word is essential in social media, but we live in a visual world. Photography, videography (and the ability to edit both formats), graphic design and at least an appreciation of typography are skills that can set you apart from other job applicants at any point along your career path. They’re also virtually guaranteed to come in handy when there’s a last-minute photo opportunity or you need a simple infographic on the double. You don’t have to have all the skills of a professional photographer, videographer, or graphic designer; the ability and willingness to step up in a pinch will make you an invaluable asset.

You can probably see how my background in journalism helps me in my social media career. For most of my TV news career I shot, wrote and edited all of my own stories — and all on daily deadlines. I’ve been a one-woman content factory for more than a dozen years now, I’ve simply adjusted to new formats and platforms where that content lives.

What did I miss? Professionals, what skills have helped you establish or further your social media careers? Students (of any age), what skills do you see as the most important for the social media professionals of today and tomorrow?

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