12 Must-Have Social Media Skills for Every Digital Marketer

Every digital marketer knows how to post a Facebook update, filter an Instagram photo, and tweet an image.

Most digital marketers know how to use a platform’s analytics to gauge the success of their content. These things are, after all, the basics of digital marketing.

But there are certain important skills that the very best digital marketers have. These pros understand that social media marketing depends on a tenuous balance between art and science.

They understand the intricacies of each channel, and how to tailor a post for optimal success on Twitter versus Snapchat.

They know that on every platform, there are powerful tools, functionalities, and strategies that most social media users never bother to use or even learn about.

How can you become part of this exclusive club of social media ninjas? All you have to do is devote some time to honing these 12 must-have social media skills, and you’ll be well on your way.

Community engagement

Social media, at its core, is about making connections with followers and building a community. For a brand, that means a few different things.

The first step is to post and share content that your followers find valuable. That could be a video showcasing your latest product, or an article from a leading publication like The Atlantic or Forbes that your followers will find relevant.

When followers comment or share your content, acknowledge them personally. If followers ask questions, offer criticism, or make a complaint, reply to them as quickly and honestly as possible. This is the age of transparency: people will appreciate a sincere apology much more than a perfectly worded statement that was obviously crafted by the marketing department.


If you’ve read pretty much anything about digital marketing over the past year, you know that video is the way the world is going. Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram Video – video and live streaming services are getting more and more users every day.

What’s more, as video becomes ever more mainstream, your customers are beginning to expect you to be creating video content, even if you’ve never done it before.

Customers are beginning to expect you to be creating video content, even if you’ve never done it before. #videomarketing Click To Tweet

So while you certainly don’t have to be Martin Scorsese behind a video camera, you should know some basic videography skills so that you can turn out decent, professional-looking videos.

The great news is that you can create excellent, basic videos on a smartphone these days with just a few inexpensive pieces of equipment. If you’ve never made a video before, read this post on how to choose the best platform to use.

An added bonus? Just think how valuable these video skills will make you to your employer.

The drive to sniff out hidden or “secret” features on social media platforms

It’s one thing to know how to build a great Twitter list. It’s another to know how to pin an emoji to an object in Snapchat, or how to change your Instagram settings so you have to approve posts you’re tagged in.

Maybe you know how to do all three of these things, in which case you’re definitely on your way to social media ninja-hood. But the point is that there are tons of hidden features on every social media platform that can take your posting game to a whole different level.

If you want to be a true social media ninja, you’ve got to devote time to learning social media hacks and lesser-known features. To do this, all you need is some time to tool around on a social media platform, and a few quick Google searches

These features can help you make your profile a lot more valuable and relevant to your followers. Most importantly for brands, using these features can also make your profile stand out from the millions of others on every platform.

If you want to be a true social media ninja, you’ve got to devote time to learning social media hacks and lesser-known features. Click To Tweet

The know-how to automate and schedule posts for maximum success.

No one, not even the most devoted digital marketer, is on all the time, nor should they be. So how do they manage to post 15 different posts on 5 social networks day in and day out?

The answer: Automation. There are a number of effective tools available that allow you to schedule and automate the posts you send across all your social media platforms. Hootsuite and Buffer are just a couple of them. With the number of platforms out there and the need for increased engagement on all of them, these tools are pretty much a necessity for any serious digital marketer.

Content curation

Content strategy isn’t just about creating valuable content for your audience. It’s also about curating valuable content – choosing the best pieces of content from around the web to share with your followers.

For example, here’s something from our own Facebook page. We shared this great post from Mashable about the new Snapchat group feature because it’s something our followers would find useful:

snapchat groups post

via Facebook.com/marketingzengroup

To read about balancing your creation and curation strategies, read our post “The Ultimate Content Marketing Battle: Creation vs. Curation.”

Advertising know-how

Maybe your content is already getting shared like crazy, driving traffic to your site and boosting your conversion rate. That’s awesome, and it may even make you don’t need to pay for advertising.

But unless you’re an incredibly rare exception, you really should be investing in paid online advertising. That’s because even if you’re already getting a good amount of traffic from your content and social media marketing, advertising – things like promoted pins on Pinterest, paid posts on Facebook, Google AdWords, etc. – can have a huge impact on your reach.

The great thing about social media advertising is that it’s relatively inexpensive, and you can target your ads so accurately that you’re a lot less likely to waste money on ads that don’t work. You just need to look closely at each of your social networks to decide which to advertise on, and how to target your ads appropriately.


According to a Buzzstream and Fractl study on why users unfollow brands on social media, 21 percent said that they’d unfollowed brands because they posted repetitive or boring content.

So even if those product photos you post every day are incredibly cool, you’ve got to vary your content if you want to earn new followers and keep the ones you have. Try things like giveaways, surveys, short videos, or the stories behind your products or services for a start.

Strong writing skills

Like it or not, if you want to be a truly great digital marketer, you’ve got to know how to write. That doesn’t mean you have to spend hours crafting the perfect 140-character sentence for your next tweet, but you should be pretty good at expressing yourself through the written – or typed – word.

This will come in extra handy when you’re working on your brand’s blog because it’s here that your writing skills really matter.

Now that the ideal blog post length (ideal for SEO, that is) has grown to 1,500 words, typos, grammar mistakes, and poor sentence structure just won’t cut it.

You’ve also got to know how to structure your writing for the web, which is a bit different from print. Short sentences and paragraphs, bullet points and subheadings, and generally writing “skimmable” content are all important components of it.


Analytics are the bread-and-butter of social media marketing. In today’s business environment, you’ve got to be able to justify the time and money you spend on social media efforts, which means knowing who’s clicking on what, when they’re visiting your site, and whether they’re converting.

Despite the importance of analytics, lots of companies still don’t totally appreciate how vital it is to understand them.

And it’s not just Google Analytics anymore – additional analytics tools on social media networks, like Facebook Insights and Pinterest Analytics, as well as paid tools like Hootsuite Analytics and Brand24, allow you to dig deeper and learn more about how specific posts are doing on specific networks.

Customer service

Social media has become a major avenue for customers to vent their dissatisfaction, make complaints, and generally get their problems with a product or service solved.

That means that you’ve got to know how to provide excellent customer service – even if you’ve never been part of a customer service team before. This involves acknowledging a customer’s issues quickly and empathetically, offering a resolution, and doing it all without angering the customer any further.

Of course, customers will also offer positive comments on social media, and these need to be acknowledged quickly and sincerely, too.

Editorial skills

As a digital marketer, you have to cultivate an editorial eye – in other words, you have to be able to see how all of your posts and content fit together to create a larger picture of your brand.

You also have to be able to edit the posts you or others who post for your brand create so that they reflect your brand voice. There’s a certain nuance to this, so it’s something you’ll have to practice.

Editorial skills also include more basic things like copyediting and proofreading – you don’t want to share a blog post or tweet that’s full of typos.


Like analytics, SEO is one of the more technical skills that digital marketers need to develop. SEO, or search engine optimization, is the art of making your content appear higher on search engine results pages.

This involves using strategic keywords, generating high-quality backlinks, and creating shareable content, in addition to other tactics.

It’s an absolute must for any digital marketer these days, especially since Google’s algorithm keeps changing to more accurately tell how reputable a site is.

Digital marketers need a whole lot of different skills if they’re going to optimize their social media skills. For more on becoming an ace social media marketer, watch this episode of shAMA: How to Amplify Your Social Media Results.



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