The DNA of a Social Media Expert
I recently answered a question on Quora which asked “What needs to be in the DNA of a social media expert”. Although there are lots of questions on the site asking for social media advice, this one struck me as particularly interesting as it suggests that ‘being good’ at social media requires some inherent characteristics – the psychologist in me couldn’t resist thinking about it further. And these are my thoughts…
Before going any further, I should point out that using ‘expert’ and ‘social media’ in the same sentence is dangerous at the best of times… There are so many so-called social media ‘gurus’ out there, and it’s a huge bandwagon for many more to continue jumping on. Nobody has all the answers about how anyone else should use social channels – it’s an organic, two-way learning experience. (And for the record, I’d never pertain to be an expert, just a committed user and advocate.)
From what I can see though, a natural social media user will be the following:
The ability to really listen is a natural characteristic of the social media expert. Listening is just as important as direct engagement, and will teach them a lot about their audience before they even start. I once heard someone say “‘social media’ is a misleading term, as ‘media’ implies broadcast, not two way conversation.” A point around semantics perhaps, but still an interesting point, and one that hopefully makes you question some of the accepted truths around social.
They will understand the various roles of social media in the widespread landscape, and have the ability to recognise where and how it fits best into each scenario. Social media is still too often treated as a stand-alone task, not an important cog in a bigger machine, whether that be internal communications, marketing, product development, audience research, supply chain management – the list goes on, but the social media expert naturally considers them all.
An appreciation of the importance of measurement and analysis will always be a priority for them. A social media expert needs to be able to measure the response to their activity – whether that be engagement, web traffic, etc – then to translate that data into meaningful insights to improve their future use of social media and better understand their audience.
There are no hard and fast rules for successfully using social media. Developing a social profile, then recognition and long-lasting authority, is not a straight road. The social media expert is knowledge-hungry and doesn’t give up after setbacks – they will certainly learn from them though.
A ‘People Person’
The word ‘social’ is there for a reason. Sharing, engaging and adding value will come naturally to the social media expert. They love conversation, meeting like minded people, and exchanging ideas, opinions and knowledge.
Of course there are many external factors that govern whether someone will be successful with social media or not, but perhaps there are some natural characteristics which give certain people a head start.
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