Home Blog Uncategorized Top skills of the 2022 social media professional–as told by the people doing the actual work

Top skills of the 2022 social media professional–as told by the people doing the actual work


You may have seen this graphic last week–it was making the rounds on social media (even I shared it).

It’s from LinkedIn, which aggregated data to share with us the “top skills” of today’s social media manager. However, the list seems flawed on many levels.

First how can “social media” AND “social media marketing” be skills? Super confused right off the bat. Similarly, “Instagram” and “Facebook” are not social media skills. Those are tools we use to do the social media and social media marketing you listed at the top!

Let’s just say it–this list is garbage. It’s not only not accurate, it’s just plain weird (and, most likely, it’s merely based on search terms).

However, I LOVE the concept they’re driving at here. How much social media jobs have changed in just 6-7 years and how the skills have changed as a result.

I wrote a post back in 2016 about the 10 skills the PR pro of the future will need to have. It really could have been titled “social media pro” because many of the skills overlap. Among them: ability to manage social media ad campaigns, video AND audio production skills and ability to manage virtual teams (man, I was almost clairvoyant on that one!).

Many of those skills DO apply today. Yes, social media pros do need to understand how to manage social ad campaigns. They do need video and audio production skills. And, they do need to have the ability to manage social content systems.

I definitely have more thoughts on the skills the social media pro of 2022 should have. But I thought what would be more interesting–and helpful–is to get that information from the people who are most important in this equation: the social media professionals themselves.

So, I asked five social media professionals right here in Minneapolis what they think the top 5 skills social media pros need in 2022–here’s what they had to say:

Giuliana Clanin, associate director-social media, Life Time

* Creativity – the ability to think outside the box and quickly for those time sensitive opportunities.

* Patience – Especially within organic social, I think it’s incredibly important to be patient and not reactive. If something doesn’t work right away, it’s important to give it time vs jump ship completely to try something new. It takes time to build a brand, a voice, etc.

* Communication Skills – Social touches to many teams these days (PR, Creative, etc), it’s important to be able to communicate and work as a team even with those not on your team. Cross channel collaborations are where organic social wins, working in silos – not so much. Proactive communication is just as important as recap communication as well.

* Attention to detail – Trolls are out and will pick apart anything they can. It’s important to think through every detail of a post, from who it might offend down to the grammar and spelling.

* Education for leadership – I’m not sure what word to use for this one exactly (maybe this falls into communication skills), but I think one of the most important skills right now is the ability to educate leadership on social media. I consider this a skill because many executives don’t have the time or the desire to sit and be “taught”. So the ability to help leaders see the power and importance of strategy in social and how there’s a different strategy when you’re talking brand strategy to influencer strategy to TM ambassador strategy and how all of that is different from personal social use.

Vishakha Mathur, associate director-social media, Merck

Here are top 5 “skills” that I believe are most valuable for social media managers:
* Advertising. Many companies have focus on paid social, and general understanding of setting up ads or interpreting data will be helpful.
* Analytics. Telling leaders a story of how social contributes to overarching goals – I had to do this to ask for budget for social campaigns.
* Canva/design. Helps with quick turn request like putting company logo on visuals.
* Social Listening. This may not be a typical “social media manager” skill, but the idea of keeping a pulse on industry trends, finding proactive opportunities and identifying threats is important. The fake Eli Lilly Twitter fiasco is a good example.
* Copywriting. Back to the basics, but as channel owners, we know the verbiage that aligns with our audience the best.

Alyssa Meyers, social media manager, Ecolab

* The ability to find a compelling story. While traditional marketing efforts might incorporate social media into their campaign to drive leads or conversions, effective social media content builds a relationship with the audience. You can do this by connecting with your audience through the use of a compelling, empathetic, humorous or information storytelling that allows people to bond with your brand.

* Strong copywriting skills. Let’s face: People are pretty critical of brands on social media – especially in 2022. Some love to find errors and mistakes in social media copy and call them out to discredit a brand. Strong copywriting helps avoid this, so it’s: “Let’s eat, grandma!” instead of “Let’s eat grandma.”

* Use data to hypothesize. Storytelling is the underlining theme for social media pros. If you can use social media metrics, including post metrics or listening data, to understand the story behind why your audience reacted to your content they way that they did, you can give the people what they want. More dog videos, please!

* Networking skills. Social is well… social. While our nerd side thrives in data analyzation, the key to being a social media pro is learning from others – because you can’t possibly keep up with the ever-changing platform trends yourself. Twitter is changing on an hourly basis. You need other experts in your corner.

* Thick skin. Raise your hand if you’ve been a victim of a PR social media disaster, trolls, social post misspellings or all of the above? To be a social pro, you can’t take negative sentiment personally. It helps when the trolls don’t know your real name 😉.

Hanna Johnson, associate manager-content & channels, General Mills

* Writing. The #1 skill that I think should ALWAYS be on this list.

* Analytics. Not just compiling data but being able to analyze the data to help inform future content creation.

* Community management. Building connections and putting the social in social media.

* Strategic thinking. From building paid campaigns to providing counsel to executives, an effective social presence requires strategic thought.

* Agility. Change is constant in social media. Social pros need to be able to pivot quickly and respond to external events.

If I had room for a couple more, I’d add:

* Photography + video production. Even basic knowledge/skill here can go a long way

* Content curation. Super helpful skill for social teams who are spread thin (who isn’t these days??)

Alex Haider, social media specialist, Second Harvest Heartland

* Writing. Social media managers will need to be able to write on the fly with accuracy and the ability to distill down complex ideas. This includes spelling, grammar, and punctuation in line with social media trends (AKA your article about the loss of grammar). Social media managers need to know the difference between there, they’re and their because it won’t always be caught in a spell check even though Grammarly is awesome.

* Organization and Prioritization. All social media managers are pulled in many directions. Being able to either create or follow a system for content is one main part of the job.

* Creative Eye/Design/Photography/Video. Social media managers need to have at least one or more of these creative skills. If a social media manager can edit images on the fly or design a quick graphic, you become more of an asset to the team. I use Canva, Adobe products, take images and videos all the time. No matter how many resources you have at your disposal all social media managers need to know what looks good and what will be engaging for their audience.

* Analytical mind and basic knowledge of digital marketing landscape. Data and Analytics are a huge part of the job because all social media managers need to know what is engaging for their audience, what gets action completion, and eventually a conversion. This is the science side of social media. Social media managers need to know what important organizational goals are and how you are contributing to them. Most likely your goals will be tied to website goals, so you better know a decent amount about websites.

* Social skills. The ability to relate to people both online and in person is not a skill everyone has. The ability for any social media manager to read between the lines and respond accordingly is an art especially in high-stress situations.

Also, most social media content comes from some sort of human interaction. Get comfortable talking to people in real life too. Social media managers tend to get to know organizations quickly. This relates to your post about social media mangers becoming the next batch of CMOs – we know how to find answers and make decisions quickly and successfully.



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