Social Media Skills Are Really Social

business-social-handshake-shutterstockSocial media as a practice is nearly a decade old. But for many of us, this job skill is a fairly new requirement.

So how do you learn more about social media for your current or future job? Where do you go to learn more? What do you need to know?

It’s challenging. Most experts have gained social media skills on the job. So if you’re lucky enough to land a job that requires social media understanding, that’s great. If not, then you remain at a distinct disadvantage.

The journey to social media literacy is not obtained through personal use. Although daily interactions with major platforms help us understand basic functionality, these social habits do not teach us business fundamentals.

Personal use has created an abundant overconfidence in the workplace. We assume we know more than we do because we are active users ourselves. However, posting details of our daily social events does not teach us how to implement an API call or create compelling content.

There are fundamental literacy areas that are good to develop to remain competitive in today’s job market. But, how do we get started with understanding the basic skills and knowledge required for social media?

Are the true skills of social media much more than the obvious competencies? Whether you’re starting from square one or have dabbled in social on the job, below are a few tips for becoming more savvy.

1. Seek Mentorship, Be Super Social

Experts are often very generous. Seek out and socialize with a mentor to help guide your social media literacy goals and skills. Ask what they believe are the most important skills to develop, and work on them daily.

Mentors can be found on the job or through your network; or, use social media directly to identify leaders in the field. Contact an expert who is active in social media strategy and ask for guidance.

2. Practice Empathy, Identify With Others

Most experts would agree that empathy is one of the most important 21st century skills to develop. It is an under-realized business virtue.

Successful social media requires that we understand social behaviors and consumer needs, and that we use this understanding to identify with others. Empathy leads us to a greater understanding of human behavior, which is the very crux of social media intelligence. The practice leads us down the path of greater human cooperation and understanding.

3. Study Patterns, Analyze Social Interactions

Pattern recognition allows us to see beyond the “likes” to an aggregate of social media interactions. The ability to recognize patterns is needed for many things — from math to music.

For social media, pattern recognition is key to developing strategies to communicate and socialize with others on major platforms. For example, what is a common language pattern of social media interactions focused on family travel experiences? Although content development is critical, understanding patterns of human platform interaction is essential.

4. Be Curious, Ask Good Questions

Active learning requires that we ask more questions, more often. If you want to learn about the practice of social media, then socialize your questions among colleagues.

Curiosity about a topic encourages learning spontaneity that is often absent in formal education. When we are forced to think about the questions, we are well on our way to developing our own interpretation. The right questions are equally as important as the answers.

Social media is moving so quickly that most of us realize that it’s challenging (if not impossible) to be an expert. A commitment to a deeper understanding of platforms and behaviors are evergreen skills; they will be important far beyond the next popular social media platform.

If you want to develop social media literacy, know the basics, but look beyond the obvious. Connect with those who know the most, understand cultural differences and embrace pattern recognition as critical business skills of the 21st century.

 (Stock image via Used under license.)

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Social Media Marketing | Social Media Marketing Column


About The Author: is founder and managing partner of smith & beta, a talent development and digital education company that curates custom learning programs for brands and agencies.

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  • Sufi Ayan

    digital marketing is very important for any business to gain competitive advantage, as you mentioned that empathy is the important skill to learn i totally agree with you because its actually a way to maintain a good relationship and understanding their needs and finally educating them through appropriate content.
    as you mentioned that experts are very generous, so show some generosity and guide me a little bit if you are convenient ! regards

  • Justin Belmont

    Thanks for this great article, Allison! We at loved the distinction you made between being a social media user and being social media literate. It’s true that knowing the basics is important, but understanding the business value and having the ability to recognize patterns are extremely valuable skills to have.


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