When people ask me what I do and I tell them I handle social communications/media for an organization the looks and responses are often pretty funny. The next questions and responses usually are along the lines of ‘what do you actually do?’ or ‘you’ve got to have the easiest job in the world.’. It’s not “easy” but I agree it is so much fun that it often doesn’t seem like work. At the same time there is a lot of thought and planning that goes into those company and organizations pages and online social stuff that most never see.
I’ve said many times before, it’s not just a computer thing. Effective social uses are a lot about the right people executing things and often times they are not your “web people” or just someone who “knows computers”. In fact, most don’t know the intricacies of building websites and whatnot. They may have a basic knowlege and no more. And that’s ok because there are other very important skills that are needed and one can partner with the web people for design elements. These are also skills that, in my opinion, will be the basics for those wanting to get into the field later on as a full-time profession.
- Web Analytics – Data sets can be varied from platform to platform (i.e. Google Analytics versus Facebook Insights), but the important thing is knowing how to look at, interpret, and use the data effectively. Statistics put together “tell a story”, and it is key to be able to find that “story” and make appropriate decisions.
- Customer-focused – A “customer” is anyone you serve and provide a significant reason for you to be doing what you are doing. Our parishioners are “customers” in a lot of ways. People in other departments that rely on work from your department are “customers” too. Executing online social initiatives should always be with the “customer” (and future customer) in mind. There is this tendency to simply want to use social to attract. The problem is that when you just attract without providing real benefit to the masses that show up things will fall flat. In fact, service-focused environments inherently attract. Social allows us to better serve others by keeping them informed and providing another effective way to communicate with them. It’s important to know how to do that effectively and craft strategies with the customer in mind. So when that person mentions your organization with a question on Twitter or sends a message through Facebook, it’s as equally important as the phone call.
- Writing skills – Write, write, write, and then write more. Write of often as possible. I’m a firm believer that writing and reading are the two best activities for one’s mind and soul. When done often, they “expand” the mind and increase creativity and knowledge. Likewise, as one improves in their writing skills they become better communicators. Blogging is a perfect exercise for this because you not only are writing, others are giving you feedback with their comments or reactions with shares.
- Basic Photo/Image/Video Editing - Somewhere along the line you will need to create your own graphics without waiting on someone else. You might want to create short video to relay a message. Having a basic understanding how to work with these items is important. For Images and photos I recommend learning the basics of Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. Both are powerful and widely used. Photoshop Elements is a “watered down” version of Photoshop that is pretty powerful itself and a fraction of the cost. Knowing how to navigate and the understand the basics of working with graphics and images through this platform will make things easy to go form one platform to another. For video, iMovie or Adobe Premiere or Premiere Elements are great platforms. In addition, it can be a huge benefit to knowing how to take decent photos and video. But don’t be fooled, photography and videography are NOT the same. Photography is challenging for anyone who has tried capturing those great pictures. Videography is equally as challenging because you are adding in the sound element and bringing motion and sound together for a good presentation.
- Basic web design – Having a basic working knowledge of how websites work and some HTML code will go a long way even on the social platforms. Likewise, you will find yourself working with others and need to be able to communicate effectively with them to get the best end-result you want. Again, using a blogging platform such as WordPress will give you hands-on access to many of these basic elements.
There are other skills too, but these are the basics I find most useful. The great thing is that good social networking relies on the media. Media is varied from text, to photos, to images, to video, etc. And you will get exposure to all of it. The technicals of how to work with the various media and get it to show up on the web appropriately and effectively is just a part of the overall function of what online social is. Knowing how to identify, understand, adapt, and communicate with your audience is key and are skill sets in of themselves outside of the technicals of computers and the web.
What skills do you think are important?